Monday, March 2, 2009

Meet the Mafia - My UglyKitty

Tell us about yourself and your business.
Renee, a 9-5 Environmental Scientist with an over-active creative twitch, and her "adorkable" kitty Quasi, who has a similar more-sneeze-less-creative twitch make up the creative team behind My UglyKitty. Together they wreak havoc on kitchen tables trying to perfect Gocco'd (screen printed) stationary, going on "sewing adventures," and trying to turn junk mail into functional works of art. Since 2005, they have built a reputation for creating exquisite custom, screen printed invitations, unique housewares, and Quasi's claim to fame, the UglyKitty Fund, which has helped raise over $2,000 for the local animal shelter.

Why did you start in business/crafting?
I started crafting because, well, it was forced upon me ☺. My aunt owned a gift/craft store (in the years before Michaels) and I spent my summers “working” for gummi worms. So I guess you can say that my crafting “business” started when I was 6 years old. My UglyKitty, however, started in 2005 as a way to justify my $200 a month paper habit. That habit has increased ten-fold, but at least now there is some income from it too.

How did you come up with your crafty name?
When I discovered Etsy, there was this big warning on the sign-up page that you wouldn’t be able to change your name once you’ve signed up. So I stewed on it for a couple weeks making sure that I came up with just the right name. Officially, My UglyKitty is named after my ugly kitty, Quasi. She’s got a bit of a cleft lip, making her sneezy and a little on the “a face only a mother can love” side.

What is your favorite item handmade by someone else?
Hmm, everyone in my family is an artist in some form so gifts are often handmade. My favorite off the top of my head is probably a stocking my aunt made me last year out of my grandma’s plaid wool coat.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?
I’m a total magazine addict and find the bulk on my inspiration from them. Patterns, stationary, and fabric is another source of great inspiration. I always come back from Paper Source with a whole head full of new ideas.

What are your favorite materials?
Paper, recycled paper, and more paper. ☺

What is the ugliest thing you've ever made?
How ironic ☺. I’ve made a couple pieces of custom wedding stationary that I really did not find attractive, but that’s all the info I’m giving.

What have you made that you're most proud of?
Probably my address boxes. I had seen handmade rolodexes from a few other makers, but when I figured out that magazine subscription cards make the perfect info collectors, I knew I was onto something. I believe that this is the most creative thing I’ll ever come up with. ☺

What's your favorite thing about Washington, D.C. (or the Metro area)?
Access to free museums. On more than one occasion, I’ve dragged my fiancĂ© through the Smithsonian Natural History museum rambling on about Crinoids and the Permian explosion.

What crafts do you still want to learn?
Letterpress. I actually bought a table-top one last fall and took a class, but I don’t have the time (*cough* money) to invest in the time to figure it all out and to purchase the parts I need to replace.

What is your idea of a perfect day?
I’m just going to pretend that I’ll all caught up on my work prior to this “perfect day,” otherwise the perfect day would be spent getting caught up. So, let’s see, perfect day…Wake up mid-morning to a fresh 2-foot blanket of snow, bagel with cream cheese, TV while I wake up, crafting (making journals, designing new cards, sewing, making stuff that’s just because and not because it’s for a client), bake cookies, bake more cookies, play in the said snow, good dinner with wine and some late-night DVR.

What is your favorite crafting tool?
My computer, hands down. I do all my designing on this thing and have nightmares about losing it.

Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Not much ☺. Between my environmental scientist job and my crafting job, there really isn’t much free time, but I love to travel, play photographer, and bake.

What advice would you give to fellow crafters?
Take inspiration from others, but you’ll benefit most by developing your own craft. Copying successful sellers may seem like a no brainer way to “jump on the bandwagon,” but in the long run you’ll be more fulfilled refining your own style.


Bette's Bags said...

I love your "Ugly Kitty"!

EricaBurnsDesigns said...

Those red velvet cookie thingies are making me hungry!