Thursday, June 30, 2011

Taking it From Project Hello to Hello Friends!

Hello!  (Which is how this all started...)

I'm Coco and I am a Wee Dog in the Wee Ones collection created by cmh design and I will be guest blogging tonight.  I was - if not the first Wee One created two years ago - I was one of the first.  Which is why I was elected to play such a major role in our most recent event in Denver, Project Hello.  (Well, that and I'm just so darn cute. And modest.)  

The object of Project Hello is to introduce yourself (the artist/artisan) thru your art. Therefore it was my responsibility to conduct interviews with fellow artists and visitors.  I had a little help translating and interpreting from my peeps at cmh design - Cindi and her wingman, Charlie.

We thought the questions were simple, but we soon learned they required some thought ~ and there were very thoughtful people in attendance last Saturday.  For instance - who knew it was so thought-provoking to decide on a favorite food?  Here are the responses:
  • artichokes (2 people liked these best)
  • avocados (mushy fruit with a big pit making it difficult for a dog to attack)
  • a cheese plate (I have been known to sneak a few off a party table when no one is looking)
  • dark chocolate (a man after my creator's heart for sure)
  • French cheese (from - of course - a delightful artist from France)
  • green chili burritos (someone not on a diet - lucky guy!)
  • ice cream (she's a honey, that one)
  • kale (a super healthy person eating a superfood!)
  • lasagna - (2 people, perhaps Italian...)
  • mac and cheese (oh yeah...)
  • matzo ball soup (when I show you who said this, it will totally make sense)
  • pizza (he could be my best friend)
  • raisin bran (really?)
  • red foods like strawberries and salmon (ok.  and ok.)
  • sushi (2 people who would get along well with the Wee Cats)
  • Tab soda (again. when I show you who said this, it will totally make sense)
  • Thai food (again with the health.  sigh...)
  • wine (now I know this person would be BFF's with my creator.  Unless it was her!) 
Some people had a hard time breaking it down so had to go with categories like:
  • dessert (2 people - and if everyone was honest they all would have said that)
  • sandwiches (as he said, "you can't go wrong with sandwiches.")
  • soup (he needs to meet up with sandwiches for lunch)
We then moved on to "What is your favorite pastime/hobby?"  And not surprisingly there were a lot of creative people!
  • 8 people said "art;" 5 with an emphasis on "drawing" 
  • 3 people are active folks enjoying mountain climbing, baseball and yoga
  • 2 people like to make music and 2 favor reading and 1 enjoys writing poetry
  • Others enjoy hanging out with friends and basically loving life
  • 1 person struggled to put it into words and finally said, "I can't keep it clean."  (we like that person *wink*)
  • 1 person enjoys shopping for jewelry and another said "Keeping track of Joyce."   (again. when I show you who said this, it will totally make sense)
Favorite animals were diverse and interesting!
  • dogs outnumbered cats ~ 6 people like dogs (one narrowed it down to pugs; another down to moi!); and cats got 2 votes.  Go dogs!
  • 2 people favored foxes; 1 coyotes and 1 wolf
From there it was all over the map.  Baby goats; bears; camels (yes camels); chameleons; eagles; elephants; humans (that was different); monkeys; owls; peacocks (yes peacocks.  Again. when I show you who said this, it will totally make sense); tea cup piglets (that was different); whales and one - moi!  (again. when I show you who said this, it will totally make sense)

Favorite colors again showed the creative side of this bunch:
  • 5 people prefer red
  • 4 people like blue
  • 4 people are all about green (including dark olive green)
  • 3 people like various shades of purple (including violet)
  • 2 people each enjoy black, pink (and hot pink) and orange
  • 1 lonely soul likes yellow and 1 is all about "Coco brown"  (Again. when I show you who said this, it will totally make sense)
And by this time you can predict that what these folks do for a living will not surprise you...
  • 4 peeps are graphic designers and 5 are artists
  • 2 are students and 2 are in marketing (including a Marketing Goddess!)
  • We met an accountant; an administrative assistant; a government employee; a designer; an engineer who makes the internet run faster; an English teacher; a fundraiser; a physical therapist; a poet; a video editor; a waiter (hey - he's honest!) and my favorite ~ an abundant liver/lover of life!
The ratio of men to women interviewed were about 2/3 women to 1/3 men.  What can I say?  I like women. :)  So there you have it ~ what I learned about my new friends and had a blast doing. And you may be wondering why those particular questions were asked - we were curious what awesome, creative people think and feel and live.   Each Wee One created carries a story, so some of these answers will help write stories; some will help develop new animals.  You, my friends, are our inspiration!  Thank you for helping us move from "Project Hello" to "Hello, Friend!"  Big hugs and big thank yous to our new friends:

·  Greg and Jane
·  Debbie
·  Renzia
·  Ethan
·  Ursula
·  Todd
·  Rob
·  Towain
·  Andy
·  Simon
·  Mark
·  Meredith
·  Ellen
·  Beth
·  Sam
·  Micaela
·  Vivian
·  Driana
·  Lori
·  Arial
·  Erin
·  Brennan
·  Kat
·  and last, but certainly not least - introducing (below) ~~ Ms. Matzo Ball Soup/Jewelry Shopper/Peacock/Orange Lady (aka Joyce) and Ms. Tab Soda/Joyce Corraler/My #1 Fan  who loves Coco Brown (aka Judy) ~ thanks for the memories, y'all! 

P.S. Apologies if you were interviewed and your name was misspelled or omitted.  I did my best to write clearly; but some of the cursive was illegible so my peeps had a challenge translating from dogspeak to humanspeak. And humongous thanks and appreciation to Sandra + Louise who did such an outstanding job organizing and producing "Project Hello." Kudos, ladies!!   Peace & Love, Coco the Wee Dog

To Be Continued...

Coco the Wee Dog asked me to blog a message for him.

As my guest blogger soon, he is busy compiling his interview responses from Project Hello and he plans to blog all the fabulous details and introduce you to our awesome new friends in a couple of days.  So stay tuned.  Here's a little tease - a couple of the interesting responses he received and he wanted me to share with you:
  • Favorite foods?  For two people it was lasagna (to quote them ~ "Who doesn't love a good lasagna?") - and I don't even think they know The Real Housewives of New Jersey!
  • Favorite animal?  Dogs outnumber cats (but it is close and Coco being a dog, he may be skewing the numbers a bit...) and one person likes camels best.
  • And finally ~ under "What is your favorite pastime?" ~ Coco's favorite response so far is "Abundant Liver of Life!"
Coco is working diligently and promises to post his blog soon (like probably tomorrow!).  Until then ~ enjoy some music by Land Lines.  (Now if only I knew how to insert music... use your imagination. ha!)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

One Word Tees = Awesome!

So here was my dilemma ~ I needed a special tee shirt and I needed it in two days.  Here's the deal:

About six weeks ago I applied to and was accepted into a very cool local event called Project Hello.  It was so named because the concept was to introduce yourself thru your art.  My proposal utilized one of my Wee dogs, Coco.  Coco would interview attendees asking a few important questions (like what is your favorite food - you know, important stuff) and then blog about all his new friends. (That blog post is forthcoming.)

While perusing Etsy one day I came across One Word Tees and noticed one of the shirts said simply "hello."  It hit me immediately - how perfect for Project Hello!  It not only would break the ice for interviews and introductions at the event, but it was unique and fun and most of all ~~ comfortable!  :)  I ordered one immediately and received it in two days.  I was so pleased with the shirt and so happy that I had a unique way to present myself and my Wee Ones at the event.

Late Tuesday afternoon, June 21, I had a thought.  And then I kind of panicked.  You see, my husband, Charlie (although my friend Susan thinks he should go by Mr. Cindi) is not only my biggest cheerleader, but also my wingman.  He jumps right in to support me at events - driving me around, loading the Jeep with tables and screens and bags, helping me set up and tear down.  But most of all - being one of those guys who has never known a stranger - he is my #1 sales rep and PR guy.  He's a good guy.  :)

So my thought late Tuesday afternoon was - oh man... he needs a "hello" shirt, too!  The problem?  I live in Colorado and One Word Tees is based in Delaware.  A quick glance at a map of the US and one realizes, hmmmm... can we make this happen logistically?  So I quickly emailed Ross at One Word Tees and explained my dilemma.  He said he would do his best to get a shirt to me by Friday, the 24th (the event was Saturday, the 25th), but couldn't guarantee delivery.  Well, this being Wednesday, the 22nd, now I told him I totally understood; but let's give it a shot.  I think we can do it. And even if it doesn't arrive in time, I don't care.  I know "Mr. Cindi" will love it and appreciate the thought. :)

Ross didn't hesitate.  He got the package off Wednesday ~ a big thank you to his lovely and talented fiancee Nicole for the special drop off at the PO!  One of the happiest moments I've had in a while was opening my mailbox Friday afternoon and there it was - a package from One Word Tees!

Long story (sorry) short - my husband loves his tee and proudly wore it beside me and supported me all day long at Project Hello.  The most fun though?  Going for a celebratory glass of wine (it was a good day) and a bite to eat after at one of our favorite local restaurants, Racines (nicest people, best service and yummiest food in town!).  For two hours people were saying "Hello!"   I joked that when we sat together we were a U2 song.  (Vertigo - "Hello, hello, to my place called Vertigo")

So if you are looking for something unique and fun, check out One Word Tees.  I love their concept - so simple and clean, but so fun!  And the service?  Well I think you can see - it is superb.

Thank you Ross and Nicole.  Customer service like this is what sets businesses apart.  And you are the best!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Like a Herd of Elephants!

Last minute preparations going on in the studio today for Project Hello at RedLine Gallery in Denver tomorrow;  but I did have time to create a few dog toys ~ or as I call them ~ "ChewUpons."  Because that's what dogs do best ~ chew upon ~ anything!

These are "The Elephant in the Room..."  They are about 8" long; the seams are double-stitched for durability and triple stitched by the tail (after that it’s up to your dog). Stuffed with non-allergenic polyfill and NO squeakers. Safety first. Our dog toys are a squeaker-free zone; no choking hazards! However, dogs being—you know—dogs your precious may decide to chew off that tail or pull the stuffings out thru the ellie's trunk. (What's that you say?  "No!  Not my precious!") Should that occur, I recommend keeping an eye on the little critter.  (Both of 'em.)  I know my precious sometimes enjoys her toys even more once that nasty stuffing is gone and she can toss it around freely.  

The elephants are debuting tomorrow at Project Hello and will be showing up in my Etsy shop next week!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Magic Mice and More...

When people see my Wee Ones (and when I say Wee Ones now I'm including the Liten Venn Small Friends as well - it's just faster to say Wee Ones all inclusive :)) ~ a question I am often asked is, "Do you make pet toys, too?"  To date I have said, "They are on the list!"

It would have been easy to just throw something together and call it a dog toy or a cat toy, but I wanted to put some thought into it and produce a fun, safe, quality product.  I don't know if you guys do this, but I tend to try something new when I have the least amount of time in which to do it.  You know - like trying new recipes when I'm hosting a dinner party in six hours...

So it makes perfect sense that  in the midst of my preparation for Project Hello (I've made 50 Wee Ones for the event Saturday so far), that I would decide to develop a new line of pet toys to debut there, right? Of course, I'm frantically designing, sewing, developing catch phrases and information for the catnip toys and dog chew-upons; as well as narrowing down the choices to one animal rescue organization to donate a percentage of the sales to.

The first of the catnip toys, Magic Mice, came easy.  I mean, what cat doesn't enjoy munching on a good mouse?  These toys are made of soft fleece, double-stitched for durability (after that, your cat is own her own!) and stuffed with non-allergenic polyfill laced with ~ get this ~ home-grown Colorado catnip.  Kitty-tested and approved by my own cat, the very particular A-choo.  She gives her [slightly high] stamp of approval.  

Dog Chew-upons are in the works.  (Which, by the way, will be squeakerless.  No potential choking hazards for my puppy pals!)  Do you think I'll have them ready to debut by Saturday?  Stay tuned to my Facebook Page to see!

P.S. And be looking for the new line of "I Heart my Cat" and "I Heart my Dog" toys in my Etsy shop next week!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Meet the Happy Birds ~ Because Life Is Too Short To Be Mad.

I have always had an affinity for birds.  When I was a child visiting my Grandparents I loved the soulful cooing of mourning doves.  They fascinated me because I only heard the doves there.  So, of course, to this day whenever I hear that mournful "coo coo" I think of my Grandparents ~ especially my Grandfather (a retired farmer) and his bountiful garden.

Hiking thru mountains and meadows with my children when then were young, the sweet song of a meadow lark was always welcome music to my ears.  It meant winter was behind us and warm, beautiful hiking weather lay in front of us.  Hearing a meadow lark singing today takes me right back to those sunny days hiking with my little guys.

Today walking out my door is like stepping into wild kingdom.  Along with the bunnies scattering underfoot, house finches are feeding at one feeder; goldfinches chowing down on another.  Hummingbirds buzz past my ear and red-tailed hawks and American white pelicans soar overhead.

So yes.  One could surmise I have a fondness for birds.  :)

So with birds being so popular these days (those of the angry breed in particular), I wanted to bring my love of birds to my Wee Ones.  So welcome my new line of "Happy Birds" ~ because life is too short to be mad all the time.  *wink*

Meet (front to back, left to right) - Tango, Sunny, Rufus, Cinder, Twinkle, Boo and Apple.  Coming to my Etsy shop soon.

P.S. Apple just flew into the shop
Sunny just flew into the shop

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Meet Scout ~ the Star of the Upper West Side!

Little did I know when opened my Etsy shop where this little adventure would take me.  It took a few months to find my focus and when I settled on designing things for kids - with my original designs - I knew I had found my niche.  And once I discovered the Etsy forums and started posting and interacting with fellow Etsians, my business began to pick up.

One day while perusing the forums I came across a post from a gal in New York City who was about to open a gift shop and she was asking if anyone was interested in selling their goods in New York City.  Hmmmm... I thought about it for awhile, ran it past my husband and my son and we all agreed ~ why not?  So I requested more information and the rest is history. In April of 2010 I signed a contract with Stephanie and voila! I'm selling in New York City!

Stephanie owns the charming Stoopher and Boots (located at 385 Amsterdam Ave.). Well, she thinks she owns it... Actually it is owned by her constant companion here, Scout.

As you can see, he is the main attraction in the shop.  So much so that Stephanie came up with a fabulous idea.  She carries a lot of my Wee Ones in her store, so she sent me a note one day asking if I could design a Wee Dog to resemble Scout.  She thought that might be a big seller ~ seeing as how he's the most popular and beloved dog on the Upper West Side and all.  I said I'd give it a shot.

I have since lost track of how many Wee Scouts I have created and sent to her ~ and they are sold exclusively in her New York City shop.  Scout doesn't seem too impressed with his Wee Clone, but apparently the kids in the neighborhood think differently!

So Scout (and - oh yes, Stephanie, too) have inspired a new project for cmh design ~ Wee Clones of your pet.

With the success of the Wee Scouts, I'm tip-toeing into the land of creating impressionistic versions of people's pets.  (With the emphasis on impressionistic!)  So, if you are interested drop me a line ( and we'll chat.

If you would like to follow Scout (and - oh yes, Stephanie, too) on Facebook here ya' go!

(Photos courtesy of Stephanie - and of course, Scout!)  :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hello Hapa!

One of the things I love the most about operating a little business is getting to know other people who operate little businesses. And I have to admit to having a special affinity for women-owned and operated businesses. I love how women support each other.

[Enter Susan.  Enter Janet.  Enter me.]  :)

About a month ago my fabulous cyber-friend of 5+ years, Susan Sabo, recommended my Wee Ones and me to a shop owner she does business with in the charming little town of Seal Beach, California. Within about 24 hours, the contract was signed and my Wee Ones were being created for Hapa Collective.   And here they are - displayed in an adorable bunny carriage!  I am so excited to know Janet Peters and be a part of her cool little store. :)

So the saga continues ~ signing with Hapa Collective brings the number of stores across the country carrying the Wee Ones to five!  I absolutely love each one of my stores and store owners. It is a blast working with them ~ and each and every one of them a woman!

Susan was kind enough to snap these pix for me, so thank you my friend ~ another incredible business woman! If you would like to see some of the most awesome pet portraits and wedding photography ever check out Susan's work here and here.   And if you would like to follow Susan's engaging sense of humour and unique photography, follow her on Facebook here.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Just Hangin' Out

Testing... testing...

My dining room has become a test laboratory for my display for the upcoming "project hello." I'm fortunate to have inherited some snazzy wire mesh screens/panels (about the size of doors) which are literally going to take my display to the next level. As in a few feet up in the air.

I am experimenting with shelving and am closing in on the perfect solution. I'm excited about the possibilities and looking forward to playing with my new display. I even ordered a couple of professionally made signs with my logo and tag line. Whoot!

As you can see, The Wees are quite excited, too. Onward and upward! :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Color of Business

I have spent the last couple of days educating myself on the ways of logos and branding and the marketing side of business. As my little business grows I realize it is important to hone in on such things. That - and I'm having some signs professional printed. (ha) I realized that as I start investing money in larger and more professional promotional materials, if I was thinking of making changes, now is the time.

I have known from the start the importance of branding and being very consistent with images and words - logo and tagline. (I worked in the cable industry for a long time and branding was drilled into me!) I don't like to change things too often; people will lose interest and/or not know who I am.

But with growth comes the need for change. And now I know just enough to be dangerous. *wink* Since the bulk of my products are child-oriented I focused on which colors would work best for a child-oriented business. I learned that colors in a logo are very important. Who knew that colors can have a subliminal psychological effect on us? It's so interesting. There are tricks to this advertising gig. I learned that orange represents fun, lightheartedness, youthfulness, creativity - and purple has many of the same qualities. They are happy, cheerful colors and appeal to children. Children who will drag their Mama and Papa by the hand to a booth with an orange and purple logo. So it seemed logical that orange and purple should be my color combo, no?

Running it by my pal Stephanie of Stoopher & Boots (who ironically uses orange and purple in her logo as well and is well-schooled in the ways of a child-oriented business), we agreed it was a good choice.

So my teal pup is now orange (and in need of a name...), the text purple. I'm in the process of changing things across the board - all my printed material and all my online venues. For starters I freshened up my blog here with some simple color in the background that kind of coordinates with my new color scheme. I'd love to hear what you think of my new look ~ the logo and the blog. Especially if you like them. *wink*

Onward and upward, peeps!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Special requests can be challenging, but they always move me forward and take me to places I would not think to go myself.

I had a special request for a giraffe pillow (which turned into two identical giraffe pillows). These are going to be a gift to a wonderful woman who does amazing philanthropic work. Her favorite charity is her local zoo and giraffes are her favorite critter. So the request was for a "mature" looking giraffe to appliqué on a pillow for a grown-up woman.

I finally settled on a silhouette; finally found the right fabric and went to work. It may not look difficult, but it was a challenge. But one I am so happy I accepted.

She deserves the best; I hope she enjoys them!