wow. once a week is pretty frequent for these TGIF features and giveaways. :) isn't it great? i really enjoy showcasing the work of fellow etsians. each person's work is so personal, i love hearing the story behind why they do what they do.
this friday we're featuring an etsy shop called zooguu. i found zooguu whilst etsy-stalking one day and just thought their creations were so cute! how perfect that they agreed to be featured and provide a special giveaway! i only wish i could somehow win. i do so love unique and special ornaments! :)
Q. Who are you?
A. Zooguu is a handmade toy company run by Jen & Brian Gubicza. Jen has been a graphic designer for over ten years, with a focus on design for kids and families. She started making stuffed animals for friends in 2003, and opened up her Etsy shop under the name of sweetestpea in 2006. Jen does all of the pattern making, activity creation and sewing work for Zooguu.
Brian has been a freelance illustrator for many years, goobeetsa, and runs a blog where he posts weekly illustrations - mostly of his dreams. Brian does all of the tracing and cutting, and also keeps Jen organized.
In 2008, Jen & Brian moved to Brooklyn, New York to take the plunge and become full time stuffed animal makers. We share studio space with a number of wonderful Etsy sellers: Katherine, Desira, Craig, Chanel, Layla, Macks & Sarah, and Mike. We have a gorgeous and very inspirational view of the Statue of Liberty from our warehouse studio space.
Q. When did you open up your shop and how did you come up with your shop name?
A. Jen opened shop as sweetestpea in January 2006. When we moved to New York, we wanted to make everything official and get organized. In Massachusetts, Jen did business under the name sweetestpea, but there was a business with a similar name in New York. Jen came up with the name Zooguu (zoo for animals, Guu for Gubicza, our last name) and registered as an LLC with the state of New York in the fall of 2008. We just started listing items in the Zooguu shop this year. It's tough to transition from one name to another, but we ultimately think Zooguu is a better name. It's unique, short, looks good, and is fun to say.
Q. What do you create and sell?
A. We mostly create plush based on our original designs. First we come up with the look of the new design, make a prototype, adjust things until they get right, and then create the pattern. Jen does all of the pattern design work in the computer. We've also been creating a library of free downloads on our web site. The downloads will range from paper toys to coloring pages to mazes and other activities. We'd like to become a resource for people who are looking for fun - whether that is a rainy day project or a high quality, handmade plush toy.
Q. What is your favorite item in your shop?
A. These days, we've been in love with the fugu. They're just so silly, and they fit our round shaped template perfectly. They're a lot of work, but we believe it's worth the result.
Q. Do you have any advice for newbie Etsy sellers?
A. Always carry business cards with you. Also, make sure your business cards have a picture of what you make. That way, the recipient will remember who you are and why they have your card. This is especially important at a craft fair, when people collect cards from many people at once and then can't remember exactly what they saw.
We would also say that you can't go wrong with exceptional customer service. It's the little things that count. You don't have to go overboard, but we always like to include a hand written thank you note in every order. We are grateful for each and every one of our customers and love hearing stories about what their animals get up to once they reach their destinations. :)
Q. What is the passion on your heart or your burden for this world?
A. We really love being able to share what we make with our hands, and know that someone out there is holding it and loving it. We also believe in supporting other artisans who make items that we use and enjoy. I love knowing who made the soap that I use, or who designed the shirt I'm wearing. Buying handmade items directly from the makers means we support smaller production and other individuals like us! It's better for the environment and for the economy. If the entire world made an effort to buy more handmade items, I think we'd cut down on a lot of waste!
Q. Lastly, what is your giveaway this fine TGIF!
(one winner will be selected at random the following Tuesday at 11.59pm EST. to enter, comment below with your favorite item from 1. zooguu and 2. MustardSeed by.carollai. an additional 5 entries will be applied to anyone who makes a purchase on MustardSeed by.carollai during this giveaway. convo email@example.com for a 10% discount prior to purchase. this promotion is only applicable during this giveaway. :) remember to leave an email address because if you are the winner, you will want to be contacted!)
A. My giveaway this TGIF is a custom ornament or keychain of your choice! Put your favorite animal and color choice, and whether you'd like an ornament or a keychain in your entry. You can also look in the sweetestpea shop and sold items to see other animal choices.