Fab Friends #1: Ugly Plants!
Welcome to a new series on my blog celebrating up and coming creatives, and people I have been lucky enough to met during my travels.
If you have met me in person you probably know that I love my friends, they inspire me, they are my support system and I just am genuinely lucky to have met really cool people throughout my 26 years on the planet.
This series is celebrating the small businesses of some of my most artistic and creative friends. Here, for my first piece, I interview my friend Anastasia Holl, the brainchild behind Ugly Plants!
First tell us a bit about yourself:
My name is Anastasia Holl, I'm 26 and I grew up in San Antonio, Texas, though I currently live in Brooklyn, New York!
Tell us about your work?
I am a self-employed artist, and I mostly design and sew plush toys by hand. I have more recently branched out into products that are centered around my illustration, such as t-shirts and enamel pins!
Tell us about your brand?
My brand is Ugly Plants! It's hard to describe, but I often fall on the term "lifestyle brand" just because I make items for people of all ages that, much like me, appreciate cute things in all corners of their lives! So I sell more than JUST toys or JUST pins- I try to focus on the feeling my products can provide people more than anything, if that makes sense. It's definitely a catch-all for the art that I create, and an outlet for my personal aesthetic, but really I strive to cultivate a happy environment that is present throughout all my items.
What inspired you to create it?
I originally started in college by making toys as gifts and taking on small commissions- I found that I had a lot of ideas for toys, and I really enjoyed making them, so I opened a shop in 2011! I didn't think of it as a business back then, but more as a creative outlet that provided me a small income through my college years. I really was making things I liked because I wanted to, which I think set the groundwork for what Ugly Plants is today- a collection of items I truly love and am happy to bring into existence! I've since expanded beyond handmade toys and have created clothing and accessories, as well, to sort of grow that "environment" I aim to portray!
What are your motivations for your work?
Maybe it's cheesy, but in all the creative work I do (Ugly Plants or otherwise) I really try and create items that will make people happy. Whenever I get positive reviews, or photos of happy customers, or kind words at in-person events, I really feel the most motivated to continue! It's like, yeah I can make all these things for myself, yeah I love them a lot; but when other people have that same feeling it's really special. It's a positive way to connect with people and bring a little joy to the world. I also feel, at this point, that I have so many people that believe in me and the work that I do, that I can't let them down. So I want to work really hard to make the most of myself and make them proud!
Who inspires you the most?
This is such a tricky question! Over the years, so many things have inspired me and my style. From an aesthetic perspective, Japanese pop culture and specifically the idea of "kawaii" culture has probably been the biggest influence and inspiration to me. I grew up playing bubbly, cute video games like Pokemon and Kirby, listening to Hello!Project and reading manga like DiGi Charat, FLCL, and Nana. I also have always been fascinated by Japanese street fashion, and have worn Lolita fashion myself for a number of years. On the other side of the coin, I was raised to have a strong appreciation for traditional fiber arts- both my grandmothers embroidered, my mother taught me how to properly sew as a kid, and I was always surrounded by bright embroidered flowers and beautiful folk art from America, Russia, and Mexico. I think my late grandmother might be the single greatest inspiration to me as a plush artist- she was an award-winning embroiderer, and always encouraged me to embrace these traditional arts. She gave me my appreciation for toys and for loving things just because they look nice, regardless of their utility. I think she would be proud to see the business I've grown from that appreciation!!
Where would you like to see your brand in 5-10 years time.
It's such a weird thing to consider, because 5 years ago I really didn't think I'd still be doing this! I didn't take my brand as seriously as I could have. Now that it's grown beyond what I ever dreamed, I feel like the sky's the limit. I already know I can push myself beyond even my own imagination (again, very cheesy!!). Ugly Plants is ever-growing, and I am finding more and more ways to build-up a stock list of items beyond just my handmade toys and really flesh out the brand, and each day it feels more and more legit. I'm finding that there aren't many more hours in a day that I can spend sewing, so I think Ugly Plants could make a gradual shift from a fully handmade shop to more of a design-driven brand. I'll always have ideas and I'll always be pushing myself to create, though, so no matter what happens, I know Ugly Plants will keep growing!
Lastly where can we find you? (website, social media etc)