Vendor Highlight – Zooguu

Spring Bada Bing is less than two weeks away! We will be highlighting two vendors a day until the big day so you have the chance to get to know some of the awesome makers who will be with us at the show.

Richmond Craft Mafia’s Spring Bada Bing – at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

April 29th 10am-5pm

Meet Jen from Zooguu!

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How did you get started making your products?

I was a graphic designer for ten years, working for a company that specialized in design for kids & families. I taught myself to sew my own creatures to have a quiet, hands-on activity away from the computer screen. I’ve always been a maker of things, and doing it for a living for the past nine years has been an amazing, frightening and empowering experience.

How long have you been making your products?

Nine years full time!

Do you have any new products debuting this Spring?

Always! New designs include sloths, pigs, penguins, alligators & more!

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Tell us about your process.

I start with some rough sketches, showing different angles of the creature I’d like to make. Then, I envision the pieces that make this creature in my head. (This is where my sewing experience & ten years of designing packages comes into play). I draw those pieces right on the fabric, take more photos during the process of every piece, then I sew it up! Sometimes, if adjustments are needed, I make another prototype. Finally, I use the computer to make digital versions of my pattern pieces & scale them larger or smaller. The mini size often needs additional pattern adjustments to make it simpler. It’s all a balancing act: good design vs. how long that design takes to make.

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Do you have any long term goals for your business?

I would like to have more time to write up DIY patterns for sale & to do a series of illustrations for fabric & products. I’m currently collaborating with another artist friend on an illustration series featuring dogs, which I’m excited about.

Of all of your products what is your favorite and why?

That’s tough! I have a special place for the narwhals & unicorns, but I also love the newest creatures that join the lineup because I haven’t made a million of them yet.

What is your most popular product? Why do you think it’s so popular?

Narwhals & Unicorns reign supreme. Unicorns are just magical, and who wouldn’t want to hang one on their wall? Also, narwhals are the real life unicorns that live underwater, so equally they are equally awesome.

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Which of your products is most time consuming to make and why?

My one of a kind dragons. They are made from high end upholstery fabrics & creating an interesting color scheme is a fun challenge. Also, sometimes the fabrics behave in interesting ways and I need more time to work with them properly.

How much time do you typically spend making each product?

That’s always a tough question to answer. I sew by color. Meaning, if I have red thread in the machine, I may be sewing pieces of unicorn mane, dinosaur arms, dragon horns, etc. It’s more of a production lineup, with different parts sewn at different times to be efficient. I rarely make one thing start to finish in a single sitting.

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What drives you to continue making? Who/what is your inspiration?

Since it’s my main source of income, making money is definitely a driving force (not gonna lie), but there are easier ways in life to make money. The reason I continue on this path is that it’s thrilling to think of something, draw it out, make it and see it come to life! Then, knowing that others like what I made enough to purchase it is pretty awesome. I’m inspired by all of the other creative entrepreneurs I’m proud to call friends that I’ve met over the years. Being a part of a supportive community is pretty great.

What other Spring Bada-Bing vendor(s) are you most excited about?

We have so many nice treasures from this show! Handmade ceramics always catch my eye & I especially love Turner Bots.

Tell us about your most memorable day as a maker?

There are a lot of moments over the course of many days that add up to this interesting existence, but expanding into a 1200 sq. ft. Studio space would be a recent feeling of pride in how far I’ve come. I also love when people visit my booth at annual festivals & add to their collection, or tell me I’m the reason they came to a show. Sharing my work with people & connecting over silly stories is definitely a memorable experience.

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What is the biggest hurdle you have overcome with your business?

Growing & hiring some help with production, while maintaining enough income to cover that growth. I have a couple of helpers that cut fabric, paint boards and assist with working at shows. I guess a good sign is that we still sell out of product every holiday season, even though more is being made. It’s important that everything is still handmade, but getting help with certain steps frees me up to work on new designs and keep things fresh.

What makes your product different than other similar projects?

Mine are sewn based on my own designs, so the designs are going to have a unique look and feel. I also mount my designs onto boards, so they can hang up easily, just like a picture would. The fabric is also easy to spot clean.

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If you weren’t a maker what would you be doing?

I’d be a designer if not a maker, or perhaps work with real animals.

Do you support any important causes with your business?

Yes! We donate to Zoo New England’s rhino conservation efforts. It’s cool to be a corporate sponsor of their fundraising events.

Do you have any pets?

Yup! Lord Fishington, Duke of Tankinshire lives in the studio.

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