Studio Life : Process


Gus and Ollie, handmade in Hamburg, Germany. Happy socksThe other day, a friend of mine (an IT expert) said ‘A client of mine recently questioned me charging my minimum 50€ for one hour, because he saw it only took me a few minutes to fix a bug on his website. So I explained, that 1 hour was the minimum charge, because even though it only took me a few minutes….it actually took a university degree + 15 years experience + those few minutes, to be able to fix those bugs effectively and efficiently.’

Which got me thinking, putting a price on one’s process, journey or experience is really difficult.

When I meet people for the first time and they ask me what I do, I am usually asked the following questions in quick succession:

  • How did you start making these toys?
  • How much do you sell them for?
  • How long does it take to make one?

I have the spiel down pat…

Toys were always something I wanted to do, but never had the time to invest in, when I was in Melbourne. That moving to Germany meant I could work full time on my art – which gave me the much needed time and space to experiment.

That they start at 25€ and go up to 50€, but I also have some cheaper options for 10€-15€.

Then I am usually very quick to jump to the fact that the very first monkey took many hours to complete and ended up looking like a Monkey-version of Elephant Man (I should probably frame it!). But that I now have my process down, I can make one in less than a couple of hours – if I need to. Start to finish (including packaging).

Thing is – that’s not how I make them, which is why this question is really hard to answer.

  • I usually spend time choosing a bunch of socks for the next ‘batch’….including any custom orders.
  • They are then cut to form, ready for the machine sewing to be done.
  • I will then machine sew a bunch of new friends all at once, in preparation for stuffing and hand sewing.
  • Eyes and complementary embroidery thread is then chosen.
  • Then, because I take them home to hand sew in the evenings, I snap a shot of the socks + eyes + thread together on my smartphone, so when I’m home and open my sewing box, I have a visual reference of what I previously chose at the studio (what did we do before smartphones?).

By this stage, I can already see what they will look like finished!

Gus and Ollie, handmade in Hamburg, Germany
BEFORE: Visual reference for hand sewing.

But just so you can see, here are their finished shots….

Gus and Ollie, handmade in Hamburg, Germany
AFTER: the finished products!

When one starts producing something they have created – completely from scratch – the hours put into designing the unique product, the trials & errors with materials, stitches & finishing is probably immeasurable. Then after a few days. months or years – this knowledge is neatly rolled into a productive ball, to the point where the music is on and you don’t have to think about it anymore. All the supplies are at your finger tips and you can enjoy the process of combining colours & making new designs, which to me is the best part.

Gus and Ollie, handmade in Hamburg, Germany. Happy socksGus and Ollie, handmade in Hamburg, Germany. Happy socksGus and Ollie, handmade in Hamburg, Germany. Happy socks

I have always said, no day in the studio is the same as the last – which is why I love my job. Which is why, to date, I have made over 700 monkies alone and still don’t find monkey-making boring. Although I love what I have made once it’s finished – they never cease to put a smile on my face – it’s the process that keeps me going. Maybe one day I’ll write tutorials or run classes, but for now – it’s just me, a few 1000 socks, some colourful eyes & thread – hanging out together in my little studio – making a family.



8 thoughts on “Studio Life : Process

  1. This is fantastic (as are your toys, they’re so cute!). My boyfriend and I often talk about how one day we hope to make a living from ‘what we know” instead of ‘what we do’. I think its easy as a consumer to forget just how much time and effort has gone into the production of something. I loved reading about your process too and I’m glad you’ve found your ‘sweet spot’ with monkey making!

    1. Thank you so much Laura for your sweet words and encouragement! It’s a real dilemma whether to take that risk or not – and then putting a price on your knowledge is even harder. I hope you and your Hubby can make the jump one day – it will change your life!

  2. As a fellow entrepreneur, I understand this kind of questioning from other people as well as ourselves. It’s tough to get past the “money mindset” we may have developed over time but whatever we charge is SO WORTH IT because we are working super hard… even if it’s a labor of love. I love this post! (And your adorable sock lovies!)

    1. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement Tiana! It’s so sad you’re not closer to Hamburg, as I know we’d hang out often…and yes, you’re right! All the hard work we put in, whether finically rewarded or not – is so worth it!

  3. These are amazing and so much fun! You are so right in all that you say about the process – I used to make fashion accessories to sell online and at craft fairs, and you always feel like you need to justify your prices when someone says, ‘you could probably make one in a night’ – yes I could – but I never did that (or rarely) because as a designer/maker you create a mini production line and choose the colours and materials at each stage. Keep on doing what you’re doing and bringing colour to people’s lives 🙂

    1. Rebecca, you are so right! Thank you so much for visiting and for taking the time to stop to give me a little pat on my back 😉 As creatives, we all need this sometimes – and yes – I just love the “I could make that myself” or “Gee, it doesn’t take you that long to make, does it?’ comments….fact is, it does and will continue to. But it’s a labor of love, which makes the world a better place xx

  4. Hi Jessica, great taking stock post. I am from the may blog with pip group. I haven’t done my taking stock post yet, hoping to do it soon. Your sock toys are so cute. They all look like they have their own personalities. Your blog is lovely. I have enjoyed looking at your photos x

    1. Hi there Simone! Thank you for your comments and emails….and now problem – sometimes things in this online world get mixed up – but no worries. So nice of you stop by. Am heading to your blog now – thanks for the email!

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