Today in my Etsy Love series we chat to Clara from Claradolly who sells cute plush dollies. Each one of Clara’s dollies has a unique personality and I had a great time browsing Clara’s shop and meeting each of her creations!
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and where the inspiration came from to start your Etsy shop.
My parents are immigrants from Taiwan. I was born in the US, and I grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. I did my Bachelor’s degree in Illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design and a Master’s degree in Sculpture at the New York Academy of Art. I’m a bit of a contradiction in many ways: during the day I’m a fine artist and a college professor, teaching at Wellesley College and RISD and at night I’m a plush dollmaker and children’s book illustrator/author. I like how both sides of me tap into my creativity in completely different ways. I’m more widely known for my fine arts work, (www.claralieu.com) and so people are frequently surprised when they find out about “Dollies”, since it’s at the opposite end of the spectrum of my fine arts work.
“Dollies” originated back when I was a freshman at RISD and my cast of dolly characters has slowly grown and developed over the years. Back in 2007 I had a store on my website, www.claradolly.com but as my teaching schedule grew heavier I had to close the store and go on hiatus for a few years. Recently my teaching schedule has lightened and I’ve had more time for my own creative projects, so the result of that is I’ve been able to resurrect “Dollies”. I have a few friends with Etsy shops, and from doing my own research, Etsy seemed like an amazing community of artists that would provide an already established platform for my shop. So far it’s been wonderful connecting with everyone and being a part of a lively, vibrant community.
My favorite dolly has to be Emmadolly, I think she’s my favorite because she’s actually a distilled, unfiltered version of myself! One of the primary concepts behind my dolly characters is that everyone’s personality is made up of multiple characters, each of which represent different parts of you. Emmadolly is just one part of my personality: she’s incredibly determined and impatient and has no qualms about expressing her lack of patience regularly. In many ways all of the dollies represent me in some manner, but Emmadolly is definitely the one who is closest to my heart.
3. What is the biggest milestone you have achieved so far whilst selling on Etsy?
I think it would probably be getting my first sale within just a week or so of my shop opening. The thought that someone out there has connected with the work enough to want to own one of my creations is so wonderful.
4. What are your future plans for your shop and crafting in general?
I would like to expand upon my cast of characters, get my work more widely seen, and start doing more custom orders. In the past I’ve made dollies of each of my friends, and some of them tell me that their dolly is one of the best presents they’ve ever gotten. I would love it if someone asked me to design a dolly of themselves, or as a present for someone they know. There’s something about having a doll of yourself that allows for a process of self-analysis that I think is really intriguing. My other thought is to offer a custom set of 5 dolls that represent a single person’s personality. We all have a monster, a bee, a gremlin, etc. in us and I think the idea of making those personalities concrete through plush dolls is just fascinating.
Etsy shop: http://www.claradolly.etsy.com
Thank your for sharing your adorable creations with us Clara! I especially love the fact that you have an Emmadolly – not only do we share the same name, but I too can be very impatient and determined at times! I just know that your dolls are going to be a huge hit and I wish you lots of success.