Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Designer Interview: Jan Willett

Monkeys by MonkeyShineStudio

Tiny Hanger is proud to feature handmade monkeys created by Jan Willett of MonkeyShineStudio. These monkeys are the perfect gift and best friend for your little one. They are handmade in the USA from all American made materials. They are also machine washable, so your little on can bring it everywhere! Come visit the monkey families at Tiny Hanger or visit Shop Tiny Hanger
and choose from a wide selection sure to please all!

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a graduate of Hartford Art School, with a degree in sculpture and philosophy. I am an all-around handy-person, who only really feels content when she is DOING or MAKING something. Idleness brings out my demons!
Accordingly, I love to cook, bike ride, work out, sew, paint, draw, etc.

Tell us about what you are selling at Tiny Hanger.

I sell handmade sock monkeys! Made in America, of American materials, machine-washable and safe for all ages,  of brightly-colored woven designs featuring recycled cotton fiber.

Do you make other things? 
This is my third "family", the Gaia Troupe, consisting of 8 different designs. The other 2 troupes, the Beantowns and the North Woods Troupe, can be seen on my website, www.monkeyshinestudio.com. They were made in limited editions; however, a few of the most popular designs from these troupes have been "reprised", and are available for sale on the site. I also make sock-topuses, cards, magnets and T shirts, and have made sock  penguins in the past.

Tell us about the materials you use to make your Monkeys. 

The monkeys are made with American sourced ingredients. The socks are woven in New Jersey, the fill is made in Connecticut, and the Gaia Troupe is assembled by the good folks at Opportunity Threads, a worker-owned sewing co-op in North Carolina.

I have a close connection to Hanuman, the Hindu monkey-god and helper of humans on the material plane. He helped me through a long illness, and connected me spiritually to my older brother Mark, who has since passed away.

The sock monkey is, to me, a symbol of the inventive American spirit; the desire to "make it work" with whatever materials come to hand. The first sock monkeys were made by Americans during the depression, out of old socks, as dolls for their children.
I like to think that I bring this spirit forward into the new century, with bright new riffs on a vintage pattern.

Any words of advice or inspiration for aspiring designers?

Follow your passion! You must believe in your product in order to make it "real" for others. Don't waste your time trying to make things you think they will "want"; many times people don't know they need something until they see it! If your product has your soul in it, it will shine.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Artist Interview with Lisa

Interview with Card Maker, Lisa

Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am Lisa, mom of two silly girls, Ellie and Stella (ages 6 and 3.5) and wife of a even sillier guy.  We live in Brookline, walking distance from Tiny Hanger, which is our new favorite hang out these days.  I grew up in the cosmopolitan city of Hong Kong, attended high school at Hong Kong International School, followed by college at Tufts University then graduate school at Harvard Graduate School of Education.  Over the years, I have had the privilege to be in many fields from corporate retail to international trade to start up business to teaching preschool and elementary school.  Since being a mom, I have created an educational App, Chinese For Munchkins, which teaches kids Mandarin and Cantonese.   In addition, I started Stellie Stationery, a wonderful card company.  The name Stellie came from Stella + Ellie and the girls absolutely love that.  We have lived in Brookline for the past 11 years and have no plans to move for a long while.

Tell us about what you are selling at Tiny Hanger.
I sell handcrafted cards that are unique and fun.  Birthday cards, Thank you cards, Holiday cards, Baby cards and Everyday cards.  All the card stock is super high quality and made in USA.  Please follow Stellie Stationery on Facebook or check out www.stelliestationery.blogspot.com!

What inspires the designs for your unique card?
I get inspiration from all around me.  The changing seasons, the colors in the sky, architecture at every corner, old photographs and interesting patterns found in nature.   My girls inspire me when they create art; splashing paint on paper, making leaf collages, creating finger paintings, designing paper doll outfits and glitter gluing craft paper.  My nephews, Matthew and Jason (ages 9 & 11), also give me useful feedback and new perspective on card making.  They love to mix and match pop-up designs and tell me what colors go better together.  I learned that kids really do have all the answers; their brains just have to be prodded with the right questions.  Children fascinate me everyday with their curiosity, ideas, funny comments and random thoughts!

What inspires you to make your creations/collection?
I started off with Thank you cards and Birthday cards, as they tend to be most popular.  However with growing demand, I started making Baby cards, Anniversary cards, Blank cards, Holiday cards and Graduation cards.  There is a card for every occasion, better yet,  the best ones are for no reason at all, like the unexpected Hello cards.

What else do you do? 
As a kid, I enjoyed creating things and making tangible things with my hands.  When I was a teenager, I started working with clay and later spent a lot of time on the wheel making ceramics.  I enjoyed throwing cups and bowls, glazing and waiting for the final products to emerge from the hot kiln.  Years later, I am making cards on a regular basis and there is so much joy in seeing the paper creations done.  It's nice to know that in some small way, I am preserving the tradition of writing and sending hand-written notes.  It's truly so much more personal than sending an email. 

Three years ago, my friend, Heidi Spurrell and I were looking for a Chinese language App on the iPhone and couldn't find a good one, so we decided to create Chinese For Munchkins.  There are number and animals' cards, matching and counting games.  This App is compatible with Apple iPhone, iTouch and iPad.  The graphics are recently updated in higher resolution.  Please check out www.chineseformunchkins.com! Thanks to all our fans for spreading the word, Chinese For Munchkins has been downloaded all over the world from USA to Denmark, Russia, China, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and beyond.  We couldn't say enough Shei Shei or thanks!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Designer Interview: Veronica Serrato

Cards by Veronica Serrato

Tiny Hanger is so excited to host cards by Veronica Serrato since our opening last year. Veronica hand-makes cards for numerous occasions such as baby showers and birthdays.  Recent customer favorites are her animal-inspired line that can be used for any occasion.  

Lucia's first quilt
In my pre-boutique life, I worked with Veronica at a local social service agency.  She was always known as the Master Crafter.  She promised a group of us that she could teach us how to make a baby quilt in a day. Well, I did make a baby quilt, but it took longer than a day!  Here is my first quilt I made for my niece.

That quilting group is still meeting more than 8 years later.  Not only has she taught us amazing skills, we are a group of women that get together, get inspired and create on a regular basis.  This quilting group helped inspire me to open Tiny Hanger, as I wanted a place to showcase handmade items that were made by a person, a person with a story, a person with inspiration.

One of Veronica's Happy Birthday cards
Here is a little bit about Veronica.  I do hope you come check out her handmade cards.

Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a lawyer by day and training and a crafter by night and desire. I quilt, knit, cross stitch, needlepoint and make cards.  I started quilting in 1988.

Tell us about what you are selling at Tiny Hanger.
I make cards for birthdays, baby showers, new babies and just to send a fun note.

What made you decide to start your line of cards?
Lucia is a long-time friend and fellow crafter.  I wanted to support the Tiny Hanger as a great shop featuring local crafters.  People always tell me I should sell the things I make and this was a great opportunity to try that out.

What inspires your designs?
I see something and think that would make a great card. It might be a ladybug, whale or party hat. I get ideas when driving or standing in line at a store.  My mind is always creating.

What else do you make?
I make quilts and cross stitch frequently.  I do that for family and friends as special gifts.
Veronica's Cathedral Windows quilt

Any words of advice or inspiration for aspiring designers?
I think it is important to do something creative every day.   I have found that my card designs evolve and sometimes aren't what I planned. It has to be a fun process. The end result makes it worthwhile.

We hear that you are a non-profit lawyer, how do you balance that with your cards?
I try to craft at night and on the weekends. As a lawyer, it takes time, sometimes months or years, to see results. Crafting provides immediate gratification for me.

It's a Girl card

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Planet Goga

Welcome to our Artist Interview Series. 

Tiny Hanger features many local, handmade and unique designers.  We love bringing “the new” into Brookline.  
Check out our latest artist interview featuring Planet Goga, a sister team from Dorchester.
Stop in and see their creations!

Tell us a little bit about yourselves and your team.  

I, Sierra, am part of a family of artists that make Goga happen. My sister, Vienna, and I started the collaboration almost 5 years ago and make everything ourselves. We design, print and sew all of our makings and although many of our things tend to be one of a kind makings, we do silkscreen apparel which naturally duplicates as well as make our own patterns that we base many of our designs from. We have seasonal wares as well as flexible favorites. Everything we make focuses on sustainability, fashionability and individuality.

We strive for organic apparel made in the U.S. and we have 15+ original silkscreen designs that we print ourselves in Dorchester, MA. We have original sewn designs that span many years such as our Butterfly Apron dresses, starting as a layering dress for a 2 year old and expands to a 9 year old as a shirt. The Butterfly dresses are all one of a kind result but consistent in fit. We make winter tweed fleece balaclavas and long sleeve mittens called 'schmittens' that keep snow from delicate skin. The fleece is high tech and raw materials are from mills in Northeastern Mass. and sewn in Dorchester by us. Each Schmitten is accented with adorable designs. These are just a sample of what we do; we often follow our fancy with materials, designs, concepts and problem solving. We definitely live up to 'maker of mischief' title.

Tell us about what you are selling at Tiny Hanger.

We sell our layering superstar, our Four Season Butterfly Apron Dress. It fits 2-9+ years and although they all are the same cut, each one is a one-of-a-kind design. We also sell some of our original design printed apparel from ‘Not Everyone Thinks I am a Weed’ dandelion print, ‘No Binky, No Peace’, ‘Maker of Mischief’; Stargazer Extraordinaire’ and our popular ‘Bears on BIkes with parasol and sidecar’. One of newest kids on the block is our washable organic changing pads; a must have travelling companion.

What made you decide to start your line?
My first daughter, Calida was really the beginning. I saw children’s clothes as either design friendly, but wildly expensive and only lasted 6 months. Or the polar opposite inexpensive/cheap looking and had bratz/princessy logo and design focus. Don’t even get me started on trademark characters...ugh!  So, I started making her clothes. Being an artist, I kept challenging my weaknesses. Making my own patterns,  really sewing in general was all new. I experimented with fabrics, cuts, and was striving to make designs that grew with her.  My husband had silkscreening equipment from a skateboarding spoof company he had for a few years and I really wanted to push myself to come up with printed designs. It all snowballed from there. I love making crazy goals and striving to meet them. Vienna and I have done a ton of different ventures together for 30 years by then and it all fell into place.

Do you make other things?
Besides Mischief? Oh yes, we both have our hands in way too many other things. It is hard to reign us in. We do make many more one-of-a-kind designs like our Sassy and Winter Capers (sculptural scarves for women) as well as balaclavas and Schmittens (long sleeve mittens with common sense). We are both immersed in a variety of community building projects in Dorchester and Minneapolis. We also tend to get a little wild with building furniture, making pottery, painting our homes, redesigning friend’s spaces, reupholstering lost and beat-down furniture. Vienna makes/ remakes one-off clothing with some regularity. We both strive to make peace, wonder and joy in our hearts as well as in others’ hearts.

How do you collaborate from afar?
Telepathy. Obvs. It is kind of scary, we really share a brain. We seem to do our best thinking together (when Vienna flies out to Boston), but sometimes we come to the same conclusions even when we don’t communicate. Our aesthetics compliment and we have evolved together in our vision. I think we both thrive from collaboration.  Thank goodness for video chat! Even when we work together I get to a point where I don’t know where I should go in a project or design and she will pick it up from there and she does the same.

What inspires you to make your creations/collection?

I really don’t know where we get all my/our ideas. Mainly it is all problem solving i.e. “I could really use a pocket right now” or “This kitchen feels a little cramped, what would happen if we just moved that wall a little...”. My feelers are constantly absorbing and rethinking from the world around. It is kind of a blessing/curse.

How do you manage your kids and your line?
Great question! I don’t know?  They are always part of everything, whether I like it or not.

How would you describe your style?  
Asymmetrically practical modern hippie. We are scrappers- making do with what we have and always building a better/ better looking solution as we go.
Do you do this full time or in addition to other things?

Goga is part time for both of us. I (Sierra) am an art teacher at a middle school, and a parent. I have my littlest one the days I don’t teach. I am co-chair in my daughter’s parent council, starting a garden at that same school, volunteer in my community and am starting a bike, kite, and frisbee festival this summer at my local park alongside the park’s association. Vienna has some degrees and works in public health research. She is (too) deeply involved in her community and started a community garden on her block with other neighbors. She spends as many hours a day running, meditation, doing yoga, listening to music and singing, sewing, talking to neighbors, gardening and biking as is possible.

Any words of advice or inspiration for aspiring designers?

Go go go! You are unique and your vision is only yours. This is a good lesson for all people to remember. Also, really, just do what it is that you can do. Some of our earliest and most inspired work is messy and technically flawed. And yet it lasts in form and feeds imagination. Never let lack of experience stop you from trying something new.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Fantastic playgrounds

On a cold, rainy day like today, I'm thinking of all the fun my daughter and I will have at the playground this summer. Came across these fantastic playgrounds designed by the Danish firm Monstrum. Lots of fantastic stuff, these are some of my favorites, and Brookline pirates, be sure to visit Emerson Park for some big pirate ship fun.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Tufts grads sure do like cute stuff with elephants!

Jumbo statue on the Tufts campus

It seems every weekend, someone will come in asking what we have with elephants on it. After packing up lots of elephant bibs, elephant shirts, elephant blankets, elephant necklace charms, even elephant Crawlings kneepads, I finally realized
Tufts grads sure do love their Jumbo.

And, thanks to the internet, I now know P.T. Barnum was a Tufts grad, and Jumbo was a very real, very big, and very special elephant. Take a read of this fascinating story behind the Jumbo

My favorite elephant something at the Tiny Hanger is Nugget, the little Jellycat. Got him sitting on the counter with me right now.

I may just have mascot envy. As a UMass–Amherst grad, I must admit, a Minutemen just isn't cuddly, and tiny tri-corner hats for toddlers are not practical.

Guess it could be worse, my school mascot could have been this guy.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

We found the best baby and toddler sunglasses!

Before opening our store, we didn't realize how difficult it would be to find the right sunglasses. We did extensive field testing with our five-year old, and found most were just too easy to break. There was one brand with the cutest packaging we planned on carrying until the lens kept popping out in playgrounds all around town. Don't get me going about the sunglasses sold on the bargain racks at supermarkets and gas station that don't offer the real UV protection. I want my daughter's sunglasses to offer at least the same protection as the glasses I wear.

That's why we're so happy to have Real Kids Shades at the Tiny Hanger. They stand up to the toughest sunglasses wearers with impact-resistant lenses and strong-sides that really flex. Our newborn to 24 month styles come with a comfortable adjustable neoprene band that keeps the glasses on kids' heads where they belong. Based out of Concord, all RKS glasses are certified BPA free, and provide 100% UV Protection to meet the most stringent light transmittance tests on the planet. I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing the parents that started up the company are scientists. They take product testing seriously, and have taken the extra step of posting all the results of the safety testing their website

Our family has lost toddler sunglasses many places between the Miami Zoo and Brookline, so we're glad we're able to sell the glasses at the it's-not-the-worst-thing-if-you-lose-'em price of $15-$16. Let us know what you think, and if you go to Miami, be sure to visit the zoo. So much fun, and splurge for the 'Safari-Cycle', it's totally worth it. And, if you take a camel ride, please give our regards to Fluffy and Grande