this month we're so excited to feature fluffyco on the blog as our june love it! we've been carrying san francisco-based fluffy for a few years now, and it's been neato to watch the line expand and branch out in new directions. the fluffyco booth is always one of my favorites at the new york gift show because i know there will be awesome new goodies to scoop up! we started out featuring their range of screenprinted naugahyde wallets, checkbooks, and ipod cases. we love all of their animals and nature-inspired designs, and they're made even better by fluffyco's commitment to keeping their production as local as possible and using earth-friendly materials. here are a few of our favorite mini wallets, perfect for guys or girls. all of us o'suz girls have at least one.since we moved to our new space in august, we also started carrying fluffyco's tshirts for the ladies. we can't keep this snazzy owlie shirt in the shop:and these are two new ones we got in april:also back in april we ordered a few of these amazing belts. they are handmade in oklahoma city, and each one is distressed differently. since we are lovers of all things owl, we snagged the owls and another one with a forest silhouette.last but not least, we love us some little fluffy for little ones. we're waiting for red to grow into his already substantial collection of little fluffy tshirts, stay tuned for future cuteness on that front. and who doesn't want to sport the teddybear picnic? we have it in yellow and gray in the shop -- i only wish it came in my size!now, onto the good stuff. fluffyco founder paulina berczynski answered our probing questions and sent us lots of awesome photos, including the portrait below, which was titled 'evil twin'! thanks, paulina, for giving us this sneak peek into the world of fluffyco!
what was your first job and how did you end up working in design for accessories and home goodies?
My first job was working at Sbarro pizza as a cashier when I was 14. Actually I was 12 and they fired me because I was underage. At 14 I got a very similar job at Sizzler.
I had always loved drawing and the visual arts, and discovered Andy Warhol in high school, when I was a total art nerd and would spend lunch checking out different art and artists in the library every day. I am one of those lucky people who always pretty much knew what I was into. I applied to this super hardcore university on the East Coast (Carnegie Mellon) for both Fine Art and Design. My mom, who has always been totally comfortable opening my mail, let me know I got into both and asked which direction I wanted to go, and I decided right then to go for design so I could make a living.
I realized at school that A. I never wanted a corporate job and B. that I had a serious problem with being told what to do- which basically means, start your own business. I did freelance design work for over 7 years, interspersed with stints in advertising. I worked on some amazing projects (Puma, Thrasher Magazine, and Lucky Strike were highlights), but I always burned out- I knew I wanted to do my own designs, on my terms.
So I ended up moving to Seattle where my best friend was living, to start a housewares business together, called TruckStop Ink. We both put in $50 to start and began by making wooden magnets and wall art using transfer printing, selling them at craft fairs, then in local stores. We taught ourselves how to screen-print in the kitchen and the business was pretty steady, but we both kept our day jobs. The first time we came back from a fair with $300 we were flipping out. When we brought home $1000, we could barely believe it.
Long story short, about a year into it I decided to go out on my own. I was working in advertising at the time, and managed to save up close to $60K to start my own gig. I moved back to San Francisco, where I had lived years before and always knew I would come back to forever, and started FluffyCo in late 2004.
trees billfold from fluffyco's new(ish) eco canvas group
what is your favorite piece/group/series in your work?
I think each new season is the best, so my favorites are always changing. Right now, I am seriously loving the Premium Tee line (especially the Gators), and the eco wallets. I have a wood one and it’s pretty great. I’m also cooking up a ton of new housewares stuff for Fall 09 and Spring 10, so I’m pretty preoccupied with all those ideas. (ed. note: egad, we can't wait to see!)
who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by San Francisco’s vibrant youth and music culture, street art from all over the world, and what other indie designers are doing most of all. That and the urge to run the business with a sustainable, low-key approach– FluffyCo uses American manufacturing whenever possible, to keep our local communities strong. That’s a big one over here.
one of paulina's new poster designs, which she plans to post guerrilla style in europe
what three websites do you visit daily?
describe your ideal sunday.
Right now I’m doing some more art-nerd stuff in Poland, so I can’t live without my Facebook. Other than that, I do an insane amount of train-of-thought web searches. Today I was checking out sustainable messenger bags at Reload and Freitag, sourcing US makers of truck tarp scraps and recycled vinyl, clicking around different screen printers’ poster sites, and trying to find vintage European toy posters like the Moomins, Babar the elephant and Barbapapa all over the place. Yesterday it was mirrors, organic fabrics, fashion designers and cold rolled steel.
Wake up really late, brush teeth and get back into bed. Daydream in bed with my husband for like an hour, eventually convince him to make me an omelet. Do something active outside (ideally with or near plants), spend time relaxing with friends, eat something delicious for dinner and watch a movie at home or go out to a show.
a view into the fluffyco studio
what do you see outside your studio windows?
A cool old brick building, a leafy tree, the SF landmark Twin Peaks, plus (extra bonus) some sky.