We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Ly and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
My thought process to starting my own business came from my love of stuffed animals. My fondest memory is when I was a child and my dad would win carnival games to get the stuffed animal prizes I wanted. Growing up, when I played with my older brother, we always gravitated towards using stuffed animals as our main toys instead of action figures. I started learning to hand sew in middle school and became interested in sewing my own dolls and creations. I would look at the seam lines of stuffed animals and try to create my own patterns off of what I saw. I wouldn’t tear apart my stuffed animals as I thought it was too cruel. When I made my first stuffed animal (Soy Bunny, a rectangular bunny) in 2013, I received a lot of positive feedback and support from my friends. As a result, I began to mass produce my own creations from home and starting selling them at conventions. I wanted to inspire others and share my love of stuffed animals with everyone. I loved seeing and hearing people react so positively to my creations and it makes me feel incredibly happy and honored for people to have them in their homes.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am currently working with digital media and creating digital works and have sold some of my prints and drawings at conventions. Not only do I have artwork available, but I also sell my home sewn stuffed animals. As a business, I have both 2D and 3D works to sell which is definitely an exciting characteristic that I’m proud of. I’m also proud of being able to dabble in different mediums to express my creativity. It was not easy getting to where I am now, and I feel that I have a lot more growing to accomplish as far as my company goes. The biggest challenge that I face was my own self doubt. I had a lot of ups and downs, but when I was down, it was hard to push myself to keep going. But I have to constantly remind myself to keep creating and to keep putting things out. I also needed to push myself to take pictures and to stay active on my social media to show other people what I’m creating. It has become a public portfolio and diary of my progress and shows others what is inside my head. I’ve learned to stop comparing my work to others and to be proud of my own creations. Even if I don’t love what I made, I can come back and approach it from a different angle. I’ve also learned to do research on tutorials and see how other people have approached the same issue I’m having. It helps to get a second opinion, but there’s a fine line of comparing yourself and that’s something that once again, I have to remind myself to stop doing. I want the world to know that I am someone who wants to spread joy and happiness to the world with my brand. I started with a silly goal and once I said it out loud and with a little support from friends and family, the gears started turning me towards that direction.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I have just recently moved to Houston, Texas and with the little time that we have settling in, there have been a few places that stood out to us. Particularly, there is a restaurant called Hiccups and Churroholics nearby which serves different Asian cuisines and churros! It’s such a unique experience, but we’ve enjoyed all our visits. Of course with the Pandemic currently happening, we have only done take out orders. I would take my best friend to Hiccups and for shopping, the Memorial City Mall or the Galleria Mall. We frequented these shopping centers even when I lived in Beaumont, Texas. The most familiar to me and my favorite area, would be Houston Chinatown down Bellaire. I would take my best friend there to shop for unique gifts and novelties, eat and get drinks from the many restaurants and tea houses to choose from.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to thank my friends and family who have always supported my silly creations. I appreciate the fan base that I currently have that is growing steadily who are truly supporting my online shop as well as meeting them in person. I really appreciate my fiance, Carmelo Gonzalez, who has supported me from the beginning. He has always pushed me and kept me on track. I wouldn’t be where I am without his continuing support and love for me and my success of my company.
Other: Tumblr https://jennibeanplush.tumblr.com/