I think puppets are wonderful toys. They are cute, cuddly friends that encourage creativity, language skills, teamwork, and a host of other developmental benefits. Not to mention they are fun too! When I was pregnant with my little one last year, I found myself looking long and hard for gender neutral, environmentally friendly, safe and creative toys. A bit of a tall order, I know, but Cate & Levi fit the bill in every aspect.
Everything they make is made from all natural and reclaimed fabric, (eco-friendly? check!). Puppets and animals are certainly just as much fun for a girl or a boy (gender neutral? check!). Everything is baby friendly with no buttons to choke on, or pieces to pull off, and fabric construction means no lead paints or sharp plastic edges (safe? check!). And best of all, the toys allow you and your little one to come up with your own games and stories, and it can be different every time (creative? you bet!). From puppets, pillow pals and stuffed animals, to “zoo cubes”, wall art, and organic clothing, no two pieces are ever exactly alike. I know this to be true, because I think I spent 20 minutes debating the merits of different puppy puppets before choosing *just* the right one to bring home with me from a craft show last fall.
Check out Cate & Levi online to see the complete critter collection.
Today we also have the opportunity to get to know a little bit more about Josh, the owner and founding Dad behind Cate & Levi. He took a moment to answer our Feature Friday Q &A. Here’s what he had to say:
1. What started the creative fire burning for you? Do you remember a particular moment, a favourite childhood activity, something you saw and wanted to recreate or improve upon?
-my first creative pursuit was constructing a travel backgammon out of a beautull suede material
2. Where do you look for inspiration?
-always nature – if time permits, Algonquin
3. What part of creating your pieces gives you the most joy and satisfaction?
-seeing it through from concept to prototype
4. What is it about your creations that sets you apart?
-Made In Canada but available at a reasonable price worldwide
5. Why do you choose to work in this medium or format?
-reclaimed wool chose me – it was fate – we met at a “green” show
6. How long does it take to create one of your pieces?
-depends on the item
7. Do you feel that living in Canada has influenced your work?
-yes, there’s less brand noise than in the US so more ability to dream
8. What advice would you give someone who is just starting out?
-rewards come to those who persist
9. Who has provided you with inspiration or mentorship on your journey?
-wife, child and my family and friends
10. Where can we find you online? (webpage, twitter, facebook, etc)
Thanks for sharing Josh!
Have a great weekend,
A little while ago we posted about Bouncing off the Walls. We loved them so much (and plenty of our readers did too!) that we decided to get to know the creator, Kristina, a little bit better. Here’s what she shared with us:
What started the creative fire burning for you? Do you remember a particular moment, a favourite childhood activity, something you saw and wanted to recreate or improve upon?
I can’t pinpoint anything specific that started the fire burning, it’s just something that’s always been there! I think I’ve always looked at the world a little differently than the average person and for as long as I can remember I’ve been into art and been good at it. When I was a kid my mom kept a craft box for us. It was full of all kinds of stuff! Your usual craft stuff like paper and glue but also things we would find around the home or in nature; buttons, leaves, pinecones….the list goes on! We spent hours with that craft box creating whatever our heart desired!
Where do you look for inspiration?
I find inspiration all around me. Fabrics, patterns, the shape of something. Sometimes I don’t even know where it comes from. I’ll be lying in bed and an idea will literally just pop into my head!
What part of creating your pieces gives you the most joy and satisfaction?
I get the most joy when a customer lets me have the creative control! I think my best pieces are the ones where they just told me the colours or a couple little details and just let me work my magic! The painting is definitely my favorite part of this whole thing!
What is it about your creations that sets you apart?
My attention to not only detail but quality as well. Everything is double and triple checked to make sure there aren’t any paint drips or smears, no wood showing through; everything is top notch. I even paint the backs of everything! I spend a lot of time on every letter and I do many coats of paint to make sure that the quality is worth the money that my customers are spending. They don’t leave my hands until they’re perfect!
Why do you choose to work in this medium or format?
I’ve always had a preference for paint. It’s very forgiving and you can be very free with it! Plus, I love color!
How long does it take to create one of your pieces?
It all depends on the detail of the design. On average each letter that is painted with an artwork design takes me about 20 minutes to half an hour per letter. Some are longer if there are a lot of different letters or a detailed design.
What advice would you give someone who is just starting out? Who has provided you with inspiration or mentorship on your journey?
Try not to get discouraged and work hard! It isn’t easy and it takes awhile to build confidence in yourself and your business along with getting your name out there and getting known. Have confidence in your abilities, your product, your pricing and your business and it will come. If you’re starting to feel discouraged then it’s time to sit back and analyze everything and maybe change some things up. I’ve had a few mentors and inspirational people along the way but the ones that stand out the most are simply the ones that just plain old believed in me! The ones who got it! That understand where I’m going!
Where can we find you online? (webpage, twitter, facebook, etc)
Thanks for sharing Kristina!
Stay tuned for more Feature Friday segments in the weeks to come,
Have a great weekend!
As I mentioned on Wednesday, I had the pleasure of meeting Nikki Kelly at the Make It Edmonton show at the end of May. I hadn’t planned on going to the show, since we were supposed to be camping… but this is Edmonton, and we were chased out of the campground by an impending blizzard. Yes, really.
The silver lining to our aborted camping trip was a trip to Make It! I met many great crafters and designers, and was pleased to see some familiar faces and companies.
Nikki agreed, on the spot, to be our first “Feature Friday” interview candidate – as we discover the amazing talent in Canada, we wanted to learn a little more about the people behind the products, and so we’ll be asking a few of the artists to answer our C+H questionnaire! With no further ado, allow me to introduce Nikki:
C+H: What started the creative fire burning for you? Do you remember a particular moment, a favourite childhood activity, something you saw and wanted to recreate or improve upon?
Nikki: Ever since I can remember I’ve always loved drawing and if you look at my illustrations now, it’s pretty obvious my style hasn’t developed much over the years. Of course that’s all part of my shtick though… My cards intentionally look sweet, but have a very vulgar edge. As for how I came about designing greeting cards, I was reading cards in a local gift shop one day and it occurred to me how awesome it would be if there was a really sweet looking birthday card that said something really crude and unexpected on the inside. Since I had diplomas in both Journalism and Design I figured I’d start creating cards like that myself!
C+H: Where do you look for inspiration?
Nikki: Inspiration comes from everywhere for me. Sometimes I hear a word on tv that will inspire a card idea, other times it’s thinking about a certain friend or family member and developing a card around a certain personality trait they have. Though ideas really occur anytime and anywhere so I’m almost always carrying a notebook with me so I can jot them down as they arrive.
C+H: What part of creating your pieces gives you the most joy and satisfaction?
Nikki: The most joy I get in creating my cards is seeing how people react to the finished product. Since most of my sales are through retailers and online orders, I only get to see my customer reactions a few times a year at various craft shows. It’s reassuring to me to see that I’m not the only one with a twisted sense of humour.
C+H: What is it about your creations that sets you apart?
Nikki: Hug and Kiss cards are different from other cards lines because we look so sweet, but have such a sassy, sarcastic, sinister sense of humour. Sure there are other vulgar greeting cards out there, but you can usually tell what sense of humour they have because of the illustrations on the front. Having ours looking like they were drawn by a child really throws the reader off when they see all the swearing inside.
C+H: Why do you choose to work in this medium or format?
Nikki: Greeting cards were a medium that I just sort of fell into, but I think there’s room for my company to expand into other formats. I’ve already expanded to magnets, t-shirts and paintings, but I’m hoping to branch out even more in the next few years.
C+H: How long does it take to create one of your pieces?
Nikki: A card can take anywhere from five minutes to a few weeks to create. The copywriting has never been the hard part for me, it’s coming up with the illustrations that can take time.
C+H: Do you feel that living in Canada has influenced your work?
Nikki: I think in general Canadians have a really great sense of humour, which has made my cards really well-received. It helps that we can laugh at ourselves too, which is almost needed as the receipiant of one of my cards. Also, it seems we really like to support local talent, so people are happy to learn that my cards are all 100% hand-made here in Canada.
C+H: What advice would you give someone who is just starting out? Who has provided you with inspiration or mentorship on your journey?
Nikki: When you’re just starting out, you have to take risks. Sometimes they can be really scary, but you have to get out there and give it a try. I’ve been really lucky in having a very supportive family that has encouraged me not only to start this business, but to take it to the next level. My husband helped me out a lot when I decided to devote myself to the company 100% by quitting my part-time job. Hug and Kiss Designs certainly wouldn’t be where it is without him.
C+H: Where can we find you online? (webpage, twitter, facebook, etc)
Nikki: My entire catalogue is available online at www.hugandkissdesigns.com You can also find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=22701847512&ref=ts
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Thanks so much, Nikki! We look forward to seeing you at many more shows, and to seeing where you take Hug + Kiss Designs in the years to come!
~Sarah and Jennifer