February 09, 2010

Meet Rita, & Mochi Studios!

I asked Rita a few questions to get to know her and her business better!  I hope you love Rita's creations as much as I do!

Mochi Studios is a place of hand made wonders and cute creations stitched with love by Rita. Her passion for hand made delights carries throughout all her creations from the tiniest mushroom to the cuddly plush toys that all keep you smiling. Her projects are born from spur of the moment inspiration with a style that is vibrantly playful and full of kick-you-in-the-face detailing. Her favorite times to work are late at night when angry neighbors start to complain of her sewing machine rumbling their ceiling, during long drawn out phone conferences, and on nice sun filled evenings just before twilight with a cup of boba milk tea as her fuel. Her creations will charm you with their looks and defeat you with their cuteness.

Q: What inspired you to start crafting?
When I was young, my parents never let me buy anything, so I would make things instead. Much credit and gratitude goes to my elementary school art teacher who taught me to sew, weave, paint, sculpt, and above all, love to create. Also, my grandmother taught me to crochet and knit when I would spend summers living with her. Since then, I've always enjoyed creating handmade gifts for friends and family and teaching myself new crafts. 

My creations have lived in my imagination since the first time I picked up a needle. I didn’t have toys growing up so I would enjoy sewing or crocheting toys to play with to pass the time. As I grew older, I delighted in making and giving handmade presents to my friends and loved ones. About two years ago, I went to my first Maker Faire in San Mateo and fell in love with the DIY scene and was determined to participate in its craft fair called Bazaar Bizarre the next year! So the following spring, I applied with my collection of plush toys, bags, and pillows but sadly was rejected which broke my heart. Driven to pursue my dream, I spent the following six months refining my technique and focusing on developing a line of plush toys and Mochi Studios was born. Pleased with my initial success of launching MochiStudios.com and selling my plush toys through my website, I was still determined to break into the craft fair world. I applied to the SF Holiday Bazaar Bizarre and was thrilled when I got accepted! That was really the turning point for me and Mochi Studios became a full time part of my life.

Q: How did you come up with the Rice Babies and Ninja Beans?
The first Rice Baby I've ever made was a bunny one for my friend who loves all things bunnies. I made it as a good luck charm for her SATs so she could squeeze it in her pocket and smile. Then I started making Rice Babies in other animal shapes for my other friends' favorite animals. Back then, I actually filled the Rice Babies with rice since it was something that I always had lots of in the pantry and it gives them a nice weight too, hence the name, Rice Babies!
Like most of my newer creations, the first Ninja Bean I made was a gift for my boyfriend Lam for our anniversary in June. My Ninja Beans have since evolved since then. I made the first one out of black and white fleece and now I sew Ninja Beans from patterned quilting cottons and add a lot more embroidered and painted embellishments. I've had lots of request for customizing Ninja Beans for a special someone which is always a joy to make!

Q: Who are your favorite crafters?
Eleen is a local Bay Area artist who I first met at the SF Renegade Craft Fair two summers ago and who has really inspired me to start and grow my business. Her beautiful bags are made with gorgeous designer fabrics and are wonderfully handmade!
I also really admire the fabric dying and quilting work of Malka. Her work is always so vibrant and colorful and urges me to play with unexpected color palettes, combinations, and designs.
Also, Christine makes the most adorable plush creations with all different types of fabrics. Each of her plushies are so carefully made with so many loving details. My favorite part is the embroidered patch on the back of her larger plushies.

Q: What do you prefer - crochet, sewing, embroidery, knitting or something else?
I can't say that I prefer one art over another because I love them all! In everything that I make, I like to combine techniques. My mushrooms, for example, are embroidered and sewn by hand with crocheted gills on the bottom. If I had to choose, I'd say I probably enjoy embroidery the most because I can embroider embellishments and details to anything to turn something boring into something fabulous.

Q: What has been your experience with craft fairs?
I was nervous about my first craft fair but all my meticulous planning and preparation really paid off.  I made a checklist of my goals of everything I wanted to make to sell at the fair and set weekly deadlines so that I would meet my goals. I also researched other people’s experiences and advice about craft fairs which was really helpful in preparing me for my first craft fair. Here are some helpful links:

At the fairs themselves, I’m always really happy with my over-preparedness and really enjoyed seeing face light up and smile when they see and squish my plush toys and making friends with fellow vendors and swapping goods. Overall, it was a lot of really hard work and sleepless nights to sew enough plush toys to sell at the craft fairs and a lot of stress to figure out all the little details. I was so exhausted after two weekend holiday craft fairs that I sadly didn’t have enough time and energy to make Christmas presents for my friends and family. What I gained the most from vending at the craft fairs was the friendships I made with the vendors and customers, the exposure for Mochi Studios, and the satisfaction of doing what I love and making people smile (which I don’t get from my 8-6 job). I probably won’t do two craft shows back to back again but I do look forward to applying and vending in future craft shows! Here I am again, working on my application for the Maker Faire Bazaar Bizarre right now. Wish me luck!

See something you like? Feel free to email Rita for a special custom plush toy!

Thank you so much, Amy, for interviewing Mochi Studios!

Thank you for sharing Rita!  I hope you all go subscribe to Rita's blog so you can keep up with her and her exciting creations :)
Next steps:
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slow panic said...

love them. thanks for the post.

Natalia from Piece N Quilt said...

Thanks for featuring Rita today! I really love her work and it's really nice to learn more about her! YOU are AWESOME Rita!

Zonnah said...

I love Rita as well!

QuiltyBee said...

Great post--fun to know about Rita and WONDERFUL links on craft fairs. Very helpful.

Aunt Spicy said...

Her comments and links on the craft fair are great! Thanks for sharing!

Nina... said...

Thank you for bringing in such fresh, artistic bloggers to gust host your blog. What fun!

Crystal Stanworth said...

these are so fun! thanks for posting!

Anonymous said...

I'm a fan of Mochi Studios, but I learned so many neat things from this interview!! Thanks for linking to my fair info post, and those other ones you found as well are awesome! And yes, doing 2 fairs back to back is a killer!! I have 2 busy seasons Late Spring and late Fall, so when I'm ramping up to make enough stuff for all of them, I look at it like this - if I sell SO MUCH stuff at the 1st couple of shows that I don't have enough for the 3rd show, well, then, I've earned enough that losing the show fee won't hurt ;-) It hasn't happened yet, but it's a good thing to keep in mind!

Vicki said...

It's great to learn more about Rita and Mochi Studios. I think the ninja beans are about the cutest thing EVAH.

Petit Design Co. said...

eeep! look at those cute little bean dolls