I'm so excited about this new interview series, inspired by a post I wrote last year where I featured some of my favourite designer-makers who share beautiful photos of their work and pets on their instagram feeds. For the second Crafty Critters interview I chatted to my pal Jo from Hello Sunshine all about her bright little business and her beautiful cats Princess Pegs & Toby Cat. All photographs are taken from Jo's instagram.
How long has Hello Sunshine been going and what did you do before?
I’ve been tinkering around with Hello Sunshine for about 5 years now but it was only a couple of years ago I started to focus and grow it into a proper business.
I used to work at Boots HQ in Nottingham where I had several roles ranging from merchandising and web design until my last (and most favourite) role as assistant brand manager on the Christmas Team. I used to create annual trend reports and help design lots of different Christmas ranges. I worked with the nicest people and had the best time there.
After a year of part time Boots and part time Sunshine though, I made the hardest decision last May and I took the plunge and left Boots to pursue Hello Sunshine full time. I haven’t looked back since!
Where did you get Princess Pegs and Toby Cat?
I’ve had Pegs and Toby since they were teeny tiny, and my goodness they were teeny tiny! A friend of mine had a cat who they thought was a a boy until ‘he’ had kittens! I had always dreamed of having cats and I wanted a dark one and a tabby. When I saw the litter of kittens, there was tiny, black Toby Cat curled up snoozing with his little white tip on his tail and little tabby Pegs came bumbling over with a matching white tip on her tail. Right there and then I just knew I had found my snuggle buddies and couldn’t wait to take them home to Sunshine Towers!
What are their personalities like? Do they get on with each other?
Pegs quickly adopted the name Princess Pegs once she has settled in to her new home. She is such a pretty little thing and boy does she know it! Pegs is a proper little poser and always looks so regal when she’s sat watching me work. Oh and not forgetting the fact she only seems to want to drink water out of a glass… a bowl just isn’t good enough for a Princess! Pegs loves a cuddle, the sunshine and cheese (not sure where she gets that from!)
Toby is a bloody tinker but the biggest fuss pot I’ve ever known. As a kitten he used to sit on my shoulder but as he got bigger it became a bit harder for him to balance and I got neck ache! Toby is definitely the trouble maker and never fails to bop us on the nose (or dive off the dresser on to us) in the morning to let us know it’s breakfast time. Although I’m convinced he’s instructed to do it by Pegs as she sits at the end of the bed watching this mischief unfold! He’s a vocal little soul and has the LOUDEST purr which I think is the best sound in the world.
They are brother and sister and although they fight and and tear through the house a lot they still curl up together for the odd nap. I like to think they are best friends but I’m sure Pegs would tell you otherwise when Toby is tormenting her!
What was your first pet?
Our first pet was a bunny rabbit called Benjamin from a local city farm, he was black and a feisty one. Benjamin didn't stay long (he escaped) but I'm sure he's out there having fun with all the other bunnies 'on his jollidays’. We had a few pets when I was little including another rabbit (Tango), a guinea pig (Molly), gerbils (Pepsi and Max), goldfish (Sharky and George) and rats (CK and Asterix). We also had cats for a short while who were called Carbonel and Calico but we had to give them to someone else in the end because they made my Mum poorly. I would have had a zoo when I was little if I could have!
Who are some of your fave insta-famous pets?
Ooh so many to choose from! I’m a big fan of Remi the frenchie who belongs to Holly Booth, I love Origami-Est’s bunny snaps, Tammy the Persian is a beaut, who belongs to the very lovely Claireabellemakes, Bruno the mini dachshund and PupTart’s Indy make me want a dog more than ever and Hello Harriet’s two kitties, Meeko & Yoshi are just the most beautiful cats ever (don’t tell Toby & Pegs I said that though!)
How have Toby and Pegs inspired your business?
Not only do they keep smiles and cuddles coming throughout the day, Toby and Pegs inspired me to create jewellery ranges and many a Sunshine doodle of them. I made some little black cats first and they proved to be a popular addition to my jewellery but I couldn’t create a range for Toby without one for Pegs too so the Tabby cat jewellery followed. Both are by far my most popular ranges and I LOVE that so many people can relate to them with their own tabby and black cats. I get to hear so many lovely stories about other peoples pets when orders are placed or I share photos and it’s the BEST - Yay for other crazy cat ladies!
What do you like and dislike most about working from home?
I LOVE being in my happy place (my studio) at home, it’s a big bright room full of all of my favourite things and with the kitchen just downstairs a brew is never far away. I am lucky enough to live near the river in Cambridge too, so lunch breaks on sunny days are a real treat and if I ever fancy something naughty for lunch I’m only a short bike ride away from town.
However, as I’m sure a lot of people who work from home will agree, it can get quite lonely and spending too much time alone with my thoughts can take its toll. It’s important for me to get out, chat to people and engage with others (in real life and online) to make it through the days and it took me a while to realise this. Toby and Pegs play such an important part in my daily life - they provide entertainment, love and ‘conversation’ when I need it (and if my other half isn’t available). I probably talk to the cats and myself more than I should!
What are you excited about at Hello Sunshine this year?
For anyone who knows me, I’m quite an excitable person in general so it doesn’t take much but I’m especially excited about going to my first Blogtacular in June. I need to make more out of my Blog so I can’t wait to learn more, catch up with creative friends and meet more people I currently instastalk! I’m also VERY excited about a couple of limited edition jewellery ranges I have planned as well as a new mini collection for Christmas, which I’ve been working on since last October! Eek! Christmas, my favourite!
Thanks to Jo, Pegs and Toby! You can follow their exploits over on instagram and find out more or treat yourself to something fun on Jo's website. Jo has recently released a sweet little kitties pin set inspired by Toby and Pegs!
If you enjoyed this interview you might want to catch up on the first post, in which I interviewed Hannah from Pup Tart all about her amazing range of products and her super cute dog Indy. Next month I'll be chatting to the proud owner of a mini dachsund - OMG! Let me know if there's anyone in particular you'd like to see in this series by tagging me in on instagram @zabbyallen, I'd love to see some more accounts full of my two favourite things: animals and design!