About a year ago, we tried to find some attractive furniture for our cat, Lucas, and were rather disappointed. I thought I could create something better myself, something built from quality materials that were in some way respectful to the cat’s inner world and his needs. The furniture also needed to blend harmoniously with the environment of a modern house. I won’t discuss the qualities of some modern pet products and their poor design here, but I must mention that this situation has stimulated the creative side of my brain and certainly made my life more exciting.
Cabinet-making skills and knowledge from an Architectural Association course came in very handy when designing the flagship product called “Crash Pad” and I can assure your readers that more handmade creations are on their way.
Of course, the path to the “Crash Pad” was quite rocky – it is the result of many sleepless nights, useless prototypes and heated debates. But the end result is such that I can’t really add anything or take away from it, the form is complete.
The “Crash Pad” is slowly gaining popularity with the help of “Lik+Neon”, a shop in London’s trendy Brick Lane, and obviously Etsy. Hopefully a lot more cats around the globe will be able to appreciate its handmade qualities, the softness of wool and felt from Yorkshire, England… Good old England…
Etsy Shop: CatsandPods
1. How did you get interested in cats? How old were you when you had your first kitty?
As far back as I can remember there’s always been a cat or two around me. Dogs were always outside, doing their duty, living more in man’s world, depending on him. Cats are completely different, they are independent creatures and no-one can tell them what to do. I think dogs envy them. Our cat does what he wants and I can only do what he asks for. But he always comes back. He probably thinks it’s not too bad here.
2. Please describe your creative process.
At the beginning it’s always an idea of what I might want and then a series of abstract sketches and drawings and then scaled down models to see how initial idea works. It is a long path to the real thing. Usually I use the same palette of materials, so the thinking process is always related to what I can and what I can’t do.
Funnily enough I have a brand new sketch-book that I rarely use; it’s always the back of an envelope or a newspaper that gets filled with doodles. I guess you feel less responsible working this way.
3. How did you discover Etsy? Did you consider other ways to sell your products?
I always thought that a virtual analogue of the art-craft-fare should be in existence, but it is one of the search engines I should be grateful to! To be honest, I didn’t make much of an effort to sell my creations; it was the right time and place I guess.
At the moment Etsy is the alternative way of selling my pod but this is just the beginning. With this kind of product it’s always better to show people what you’ve got, let them feel the weight of the pod and so on. They will gain a much more positive impression from visiting a real shop than a virtual one. But I like challenges and want to find the best possible way to present my stuff on the web.
4. Do you sell your products in a local store in your area?
Yes, currently “Crash Pad” is on sale at the trendy “Lik+Neon” shop in Shoreditch, London. The best bit is that they have four cats in-store, happily wondering around the merchandise without breaking anything. I think this is because they know they can relax in my pod at any time.
5. Have you been successful at selling your products on Etsy? Have you always been successful, or did you end up getting a lot more traffic after being featured on a specific blog?
This is just the beginning of my relationship with Etsy so there’s still a lot of work to be done before any kind of success. But I feel excited with every email or piece of feedback being sent to me because I know I am going in the right direction. I also passionately believe in what I’m doing, so in this respect you can call it a success. One very famous guy once said: “Well, I was working hard for ten years and then one morning I woke up famous”. Success is hard work if you want to do it your way. But you know this, right? Being published on other people’s blogs is immensely important; they give you much needed confidence and most importantly, an audience. So don’t forget to bombard me with your emails after this interview!
6. Do your customers ever give you new ideas for products?
Not the customers but their cats do.
7. Have you thought of featuring a Ragdoll cat is some way? (Had to ask.)
It would be nice to see him in the pod. But I must build a very special one, I’ve heard Ragdoll cats are huge!
8. Are you a one man show?
I am a one man show, with Lucas the cat who acts as a Chairman. He tells me what to do. He is also a very patient listener and when he doesn’t want to do something he just walks away. I wish I had his job! But all this would not happen without support from my friends and family, thanks guys! And some individuals not only dropped their sarcastic remarks, but actually asked if I need any help. Weird isn’t it?
9. Do you have a blog?
Yes, the blog is part of my website and I’m trying to update it regularly with news from my workshop and other relevant stuff. Very useful things, blogs.
10. Do you do custom ordering? Can someone return it if they don’t care for it?
Of course, customers can return an item if it is damaged or broken, I’ll replace it with a new one or return their hard earned cash. But usually they know what they are looking for and I advise them to think twice before buying anything because I manufacture everything myself and in small quantities, I have complete control over the quality of the product and I believe I can offer clients a better service. There have been no returns so far. Currently I’m working on a very special “tree” for two cats in London; it will be a corker when finished! I will send you some pictures later on.
11. 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?
I guess every cats owner knows that every day something interesting happens. It’s great to have them around! Our cat was immortalized by the Google Maps workers when they photographed our street. Lucas asked me once, why they didn’t blur his face, they even blurred all the car number plates, what about his privacy! I told him I would send an angry letter to Google and all responsible individuals will be punished. He seemed satisfied and later on forgot about the whole thing.
Thanks to Moderncat for the find.
Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,