Who can make the tissue case that cute and creative, if you like a animal lover, you will love Sparkly Pony. I never seen tiny boyfriend box and tiny zombie in the box, how cool is that? I want to share with all of you how cool this designer create Sparly Pony…..
Q: Would you share with us how you started to create your artwork?
I have loved to draw, build, and create things since I was a small child. I would draw on napkins and under tables. Instead of just playing with action figures or toys, I would build houses, furniture, clothes and vehicles for the toys. At recess I would build small structures from bark and sticks. Today I am greatly inspired by wildlife, child-like imagination, and vintage packaging. I learned a love for working with wood from my father and my grandfather.
Q: What's a story behind your brand?
I used to use the name "Diligent Sloth," but wanted something more bright and cheery for a new chapter in my life. After drawing many random words in a sketch book, I liked the ring that "Sparkly Pony" had to it. Sparkly Pony was born after taking a risk and quitting my job. I was working at an art museum, where I believed I wanted to be, but quickly became very dissatisfied especially with the politics: whoever donates the most determined what and where art was hung. It took about three months of trying different items to sell before I really got a winner with my Whale Tissue Holders. I was very lucky and once my items where discovered they went viral and were shared on thousands of blogs and in over a dozen magazines.
Q: What is your working schedule like?
When I first started to get orders 5 years ago I worked 7 days a week. It was so stressful! Today my work week is only Monday through Friday. I start at 9am and end just before or just after 5pm. Because orders sometimes spike with a big feature somewhere, or with the holidays, I can many times work 12-16 hours a day to ensure orders go out on time. I always takes Saturday off no matter what though.
Q: Which type of material do you like to use the most and why?
My favorite material would have to be sustainably sourced wood. I have been working with wood since the age of 12 and have never looked back. What I love most about wood is that it offers endless possibilities, but also applies certain limitations. I love designing within limitations as it really causes me to use my imagination.
Q: Which piece is your favorite or sells the best?
My all time best seller would have to be my Whale Tissue Holder (especially in the color cyan). I have hand made, signed, numbered and sold over 3,500 of these, plus another 500 or so tissue holders in other animals. My favorite animal is the Dinosaur Tissue Holder. My items are currently in over 30 countries and on every continent except for Antarctica.
Q: Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration when creating new products comes from thinking of a need a person might have and providing a product to fill it. Whether it is practical like a tissue box cover or planter, or if it is more emotionally supportive such as "Your Own Tiny Boyfriend or Girlfriend or an Insta-luck to help a loved one get through a break up, a bad time, or a rough circumstance. I also look to see what waste I am producing and resolve to use it. I had small pieces of wood and a lot of saw dust from making my tissue holders, so I made tiny boxes and used the sawdust as packaging for the tiny boyfriends.
Q: Do you remember when you sold your first item and how you felt?
Yes, I remember when I sold my first item. I was over the moon. I had been so sad, nearly depressed, for many months when nothing would sell. It's almost unbelievable when you first start selling items that someone really wants what you are making.
Q: What's the hardest part of your design career?
The hardest part of my design career has to be making the same items over and over because I have so many other ideas, but no time to make or introduce them because the old ones are in demand. My first two items that I ever made are the two that I make a living off of, but I have sketchbooks full of other ideas. Also, as much as I love working with wood it is very hard on my joints, my hearing, my breathing (due to sawdust), and is just generally difficult labor. Sanding, sawing and nailing are not very peaceful activities!
Q: Which part of working do you enjoy the most?
My favorite part of working on a design is seeing the very first one come to life. I love the process of creating an idea that can be reproduced many times. I generally do many loose sketches from an idea, then go to more finalized sketches. I love comparing the very first loose sketches to the final product. It is so neat how we can visualize something in our heads and make it into a real, tangible object.
Q: What it your next project?
My next project is going to be an all-over printed cat shirt and sweatshirt. I really love the softness of textiles after so many years of working with wood. It's a way to take my designs or illustrations and place them on to something practical.
Q: What kind of books do you like to read, and what kind of music do you like?
I am very passionate about wildlife conservation. I volunteer hundreds of hours each year locally and online to places overseas. I do fostering of orphaned squirrels in a nursery that I had built at my home, I manage social media & do fundraising for my local wildlife rescue (I've helped to raise over $25,000 this year), and I donate webdesign, graphic design, fundraising and social media services to overseas organizations that help raise money for big cats like tigers and lions (my favorite animals, besides my domestic cat, Button).
Q: If you were not a designer, what do you think you would be?
If I was not a designer, I believe I would be working in an art museum somewhere. I went to school for both art and chemistry in hopes of being an art conservator. That ship has since sailed, but if I ever do change my career I cannot imagine it not involving some type of design work.
Q:.If young people want to follow the same path as you, what would you suggest?
For anyone wanting to be a full time designer instead of designing just for fun or a hobby I would suggest a few things. First, it is important to make things that you really like and feel happy about, but it also has to be something that other people will want to purchase. Second, the number of views your items get is essential to getting sales. The most wonderful item in the world with no views will not sell, while something that has been copied or done over and over with tons of views will likely get many sales. Because paying for advertising in today's world is far too expensive I recommend taking advantage of social media. What I mean by that is not to put too much stress on your own social media, but to make products that people will want to share on social media. That has been the key to my success. The types of things people like to share are humorous items, beautifully yet ironically designed items, emotion-inducing items and clever items. Go to your favorite corporate online store and try to remake how they shoot their products' photos. Don't be afraid to price your new items a little low until people start buying them– then increase it so that you could cut the retail price in half and make it to wholesale. While there are people out there able to make one-off designs, I also suggest creating products where the exact materials can be sourced again and to where you can re-use the same photographs. Make products that YOU would want to purchase.
Q: Is there anything you want to share with us?
One of my favorite things about being a designer and working for myself is having the opportunity to get to know who I really am on the inside. While I do miss collaborating as a team with other people, I have been able to learn so much about myself and what I'm truly interested in. It has allowed me to follow other passions and make a difference in the world because of my flexible schedule and talents as a designer.