For the better part of four years, Mrs S and I had been either selling stuff online, schlupping to retail stores on sketchy consignment arrangements, or doing craft fairs like Felt Club, originally selling just leather-crafts such as belts, notebook covers, handbags, as well as original cigar box art handbags, and t-shirts that we designed and silk-screened ourselves. But something happened in towards the end of 2006. When we first got married and started our company, Mrs S was originally working for a fashion entrepreneur who fancied himself as an art dealer. Thing about working in the fashion industry is that it more often than not will prove itself to be a toxic work environment and after two years, Mrs S was straight up frustrated to tears. So I says to Mrs S, “Bear, we ain’t broke and we’re nowhere near destitute. I think you should quit that stupid job,” and do you know what happened next???
When Mrs S quit that stupid job, 2 things happened.
- She got her life and personal time schedule back to free her mind from the burden of exchanging her time and energy for money so other people could chase their dreams.
- Right after she quit, 2 scary cholos showed up and pistol whipped the Japanese student who was interning there, absconding with their inventory of clothing and accessories.
When she and I first met, her paintings were terrific and all, but she would sort of default to painting random beautiful women in a way that sort of reminded me of Patrick Nagel, yet was always doodling little bears and would even make cute little bear comic strips. Since the conversations at our home are quite often political in nature, I started noticing that little by little her doodles started including propaganda posters and surveillance cameras everywhere. “I think you’re onto something here,” I told her, “maybe you should explore that further.”
About a month and a half to two months later, this was her first painting.
But it didn’t stop there, because we were already doing craft fairs and art showings. We hustle, you know? During which time, we had various opportunities where we got to do some side outsource vendor gigs for various companies like Planetwide Games, and Paramount Studios, but Mrs S is a constant creative force. She knows her way around a sewing machine and loves to do it. So we picked up a bit of fleece, along with some additional fabrics and threads and before you knew it, these guys came into our world!
The next time we did Felt Club, we sold over $1,200 in bears in about 4 hours. When people saw all of those Bears by Mrs S, each one being entirely one of a kind with it’s own individualized face and no two bears looking alike, it was hard to resist. They were very personal to each individual who came up to our table, saying things like “wow, doesn’t that bear remind you of your uncle Tito?” It was incredible, and rather exciting I might add. Needless to say, the very next week we went downtown to the fabric district and managed to squeeze a whole roll of brown polar fleece into our little Toyota Echo and Mrs S was like a tornado. I swear, it was like nothing I’d ever seen before. I could truthfully say it without exaggeration that Mrs S was like a one-person assembly line, tracing patterns, cutting patterns, sewing patterns, sewing on face-patches, sewing in blank eyes before doing each face individually. Then we (yes, I got to help there but I was useless otherwise) got to stuffing, and believe me when I say to you that we literally raised legions.
But the next time we went to Felt Club, if you slowed the sound of the chirping crickets down, you could feintly hear the theme to the movie, Platoon, accompanied by the torching and fire-in-the-hole bombing of our second time around bear battalion sell-o-rama, leaving us with a a ridiculous number of bears still on our hands. I wouldn’t call it a dream killer or a Lego smasher but a lesson in sales that just because you rocked it once didn’t mean you were going to rock it every single time. After all, it was Felt Club, which most of the attendees had already purchased a bear from us. Some of the sales were return customers, which was nice.