Four local makers share the secrets of their success
Published: September 19, 2012
FOUNDED: December 2011
FIRST PIECE MADE: Henry the Fox
"I was looking and looking online for a fox stuffed animal for my son, or even a pattern for one." Bradshaw realized if no one else was doing it, maybe she should. Designing the pattern "was way harder than I imagined – it kept me up at night. I would just go to sleep trying to figure it out in my head."
TRAINED OR SELF-TAUGHT?
"I loved to sew when I was little. I've been crafting and sewing my whole life … [but] I majored in business at UCF."
Bradshaw used to work at Full Sail University, but quit shortly after having her son. She knew she wanted to build a business out of handmade, something she could do at home.
TIME SPENT EACH WEEK:
Close to 30 hours per week, mostly "while [my son] is asleep … during naps, at night."
EMPLOYEES: Bradshaw farms out sewing assignments to "a few local ladies" and has a business partner-investor.
SOLD: on their website, and at eight or nine retail shops: "A couple in New York, one in California, and in Hong Kong, Australia
With their exquisite detailing – not to mention the $98 price point – these aren't impulse purchases, but usually "special gifts … for first-time parents, new babies, unique shower gifts." But Bradshaw was surprised to see, in February, adults buying them for each other for Valentine's Day; their long skinny arms and nostalgic floppy feel appeal to a certain kind of grownup. "Learning moment," she says.
Sewing machine, obviously, but also "my handy gigantic stuffing machine. … I used to spend 45 minutes hand-stuffing an animal – now it takes about two minutes. It's crazy, the amount of efficiency that gained us."
Joy Cho, of dominating grownup-cute blog Oh Joy (ohjoy.blogs.com) "put us on her site the first day we launched." Then, in June, design-oriented flash-sale site "Fab.com approached us … we had in our business plan to try to get a Fab sale after our first year."
LOCAL MAKER SHOUT-OUT:
Anna Bond (Rifle Paper Co.) is a close friend and mentor. "She's so encouraging, and I'm always learning from her."
Two years ago, Nathan Clark gave his wife, Jenn, a candy thermometer for Christmas, on a whim inspired by a National Public Radio story about sweets. "It's not like he said, 'Now we're going to make marshmallows!'," Jenn says. The first candy they made was a batch of marshmallows: "Hard candy seemed … hard," Nathan says. "I mean, it's right there in the name."
> Email Jessica Bryce Young