Monday, February 25, 2013

Product Review: Mon-Stors From Lu and Ed

Do you all remember Cody from this post? Of course you do! Are you still curious about these Mon-Stors that you heard so much about? I am about to give you some information that might make you wish you owned one or five.

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In the short breakdown, Mon-Stors are fun options for storage. Boom. I could totally stop there. But I won't. I'm going to tell you more.

Several months ago I got a random tweet from this Cody person telling me about a great alternative to Etsy called Storenvy. And from there we struck up an online friendship which obviously lead me to her shop at Storenvy called Lu and Ed. The first thing that hits you is a super cute little cartoon Mon-Stor that looks just like that little yellow guy in that banner. See right up there? If that's not cute enough imagine that you can actually own something that looks just as adorable.

Interesting side note - that artwork was created from an actual Mon-Stor that was sold in the shop.
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I thought they were really adorable and needed to own some so I ordered two special custom Mon-Stors with special fabric lining. These two guys are now in the Navy and go to the ship with my husband.I personally own two myself and you'll see those in a minute.

Ordering from the Lu and Ed site is an entire experience all it's own. Each Mon-Stor is adorably photographed, named and has a story. The names are pretty original and their stories are hilarious. From your basic ones that love to eat legos and socks to some who's favorite foods are anchovies and ketchup. Ew. From what I know, Cody's super imaginative son helps her with these personas.

Your Mon-Stor will ship pretty quickly. Lu and Ed doesn't list anything as a made-to-order or pre-order so what you see is what you get. And the Mon-Stors are all one-of-a-kind.

From the site you will also learn that Mon-Stors are eco-friendly. How so? Well they are made from upcycled fabrics that have been repurposed from thrift store finds or from fabric swaps that she does with other people. You will also learn that Mon-Stors come in two sizes. There are Big Mon-Stors and Little Mon-Stors.

When they arrived my first thought was, "This is way smaller than I thought it was going to be." But that was because Cody has this adorable method of folding up the Mon-Stors so that they take up as little space as possible. This enables her to re-use the chipboard packaging from boxes of things like Pop-Tarts and TV dinners. She deconstructs the box and flips it inside out so that the brown part of the box is now the outside. So don't be surprised when you see it. Smile and appreciate how someone is doing their part to recycle.

As I opened the box I just see eyes staring up at me. You pretty much have a 50/50 shot of getting this view depending on which end of the box you open. And I take out this lump of fabric. Honestly, that's how it feels when you get it out of the box. It's just compacted that well. And as you start unfolding it out pops solid pairs of arms and legs. It's really like the Mon-Stor is stretching and ready to get down and get to work.

I remember being very impressed with the quality and construction of them. The outside is typically made of fleece. I'm not sure if she's ever used any other material but I have only ever received fleece for the bodies. It's sturdy. And to give it even more creativity as well as stability and durability, it's lined in some fun fabric that helps add to it's personality. They are also affixed with some combination of eyes and fuzzy hair.

The size difference from the big Mon-Stor and the little one are pretty significant. But don't let that diminish you from getting a little one. They're pretty huge all on their own, which should tell you just how enormous a big Mon-Stor is going to be. Big Mon-Stors are approximately 2' tall and 18" wide. Yes, TWO FEET TALL. It looks like an oversized pillowcase with arms and legs. The little guys measure in at around 18" tall and 10" wide. A big Mon-Stor can hold an entire load of laundry or a heck of a lot of toys. In my case, lots of fabric. And the small guy is no slouch and gobbles up more than his share of scraps and miscellaneous pieces to keep handy.

A big Mon-Stor comes with a hole on top of the head. All you do is insert any standard hanger into its head and viola! They hang anywhere you want to put it! I prefer the back of the door but for kids it would work on a doorknob.

This lady was made to match the new color scheme of gray and yellow in my studio.
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The little guys come with a pre-attached strap. You can basically hang this one anywhere that can take a loop of fabric. The strap is even big enough that you can use it in your car on the back of seat as storage for cars and toys for drives around town or for garbage to keep everything neat and tidy. The strap will fit right around your headrest.

Boom! Pow! It's a super hero! Sometimes there are theme Mon-Stors like pirates and mermaids.
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I haven't yet tried to put on in the wash, but based on the feel of their construction and the materials used I think it will wash up just fine in cold water and a low tumble dry.

If you are looking for a creative and cute storage idea I would (and do) definitely recommend the Mon-Stors from Lu and Ed. It's a creative product, with multiple size and color options, good durability and eco-friendly. I don't really know what more you would want from a product. Oh wait! I do. They are also affordable. A big Mon-Stor is going to run between $25-$28 while a little one will be between $16-$18. And while you're there check out the stuffed Monsters as an added bonus.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Shop Pretty: Keepsakes By Katherine

I know some of your are planning weddings or helping someone plan weddings. How do I know? Pinterest tells me.

Hopefully you all remember Katherine from her super interview: here. Well guess what? She's even more awesome than blogging, book reviewing and recipe writing. She also has shops. One of them is Keepsakes By Katherine. As a special occasion boutique she specializes in affordable gifts and accessories. And these days we are all on a budget so getting something beautiful at a great price is just smart.

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Hi Katherine! For anyone who may not have seen you other interview please introduce yourself.
Hello, my name is Katherine and I am the artist and designer at Keepsakes By Katherine. I am happily married to the true keeper of my heart. I am a proud grandmother of five beautiful children. I give an endless supply of unconditional love to my family and friends. I blog at Katherines Corner.

Tell us a little about the beautiful pieces at your shop.
Keepsakes By Katherine has been referred to as the brides good luck charm. I believe that every day is a special occasion. I create for your wedding, your home and your style.

How do you feel that your shop, over others, is a benefit to your customers?
Creating for others brings me joy and every order is treated as if it is the most important one. I keep the buyers budget in mind when creating and provide a stress free purchase.
I have been creating and selling things for over 30 years.

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What do you think are your biggest inspirations for your keepsakes?
When I make something for my shop I think of it as if I were creating a gift for a friend.

Happy customers are my greatest inspiration.
Anything else for the readers?Please use coupon code rainbow for a discount in my shop.

Beautiful items and a discount! I urge you all to check out Keepsakes By Katherine today and find those perfect items for your next special occasion or a gift for someone!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Read Something Great Today: Meet Katherine From Katherine's Corner

One of the great things about the blogging community is that you get to meet some really awesome people. And you get to share in their lives because they blog about everything from crafts, recipes, decorating to reviews on books, music, movies and things on their everyday life. They include pictures. Sometimes of random everyday things and sometimes of what can be considered a pretty intimate look into their lives. There are some blogs where I've seen the writer's children literally grow up from babies and toddlers into beautiful children and teenagers. Some bloggers share their sadness and pain when something tragic happens in their life. And some always keep it up beat. You can always find a mix of reads that will give you the feels or take your mind off of your own crazy world for a while.

I'd like you all to meet one of my February blog sponsors Katherine from Katherine's Corner.

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Katherine writes about a lot. She runs the range of everything on her blog from some yummy recipes like my favorite dessert, carrot cake, many book reviews, to just what is going on with her. It's a great blog and I really enjoy reading it. And unlike some of us....ahem, me....she usually has some sort of update for you almost daily.

So to introduce you to a little more of Katherine's world and how her brain's a great interview.

Hi Katherine! Tell us a little about you.
Hello, I’m Katherine (some call me Katie). I was born in England on Nov 1st 1960 and I have been living in the US on and off for 32 years. I currently live in a state where I can see the beautiful mountains from my kitchen window and a lake from my upstairs bedroom window. I am happily married to a wonderful man, we have five beautiful grandchildren. We also have a sweet fur baby named Izzy he is a wonderful part of our family and we are happy pet parents. I hold a rare dual citizenship with the UK and the USA and I am a proud citizen of both. I am an open minded and spiritual person who strives to always maintain a positive attitude and greet each new day with grace, dignity and gratitude. I am a self-employed artist and designer.

So what goes on over at Katherine's Corner?
At Katherines Corner I share recipes, photography, life stories and much more. You can join in the fun at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop and participate in the monthly giveaways too. I welcome your friendship.

I love my bloggy friends. I hope that Katherines Corner brings a sincere feeling of friendship.

What made you start blogging?
I was inspired to start blogging after I received a rejection letter from a publisher.

It was a nice rejection though, not your standard fill in the blank with the authors name ( I have a few of those too) It read something like this-, “ loved your writing, the photographs are beautiful, but…we are not taking on any unknown authors at this time.”

So Katherines Corner (originally known as Go Ask Katie) was born.I have been blogging for almost three years. Each year is better than the one before.

It's great that you were able to take the rejection letter and work from it and start something positive. How does the creative process of writing work for you?
My blogging style is comfortable, like sharing with a friend. I think it feels natural to want to share what you know and learn.

What is your inspiration to keep writing everyday?
I find joy in sharing with others.

Anything else you'd like to say to the reader?
Thank you for the opportunity to share with your readers!

I hope you will all take the time to pop on over to Katherine's Corner and check out her blog, leave a comment or make one of her yummy dessert recipes. Anyone is welcome to bring the blueberry tarts to my house.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Meet Cute: Cody From Lu & Ed Talks Mon-Stors

I know what you're thinking. What's a Mon-Stor and who's Cody? Well, I'll tell you. Cody is the creator of the most adorable storage solution ever, the Mon-Stor. I'll get into more of the epic awesomeness of Mon-Stors later but for now here's all about Cody in her own words. In the meantime, if you want to check out her shop you can click here: Lu & Ed

Hi Cody! Please introduce yourself to the readers.
I'm Cody! I'm a indie toy storage solution designer and plush maker. I am also a mom, animal rescuer, art business resource blogger, and coffee addict who rarely changes out of my pajamas.

I am sure a lot of us can relate to that. I live in yoga pants. Tell us about what you do.
I make Mon-stors! They are storage solutions for kids in the form of monsters that you 'feed' laundry, toys, books - anything you need extra storage for!

Mon-stors are ecofriendly creations - NO waste from my monsters goes into landfills. I use recycled fabrics from thrift stores to make Mon-stors, and the larger scraps to make smaller Mon-stors, and the smaller pieces from those to make stuffed monsters, and the tiny bits from them I either dice up and blend with polyfil for stuffing, or I stuff dog beds with them to donate to local animal rescues.

{I also use recycled packaging to ship in!}

I personally own several Mon-Stors around my house. (Keep an eye out for an upcoming review post!) How do you feel everyone can benefit from owning their own Mon-Stor?
Everyone needs more storage, and Mon-stors save space as they can be hung in the closet to hold winter scarves, hats, and mittens, or they can hang at the bottom of the steps to collect toys over the day then they can easily be toted upstairs at the end of the day. They are great for toy storage in playrooms, kids rooms, or nurseries, or they can be used to hold laundry in a small bathroom that doesn't have room for a hamper.

The smaller ones are great in cars to hold diapers and wipes, a change of clothes for kids, snacks, maps, DVDs, books, small toys for car rides, a blanket or a ton of other things to keep car clutter under control!  photo Mon-StorBanner_zps4339547b.jpg
I love the idea of hanging one at the bottom of the steps! How did you come up with such a cool idea for storage?
I started making them three years ago when I had first moved from South Carolina to Missouri to be with the love of my life. We were living in his mom's basement and space was tight to say the least. I looked for toy storage solutions for my son but given our small space, we didn't have much wall or floor space to spare. Then one night I was thinking and my artsy brain gave a leap and boom, there it was. This idea that I could make monsters to hang from a door my son could feed his toys to! Long story short, I drew up a pattern and made one, then another, and another. When I posted photos online they were an instant hit. I got so many requests for them that after some thought, I decided to drop my day job and make Mon-stors full time. Thus, Lu & Ed was born. I now offer different sized Mon-stors and also stuffed monsters!

It has to be hard to keep coming up with different designs. Tell us a little how your creative process works.
I am a really inspiration driven creative person - I just create. I don't really have a process for making Mon-stors, I just pair fabrics and when I get a kick of inspiration I kinda let my mind wander while I create. I rarely actually think about what I'm making, I just cut it out, and place face parts and hair, listen to music while I sew, and then boom, a Mon-stor is done and I'm usually really surprised and excited by it because even I don't have an idea what it will look like until it's finished!

Is there anything that inspires you while the Mon-Stors come to life?
My son. He is so funny and always has these crazy ideas. A lot of my monster descriptions are inspired by him and his crazy food combos, his love of video games, books and science and his over all just energetic and colorful personality!

I'm also really inspired by music. I can't really work without music, I get distracted easily without it. I turn up some jams and get lost in the music while I create!

Thanks you so much for taking the time to introduce yourself and your Mon-Stors!
Thank you so much for this wonderful interview! It was so fun! :)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

ABCs of Me

I saw this on Chevrons & Anchors blog and thought it might be fun. I know it's a bit of a blog cliche but everyone loves these things.

A - Age: 36. I know, you're all shocked now.
B - Bed size: Queen. Sometimes I feel like we need a king. Especially when the dogs get up there.
C - Chore you hate: I could do without all of them.
D - Drink of choice: Iced tea. I'm pretty sure my blood is 50% caffeine.
E - Essential start to your day item: Hot tea. Once again, caffeine...
F - Favorite color: Green, orange and right now I am in love with yellow/gray combos.
G - Gold or Silver: Silver.
H - Height: 5'5"
I - Instruments you play(ed): Violin
J - Job: Seamstress of tiny dresses.
K - Kids: 3 fur babies. Molly, Henry and Lola.
L - Living arrangements: In a house with my husband.
M - Mom's name: Jacki
N - Nicknames: Jess, Jessi
O - Overnight hospital stay other than birth: One
P - Pet Peeve: Liars, backstabbers and people who try to Single White Female your life. It's a movie, it will make you never want to have friends again.
Q - Quote from a movie:? "No wire hangers!"
R - Right or left handed: Right.
S - Siblings: 1 brother (younger)
T - Time you wake up: Depends on when I go to sleep.
U - Underwear: Yes, please.
V - Vegetable you dislike: Onions.
W - What makes you run late: Time. It's a real pain.
X - X-rays you've had: Wrist, back, ankle, neck, skull, brain
Y - Yummy food you make: There are many. According to my husband he has to work out or else he'll weigh 500 pounds.
Z - Zoo favorite: Owls! Penguins!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Cody From Lu & Ed Talks About Brand Expansion

Brand Expansion

Hi guys! I am Cody, owner of and creator of Mon-stors, which are eco-friendly toy storage solutions for kids in the form of monsters!

I am honored to be writing this guest post for Jessica. I chose to write this post on my experience with brand expansion and collaborations with other artists. I think as indie designers, we sometimes put ourselves in a bubble, and kind of shut others out of our creative processes. By popping that bubble and inviting other creative minds into your life you may just find a new muse, or even possibly put your heads together with other artists and come up with something entirely new and brilliant!

Last summer, my business got a total facelift by Megean of Megean turned a Mon-stor I had made into a vector image, and he became my mascot. She paired him with fun, bright lettering for my logo and thus, the new face of Lu & Ed was born!

Once I got my final copies of my complete branding package from Megean, I went nuts. I ordered business cards, address labels, magnets, mini business cards, a banner for craft shows, and stickers. I wanted to put my logo on all the things!

And in my quest to put my brand on everything possible, I started thinking about how else I could build my brand representation online and at shows. I wanted to be able to incorporate branding in other ways outside of printed materials and digital images. Insert Project Paint Everything. I have been steadily filling my studio with colorful display pieces for craft shows, all painted using the five colors from my logo! Pictured here is a shutter to hang Mon-stors from, and a shelf for plushes with a monster bunting!

How could I grow my brand online, though? I learned aside from digital images and site design, few people worry about developing their online brand beyond their logo. But I think your brand is about so much more than that. Your brand is an extension of you. It can be reflected in how you talk, how you write, how you photograph your products, how you describe your products, how you engage with others and the work you do within your community. Your brand isn't some two-dimensional thing. It's an entity that should constantly be growing and developing. And as I explored the possibilities of this, I realized I had a really unique opportunity - I could fulfill customer requests for products I don't create, and I could grow my brand at the same time!

In December, I introduced Team Lu & Ed to the public. It is like my brain child. It is an extension of my brand, and it is fueled by my passion to help handmade businesses grow! Essentially, it's like an endorsement program - I chose artists I positively love with great personalities that share my sense of community, whom I have purchased from, to collaborate with because I know their products rock and their service is top quality!

Each collaboration is slightly different, but all incorporate aspects of my branding, whether it's the Mon-stor mascot or just the colors from my logo. We combine that with their unique art forms to create limited edition merchandise that I have had customer requests for that I can't necessarily fill because I don't work in that medium, like purses or bows.

Together, both parties in the collaboration are able to reach a new audience and drive traffic through limited edition merchandise. It's been such a fun experience for me working with Sarah, Cari and Brittany so far! I love helping promote their shops and watching them grow, and I love being able to provide my customers with new product styles they have asked about!

In short, I would highly recommend collaborating with other artists as a way for indie businesses to grow their brand and make new connections, and I hope to see this mentality grow within the handmade community! We have so much to offer one another if we can just pop that bubble we put around our creative processes and start brain storming with other creatives!

And, if you made it all the way to here, I have a little bonus for readers of Jessica's blog! 

I am super excited to announce that Team Lu & Ed has banded together to bring you a totally epic giveaway! Check out the goods!

One small Mon-stor from Lu & Ed
One toddler sized backpack from Echoland

One Mollipops chunky necklace for kids from The Mollie Shop

One mini Valentine's Day sculpture from Little Green Guy (left)

Jessica has been kind enough to guest host this giveaway, so you can enter to win below! 
Good luck!

 You can earn multiple entries by Tweeting the giveaway daily, sharing the giveaway daily on Facebook, or by visiting the sponsors Storenvy shops and 'Envying' one great product a day! (Envying is Storenvy's form of 'liking' a product)
a Rafflecopter giveaway