Interview with Melissa Boyle of MarvelousMelissa Etsy Shop
What? You make cat toys out of old socks?!!
It all started with a crazy book called Doris Dingle’s Crafty Cat Activity Book. Among other goofy cat activities were plans for simple knitted fish and mice toys. I tried a few but just never got anywhere as a left-handed knitter. Meanwhile I had been saving old holey wool socks, thinking that some day I could put them to use. Nobody seemed to darn socks anymore. So in 1999, I began making darn!socks cat toys, and now I have tons of other
peoples’ old holey socks!
Reincarnating people’s old holey socks and wool sweaters may not be what I expected to do with my expensive four year degree in Environmental Studies. But my dreams of craftiness and domesticity have been fulfilled. I live in Duluth on the shores of Lake Superior, and now couldn’t be happier sharing a home with my partner and two cats.
Aven and Itty Bitty are my constant companions in my creative process. Aven enjoys writing the product descriptions and supervising all aspects of darn!socks and three blind mice creation. Itty Bitty on the other hand is great at looking cute and stealing things—from the smallest wool scrap to whole pairs of socks!
Esty Shop: MarvelousMelissa
All answers copyright of Melissa Boyle.
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1. How did you get interested in cats? How old were you when you had your first kitty?
We had always been a dog (standard poodles Rex and Coin) family growing up. Returning home from babysitting when I was 14, I carried a kitten across a busy intersection near my house. Without any calling the kitten proceeded to follow me the rest of the way home. My mom thought we should put an ad in the paper, thinking this little kitten was lost. I knew this poor dirty kitten was simply abandoned. Lucky for Dusty an ad never made it in the paper. Dusty was my first love in the feline world, dying shortly after I graduated from college. And with both dogs gone too, my parents are now cat people. Currently they share there home with Sundae. As a grown up I have shared the last 6 years with Aven and Itty Bitty. We found Aven on petfinder.com. Itty Bitty found us after not coexestisting so well with her former cat and standard poodle siblings.
2. How did you discover Etsy? Did you consider other ways to sell your products?
I had read a few articles about Etsy and new a few others selling there. I have pondered a website to sell darn!socks and three blind mice but so far Etsy has been the perfect start.
3. Do you sell your products in a local store in your area?
In Minnesota darn!socks and three blind mice are available at the Green
Mercantile and the Art Dock in Duluth. In Minneapolis you can find them at Linden Hills Co-Op and Urbanimal. Thanks to Etsy my mice are now available in Singapore at catdao.com
My Etsy store was slow to start off, but sales are definitely picking up. Being
featured on ModernCat definitely helped sales increase. I find the more time I spend promoting and relisting my items, the more sales I have.
5. Do your customers ever give you new ideas for products?
Not so much for cat toys, but customers have been bugging me to make dog toys for quite awhile. They are definitely in the works.
My Facebook fan page is a great way to show off your Ragdoll playing with a
darn!sock or three blind mice cat toy.
7. Are you a one wo/man show?
Sorta. I receive great supervisory assistance from both Aven and Itty Bitty.
Also my human partner assists a lot with tagging and trips to the post office.
Keep up Aven and Itty Bitty and see where the darn!socks and three blind mice
are migrating to with my facebook page: www.facebook.com/darnsocks
9. Do you do custom ordering? Can someone return it if they don’t care for it?
No custom orders, but the humans who do the shopping can always request their cat’s favorite colors if the wish. Returns are allowed if the toy doesn’t
please your kitty.
10. Can you share a story with us behind any of your products that you especially enjoyed working on? Maybe because of the story behind the kitty?
Most everyday making cat toys with two feline assistants is filled with stories! Aven likes just being with the cat toys. He likes to sit in the box amongst the toys I am working on, with me literally tossing the toys on top of him. As you can see from the photo, he also likes keeping an eye on me from above. Itty Bitty on the other hand wants to be inches from me as I try to cut or sew.
She is also prone to stealing things. From the littlest scrap to often whole entire socks! Just this week as I was working on matching ears to darn!sock bodies, she sat on the table quietly watching me. Next thing I know, she quick grabs a mouse body and tries to sneak off with it behind my sewing machine.
With Itty Bitty around I must remember to close my sewing room door at the night, or wake up to her loud meowing announcing her successful hunt. Or finding darn!socks strewn all over the house the next morning. She is also great at encouraging me to take a break by instigating a game of