Today’s Sunday Superstar is… Flaky Friends!
Welcome! What is it you do?
I’m a plush toy designer and turn all my random doodles into huggable stuffed animals. I am a self-taught toy maker and so my style is totally unique and I’m able to improvise to create pretty much anything anyone could ask. I’ve never had a toy I couldn’t make, but am always up for a challenge. Some of my most popular characters came from custom orders and I love stretching my creativity. I used to be a humor writer, but after having kids, writing, and 24/7 mothering didn’t work together, so I was looking for a new pastime that worked with being a mum. So I began sewing. But as a nod to my old writing, each animal has a great biography complete with emotional baggage, strange fetishes, personality disorders, just like you!
Tell us a bit more about your work/company:
I started creating these guys in January 2008, and my first creations were worse than terrible. My friends and family all tried to dissuade me from continuing, but my two little girls just loved it, and so I kept working on designs and construction, and after a few months, someone asked if they were for sale. Sweet vindication! I opened an Etsy shop, and the rest is history. Now, I’m really busy selling at local art events in Las Vegas, Nevada, and do most of my business face-to-face. I love seeing how people react to my toys in person and love how toys bring out the kid in everyone, regardless of age. I love it when a crusty, middle aged man melts into a pool of goo over one of my toys.
Are there any eco aspects to your company? If so, explain:
When I’m sewing, I can’t eat. And I never stop sewing so I guess I’m doing my own little part to stop the disgusting food waste that goes on here in America. Sorry, that’s all I’ve got. There are a tonne of regulations for children’s toys, so I have to use all new materials in order to be allowed to sell them in toy shops in the USA.
What makes your company / work unique?
My ability to make ANYTHING. Seriously. Check out my online portfolio at www.flakytown.com to see what I’ve taken on. The weirder the animal, the better. I’ve got a very recognisable style and many people tell me the reason they bought the toy is because of the background story. I try to give all my characters relatable
How would you best describe your aesthetic?
If it looks like it’s being squeezed to death, it’s probably a Flaky Friend. And it’s got to be SUPER soft. I’m a really tactile person and it’s got to feel great.
How long have you been in business and how did you start out?
In December 2007, I saw a book at the store of someone who made weird sock creatures and was tickled that someone would really spend all that time making senseless, ridiculous creations like that. I saw that all the author’s creations were based off his doodles, and thought it looked like fun so I decided to try
converting my own doodles to stuffed animals. It was really hard and time consuming to figure out how to do it, and I spent a lot of time in toy stores feeling for the seams of toys and trying to figure out the secrets of toy construction, but I now feel like I’ve got the skill arsenal to create anything.
Why did you name your company what you did? Does it have any special meaning?
Simple – my last name is Flake which many people find silly. I’m trying to make the best of a bad situation
and make the joke first. So of course, they are my Flaky Friends.
What 3 words best describe you:
decisive, limitless, headstrong
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
A geologist. I’ve always loved the forces of the earth. But then I got to college and found of that chemistry class didn’t love me back so it’s remained just a hobby for me. Rocks rock.
What/who inspires and/or influences you?
My two little kids – I have two girls, ages 5 and 3, who are always requesting new toys or giving advice on colors and fabrics. They get on my case if I haven’t sewn in a few days and help me with stuffing my finished creations. I started sewing these for my oldest daughter, and when everyone else was telling me to stop,
they urged me to continue. I love having a child’s input when making kid’s toys.
Where do you want and what do you want to be doing in 5 years time?
Sitting in my sewing room doing the exact same thing with twice the amount of children playing around my ankles. I’m really happy with where I am right now. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to find a major toy company who could produce my line of toys, but if not, I really love my handmade line that I can micromanage. I am trying really hard to help revitalise the Las Vegas art scene, so hopefully I can help our local residents appreciate the handmade arts. Right now all they appreciate are the casinos. I’ve started a local artisan group (www.handmadeinvegas.com) and would love to have our group be a major force in bringing an art museum back to Vegas. Right now, there isn’t a single one.
What advice do you have for other artists, crafters and designers?
There are no risks when your creativity is involved. Go for it! Your artistic failures almost always lead to new discoveries. Think less, craft more. Never let your business take control of you or you run the risk of losing the love for your passion. If this means keeping it small, so be it. But passion for your craft can take you a long way and make the harder business aspects easier to swallow as well.
Do you have any events, promotions or launches coming up?
I sell every First Friday of the month at the big Las Vegas art community event from 6-10pm. If you’re in town, stop by to say hello and see what Friends are on the table. (http://www.firstfriday-
lasvegas.org) I also sell every Third Thursday at the Henderson, Nevada ArtsWalk event from 5-8pm. (www.hendersonartswalk.com)
My items are also available weekly at the Fresh52 Farmers market from 8:30 to 1pm. (fresh52.com) I do many other one time events, and keep a schedule of upcoming events on my site.
Are you willing to offer any kind of discount, offer or incentive if a customer mentions this interview?
Free shipping in the United States and Free worldwide shipping on orders over $10.
PLUS, FLAKY FRIENDS is generously donating a $30 gift voucher to one lucky reader who comes up with a CRAZY animal idea for a new FLAKY FRIENDS toy!
All you need to do to enter is leave a comment with your FLAKY FRIEND TOY IDEA! Easy!
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Entries close August 29th 2010. Get your entry in quick for your chance to win!