Thank you for joining us on Pink Wonderland today, Cheri and Alvin! Can you please tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Hi! My name is Cheri Ong - I’m the mastermind, creative artist and designer for Furry Feline Creatives. I’m also a drummer and a avid fan of analogue photography. And I’m Alvin Ong - I write the stories for the characters, run the business side of Furry Feline Creatives, play guitar, and love everything geek.
Tell us about Furry Feline Creatives, how you started it, and the concept behind your business.
Furry Feline Creatives is a character design studio founded by Cheri Ong and Alvin Ong. Cheri had been drawing all her life. She made a career and profession out of it, doodling all the way since elementary school, drawing characters based on her friends and people she knew. We started off by doing a couple of t-shirt designs and selling some artwork at various venues until one day, we were chatting among ourselves as we were looking at our kids playing. We said to ourselves, “What can we do to teach them at this very young age that they would remember and keep until they grow up?”. Being fans of popular culture and geekdom, we wanted to do something that we ourselves could enjoy, share, and bond with the kids. The idea of creating handmade plush toys came to mind along with a message or a story that reaches a wide spectrum of children to adults. Like the dolls, there is a uniqueness in all of us that has to be seen and heard. We are made special and distinct from each other.
Cheri, I believe you started making plushies for the shop without any prior experience with it. How did you learn how to make them?
Sewing was the last thing I wanted to do, but I gave it a try. I watched YouTube a couple of times for the basic sewing patterns and Alvin was like, "Why don't you make the plushies like you draw them?" Since then, it has become an expression of my hands and to reveal what is on my mind.
How do you incorporate those concepts into your children’s lives?
We emphasize individuality. Just like the dolls, each doll features slight variations that enhance the dolls’ uniqueness. As young as they are, we teach our kids to be confident and embrace their differences. We also let them play with our toy collection... with supervision, of course!
Where or how do you usually find inspiration for your cute and colorful characters?
Everyday life brings is a lot of inspiration to our work. We meet all sorts of people from different walks of life. These usually brings us ideas in the way we create our characters.
Does your location inspire you in any way?
Yes - we are huge fans of pop culture and living in the City of Angels, Hollywood, with all its glitz and glamour. It's not too far away from San Diego, which hosts Comic Con International, the largest pop culture mecca in the world. We love it here.
Who are your favorite artists?
Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, and Simone Legno.
What do you like to do when you are not working?
We are both musicians. Alvin plays the guitar and Cheri plays the drums. You would usually see us playing some tunes. We also take special time every week to go to department stores and browse around the toy section and see what the big companies are doing now.
What is it like working with your significant other?
Working together with your spouse is very rewarding because you get to work on something that involves love, patience, and understanding. You give and take ideas, and offer honest opinions and suggestions. It is the best team possible.
Are there any major events or experiences in your life that affected your work or business?
The birth of our two kids really prompted us to think about our work. It gave us direction for what we wanted to do and why we are doing it.
Tell us about your creative process and workspace.
We look for ideas in everyday life, drawing doodles on sketchbooks. Our workspace is by the window, literally, which gives us inspiration.
What advice would you offer an aspiring artist or someone who wants to start a small business?
We always tell people three things that we go by - not just in art or business, but in life in general.
1. Love what you do, no matter what other people say about it. If you believe you were put in this earth to do what you need to do, go do it.
2. Real failure happens when you don’t start.
3. Have the attitude that you will never arrive, but are always arriving.
Furry Feline Creatives was a vendor this year at the San Diego ComicCon and earlier this month at the New York ComicCon – how exciting! The winter craft fair season is coming up… any advice for small business owners who are preparing for craft fairs?
Be sure to keep yourself warm! haha. But seriously, be prepared to work not just on your products, but also the look of your booth as well. If someone passes by the aisle, you want to get their attention for them to come in. Another is: be approachable. Greet and smile. The last thing you want people to perceive is that you just don’t care.
Are you working on any projects or pieces that you are excited about?
We are always working on exclusives that we are doing for comic conventions all throughout the year and are constantly working on various projects, some of which are top secret for now.
Tell us if there are any events you have lined up where we can find you and your artwork in person.
- Designer Con || November 3rd, from 9am to 6pm, at Pasadena Convention Center.
- Renegade Craft Fair Los Angeles || December 8 & 9, from 10am to 5pm, at the Los Angeles Historic Park.
And many more! For our full schedule, please check our events calendar.
Thank you so much for sharing your stories and advice with us on Pink Wonderland, Cheri and Alvin!
You can find Furry Feline Creatives at these places: