Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

To all the east coasters / anyone affected by Hurricane Sandy... I hope you're okay! Stay safe, please!

Here on the west coast, we have a much more normal Halloween this year. Got a few trick or treaters so far tonight, which just reminds me that I am one of the most awkward people on the planet. I actually opened the door to the first group of trick or treaters, but I was too nervous to speak... except to mumble "take a few." They were all very polite and thanked me... hah. I'm such a spaz sometimes.

Anyway, I wanted to share some of the beautiful Halloween decorations I've seen businesses put up this month!

I loved the cute pumpkins and lights put up by the little coffee stand near my work!

Remember Impress? They added these cute Halloween cutouts to their window display!

And... my favorite cupcake shop went all out! I'll be doing a more extensive post about it soon.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Artist of the Month: Alvin and Cheri Ong, October 2012

I love when businesses make it a part of their mission to share a positive message or cause... which is part of why I was so excited to have come across Furry Feline Creatives! (The other part being their incredible artwork and style, of course.) I'll let Cheri and Alvin tell you a little bit more about their cute and colorful business!

Thank you for joining us on Pink Wonderland today, Cheri and Alvin! Can you please tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Hi! My name is Cheri Ong - I’m the mastermind, creative artist and designer for Furry Feline Creatives.  I’m also a drummer and a avid fan of analogue photography. And I’m Alvin Ong - I write the stories for the characters, run the business side of Furry Feline Creatives, play guitar, and love everything geek.

Tell us about Furry Feline Creatives, how you started it, and the concept behind your business.
Furry Feline Creatives is a character design studio founded by Cheri Ong and Alvin Ong. Cheri had been drawing all her life. She made a career and profession out of it, doodling all the way since elementary school, drawing characters based on her friends and people she knew. We started off by doing a couple of t-shirt designs and selling some artwork at various venues until one day, we were chatting among ourselves as we were looking at our kids playing. We said to ourselves, “What can we do to teach them at this very young age that they would remember and keep until they grow up?”.  Being fans of popular culture and geekdom, we wanted to do something that we ourselves could enjoy, share, and bond with the kids. The idea of creating handmade plush toys came to mind along with a message or a story that reaches a wide spectrum of children to adults.  Like the dolls, there is a uniqueness in all of us that has to be seen and heard. We are made special and distinct from each other.

Cheri, I believe you started making plushies for the shop without any prior experience with it. How did you learn how to make them?
Sewing was the last thing I wanted to do, but I gave it a try. I watched YouTube a couple of times for the basic sewing patterns and Alvin was like, "Why don't you make the plushies like you draw them?" Since then, it has become an expression of my hands and to reveal what is on my mind.

How do you incorporate those concepts into your children’s lives?
We emphasize individuality. Just like the dolls, each doll features slight variations that enhance the dolls’ uniqueness. As young as they are, we teach our kids to be confident and embrace their differences. We also let them play with our toy collection... with supervision, of course!

Where or how do you usually find inspiration for your cute and colorful characters?
Everyday life brings is a lot of inspiration to our work. We meet all sorts of people from different walks of life. These usually brings us ideas in the way we create our characters.

Does your location inspire you in any way?
Yes - we are huge fans of pop culture and living in the City of Angels, Hollywood, with all its glitz and glamour. It's not too far away from San Diego, which hosts Comic Con International, the largest pop culture mecca in the world. We love it here.

Who are your favorite artists?
Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, and Simone Legno.

What do you like to do when you are not working?
We are both musicians. Alvin plays the guitar and Cheri plays the drums. You would usually see us playing some tunes.  We also take special time every week to go to department stores and browse around the toy section and see what the big companies are doing now.

Favorite animal?

What is it like working with your significant other?
Working together with your spouse is very rewarding because you get to work on something that involves love, patience, and understanding. You give and take ideas, and offer honest opinions and suggestions. It is the best team possible.

Are there any major events or experiences in your life that affected your work or business?
The birth of our two kids really prompted us to think about our work. It gave us direction for what we wanted to do and why we are doing it.

Tell us about your creative process and workspace.
We look for ideas in everyday life, drawing doodles on sketchbooks. Our workspace is by the window, literally, which gives us inspiration.

What advice would you offer an aspiring artist or someone who wants to start a small business?
We always tell people three things that we go by - not just in art or business, but in life in general.  
1.     Love what you do, no matter what other people say about it. If you believe you were put in this earth to do what you need to do, go do it.
2.     Real failure happens when you don’t start.
3.     Have the attitude that you will never arrive, but are always arriving.

Furry Feline Creatives was a vendor this year at the San Diego ComicCon and earlier this month at the New York ComicCon – how exciting! The winter craft fair season is coming up… any advice for small business owners who are preparing for craft fairs?
Be sure to keep yourself warm! haha.  But seriously, be prepared to work not just on your products, but also the look of your booth as well.  If someone passes by the aisle, you want to get their attention for them to come in.  Another is: be approachable. Greet and smile. The last thing you want people to perceive is that you just don’t care.

Are you working on any projects or pieces that you are excited about?
We are always working on exclusives that we are doing for comic conventions all throughout the year and are constantly working on various projects, some of which are top secret for now.

Tell us if there are any events you have lined up where we can find you and your artwork in person.
- Designer Con || November 3rd, from 9am to 6pm, at Pasadena Convention Center.
- Renegade Craft Fair Los Angeles || December 8 & 9, from 10am to 5pm, at the Los Angeles Historic Park.
And many more! For our full schedule, please check our events calendar.

Thank you so much for sharing your stories and advice with us on Pink Wonderland, Cheri and Alvin!

You can find Furry Feline Creatives at these places:

Artist of the Month is a monthly interview feature with an artist. I am very selective about whom I interview - I pick artists I believe in, whose style I truly love. See all previously featured artists here.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Power of Books

I know your lives don't revolve around when I do or do not post, so I'm not sure if you've noticed, but I took a brief (week-long) blogging break. I spent a lot of the time finishing up and shipping out orders in my shop (update on how the Heart Walk went soon!), editing seven college application essays for friends and family, as well as learning to put less pressure on myself overall. I have a tendency to set myself tons of goals that are doable, but not reasonably within the time frame I give myself. Then I burn out for a little while. So while I know I will never stop setting myself goals, I am learning the importance of and working on that whole "pacing yourself" thing. =)

I mentioned in my birthday post that I wanted to read the Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. My brother, Corbin, recommended it to me. In his birthday post, I also talked about how we used to read all of the time (he still does) and sometimes fight over who got to read a book first. I think the last time I read a book was in February of this year, and before that I'm not even sure. I always say "I don't have time for that," and it's certainly true... but let's be honest. It's not about having time for something, it's about making time for something. So I vowed to myself that I would shuffle around my priorities and make time to start reading again.

This past week has been a little crazy and stressful due to things I've mentioned above and other life events I'd prefer not to dive into at the moment. But no matter what is going on, as soon as I open that book and start reading, everything else disappears. Especially in a fantasy series such as the Mistborn Trilogy. For that brief time, I don't even exist - just the characters and the incredible world someone else has created. I've been feeling very strongly that I need a brief break from this life - a month-long vacation, to live somewhere else for a while... something. But in the end, I am still practical and realistic at heart, so I will stay here, physically. Books are a way to let your mind travel, at least. They have always been a favorite mental escape of mine and I can't believe I ever let myself forget that.

Last Friday, I had all these goals on my never-ending to-do list. When they involve someone else depending on me, I make those a priority. But most of them were just personal goals that really could wait a day, or a few. So instead, I started reading Mistborn. I set it aside for a few days to finish shop orders, editing the essays, and other tasks, but yesterday I picked it up and finished the first book. Mind blown. If you like fantasy series, you should absolutely read this trilogy. I haven't read the second or third books yet, but if they're anything like the first... they will be incredible. It's the kind of book that doesn't end with the last sentence, because it lingers in your mind. You think about it when you're laying in bed that evening and even the next day. The characters feel incredibly real, like you know them. It's more vivid than a movie, because a movie can't play directly in your mind. Someone else describes them, but in the end, you imagine everything with your own spin.

I'm learning that sometimes it's okay to give yourself a break. Sometimes it's okay to spend four hours reading a novel instead of writing a blog post, or go to bed at 11pm (instead of 4am) and finish editing those pictures the next day. So I have new goals for myself. I still want to do everything I'm doing now, but I'm going to learn some moderation. I'm going to be calmer. I'm going to make sure I'm healthy and less stressed. I already eat pretty well, but I'm going to start exercising. I'm going to read more. I'm going to put more effort/time/money/whatever-it-takes into charitable work. I'm going to make time to see my local friends or talk to my long-distance friends and family on the phone. I'm going to let myself be happy instead of just always being stressed. This means sometimes I'll only post once or twice in a week... while other times I'll post five or six times. And I'll be okay with it.

I do have lots of projects and other things I've been meaning to post for a while now, and I do plan to share them. So bear with me as I figure out how to be this person I want to be and lead the life I want. I also want to remind you that if you're like me - someone who used to read constantly but just doesn't have the time for it anymore - just do it. Set aside a few hours and start that book. If you're like me, you like to read books cover to cover in one sitting. Sometimes that isn't possible with the busyness of life these days, but even reading books in chunks is better than nothing at all.

Someday, I will write a book, or a few. I don't know what genre yet, and I don't have a plot. But it will happen. Books are one of the most powerful contributions anyone can make, and I think I deserve to at least let myself give it a try. In the meantime, I'll read the incredible contributions others have made to the world of reading. No excuses. Oh, and I'll let you know how the other two books turn out to be. =)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Help a Heart Update #2 & Fun Heart Links

Tomorrow is your last chance to place an order or donate via Help a Heart.
We have raised $802 together!!
While that is incredible and so humbling, I'd love to see if we can make it to $1,000! For anyone new, all revenue in my shop benefits the American Heart Association until tomorrow, October 19! First, I want to share a story from a coworker, Cathy, who explains why all of the funds we raise for the American Heart Association means so much to her. Then giveaways, new products, and other heart-related links. =)

Cathy's Story
Here’s my heart story.

June 6, 2004, changed my life forever.  That’s when I had a stroke.  Yes, a stroke at 48 years old.  It was caused by a birth defect…a hole in my heart…called a Patent Foramen Ovalle (PFO).  That was eight years ago and I still have left hand numbness and weakness and let’s just say the brain will never be the same.  But I am a very lucky stroke victim with minimal side effects.  Because we all know someone that has had a stroke event that did not fare as well.

So I gladly raise funds for the American Heart Association because it does hit close to my heart.

Congratulations to everyone who won a giveaway that has ended! There are still three giveaways currently running (including one new one since my first update). All of them offer extra entries for any purchases made to benefit Help a Heart. Please go visit these lovely ladies and enter the giveaways! And if you've already made a purchase, don't forget to get your extra entries! ;)
Jessa of Caked Vintage
Kate of Scathingly Brilliant
Mandy of Miss Indie

New Products in the SHOP!
I posted new headbands, purse charms, earrings, and lots more rings in the shop! Check them out! I also have hair pin sets and a few more garden rings that will post tonight in the final batch. =) Sorry for the crappy photos... I pulled an all-nighter trying to finish photographing and posting everything and still didn't make it. But I promise everything is really pretty in person! Click here to check out the new items above and so much more!

Heart Links (a mini T&TT post)
Just for fun, I thought I'd share a few pretty heart-related things I've found around the internet! Especially since I'm skipping out on Thoughts & Things Thursday again... so just a few links for you this time around. =)

Check out Katie's amazing and nostalgic finds! Love how she organized them in hearts by color. Man, what a find.
Aubree wrote about these pretty Milk brand bags, including the heart-shaped one below!

And... I'll admit, this isn't exactly heart-themed. But look at those giant hearts the dinos with mustaches are holding! Amazing, right? Definitely getting a set of custom matryoshka dolls from the Ponychops shop someday!! Chantal is one talented lady.

Thank you to everyone who has participated in Help a Heart in some way! If you have anything to spare and want to pick up some cute jewelry for yourself or as a gift (holidays quickly approaching!), please consider purchasing from my shop today or tomorrow! 100% of the purchase price will go toward a great cause!

Thoughts and Things Thursday is a weekly feature where I share links to articles and posts I enjoyed reading, artists I discovered, pictures I came across, and more. These may include things I found funny, heartwarming, sad, ridiculous, interesting, heartbreaking, or just important to share. Some are themed, others miscellaneous. They are things that got my attention and what I thought of them. You can read all of my T&TT posts here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Perfect Red Dress

I have been looking for the perfect red dress forever. Okay, I haven't been actively searching for one... but it was one of those things on my list of "someday I'll find it." Know what I mean? My dreams came to life when my favorite independent clothing designer, Jessica Louise, designed the burlesque coquet dress! Yeah, these were taken a little while ago, before I got my hair redone... roots galore!

Absolutely love the shape and all of the details. Bold red with vintage white strawberry trim. Sweetheart neckline and so many ruffles! I had fun pairing it with lots of skulls and sparkles.

Dress & Earrings - Jessica Louise; Necklace - Hookerfeathers
Ring - Blush Envy; Hair Accessories - Tarina Tarantino; Shoes - Guess

Even better, I just saw that Jessica Louise has a coupon code available right now - use "FALL12" for 15% off everything in her shop until the 22nd! I have a lot of her clothing - she really is the best!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Plush You Opening and That Time I Met Twinkie Chan!

Friday was the opening night for Plush You, an annual toy show at Schmancy Toys in downtown Seattle. Twinkie Chan wrote that she was going to be there... so Jacob and I went to meet her and check out the toy show!

I've actually never been to Schmancy before, though I've heard of it. It's not a huge store, but it was packed full of awesome and diverse, handmade toys for the show! Definitely a shop I'd stop by if I were in the area.

The jellybean jar was Jacob's favorite! Little plush jellybeans with all sorts of funny expressions... stuffed into a jar. So cute!

I posed (awkwardly) with a the two-headed deer and a tiny little fox. =)

Jacob chose a super fuzzy monster with too many eyes and a beard... hehe.

And... Twinkie's super cute crocheted tissue cozies were on display! Jacob decided to be super sweet and told me he'd buy me a gift of choice at the show. Can you guess which cozy I went home with?

Oh, and Twinkie herself! The way she's built up her cute, bright, and colorful brand totally inspires me. I'm a total idiot and planned my entire outfit colors to match the crocheted cupcake scarf I bought from Twinkie's shop... and then I forgot to grab it on the way out. Argh!!! Anyway, thanks, Twinkie, for taking pictures with my super-awkward (and forgetful) self! =D
My outfit: hair bow - CRSparkleGalaxy;  jewelry - Kelsea Echo, unreleased collection;
tank top - Jessica Louise; tote bag - Callowlily

No toy show opening night is complete without drinks and circus animal cookies. Right?

It was a fun visit and I would definitely recommend stopping by Schmancy to see Plush You if you're in the Seattle area anytime soon!
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