Tell us a bit about yourself (name, location, affiliations, personal stuff).
1Girl 1Boy is me Stacy Monakey & my husband Mark Lyon; he’s the silent partner of our little venture. I’m 34, wow it looks scary in print, but in my head I’m more like 13 with feathered hair, purple tinted glasses, and braces. We both graduate from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, PA in 1995 with degrees in painting. Back then I used to make gigantic 8 and 10 foot paintings of barbies, Vegas showgirls, and scandalous women all dripping in gold spray paint, glitter & cheap latex. I was on my way to grad school at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago when I got cold feet & started questioning what the hell I was doing. After working through10 years of post art school angst I am now living a life that would have seemed like a nightmare to me back in art school and I have never been happier. I am married, live in the suburbs of Philly, drive a Volvo station wagon, have 2 kids, I am a stay at home mom and have traded in my 10’ canvases for tiny little kid t-shirts.
What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?
My Mom is very crafty. She always had a ton of cool ‘70’s craft books that we, my sister, brother & I, would pull off the book shelves on rainy days. We would pick a craft, paper mache, sock puppets, that super salty homemade play dough and we would get crafty with Mom. She really got me into crafts and the idea of making stuff. The thing I can remember making most were key chains out of tumbled rocks. I asked for a rock tumbler for Christmas one year, how totally geeky. It drove my family nuts hearing those rocks tumble around. To the joy of my family, I soon found using tumbled rocks in crafts to be a bit limiting. I mean how many shinny rock key chains can one make and use before you’re totally bored. Those rocks were pretty though…
What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?
If I were asked this question before having kids the answer would be so different, they have changed everything. I know its clichéd, but they make me look at the world through their eyes and it’s like seeing everything for the first time. That inspires me. They force me to slow down & look at the minute detail of things. It’s like looking at the world under a microscope. I used to just plow through the day, now if I go for a walk with my kids I’m being stopped every two seconds to checkout a bug, a flying bird, a pretty leaf. It’s a beautiful gift.
What are your favorite materials?
Right now I’m totally obsessed with faux suede, ultra suede. I use it for my appliqués. I have always wanted to use it for something, but its crazy expensive so it’s perfect for little patches. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that it was so nice to print on. My second obsession is with Procion Fiber Reactive dyes. I have a love hate, but mostly love relationship with dyeing. I am such a freak when it comes to color that I choose to dye all our t-shirts rather then purchase them pre-dyed .I spend weeks & weeks and dye yards & yards of test fabric to get the perfect shade. All or shirts are dyed using my own recipes, so it’s always a little more of this a little less of that till it feels right. Check out our shop profile or our website, www.1girl1boy.com, for more information about our dyeing & printing process.
What is your favorite color?
Pink. It’s a color that comes with its own psychological baggage.
What are your three favorite films?
Yikes, this is hard. I was going to give you 3 genres of film, but my husband said it was a cop out. Here it goes,
Saturday Night & Sunday Morning, Karel Reisz 1960. One of the best of the British New Wave
The Umbrella’s of Cherbourg, Jacques Demy 1964. What a beautiful movie. If you haven’t seen it don’t let the fact that all the dialogue is sung turn you off, it’s in French which makes everything sound better and Catherine Deneuve is stunning.
Breathless, Jean-Luc Godard 1959. Oh don’t you just love Jean Seberg and Belmondo.
What is your favorite book?
Well my day starts at about 6:00 or 7:00 am, I am Mom till about 8:00 pm, after getting the kids to bed I down some coffee and get to work in my studio. I don’t have much time for reading, but I do read tons & tons of children’s books. My favorite is “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats. He is a brilliant colorist and I never get tried of reading it to my children.
Any tips on selling handmade stuff?
My husband and I have been at this for a while, the dream of a little business all our own. We have made furniture, I’ve made messenger bags and we have had a thousand ideas that remained just that, ideas. What I’ve learned is to first think about what kind of market you want to reach and tailor a product using your aesthetics and point of view to reach that market. I started out with kid shirts. They are small, easy to pack and ship, everyone either knows someone with a kid or has one, and people seem to like to spend a little extra on something special for a baby or child. I also had a back up plan. If I totally failed I would have a ton of shirts for our kid’s to wear. Luckily it hasn’t come to that, my kids are still kickin’ around in thrift store finds while all the shirts we make are finding happy homes on the backs of other children . We have gotten such a great response to our kid shirts that we have started making shirts for big kids and women. We also have plans to start doing prints on stretched linen.
Another thing to consider is do you like what you’re doing and I don’t mean the fun creative part, but can you stand the tedious boring sweatshop parts of what you do. When I was making bags I enjoyed making patterns, choosing fabrics, silk-screening our logo, but I dreaded sitting down at my sewing machine to sew the bags up. This venture was doomed. You got to love, like or at least tolerate all aspects of what you do or it is really hard to motivate yourself to work.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Well I live a very boring domestic sort of life. My husband and I always say we have turned from hipsters to hippies. We heat our home in the winter with wood, use cloth diapers on our kids, I make bread & bake pies. Our idea of a romantic night is when we can get someone to watch the kiddies and we hit the town for bulk trash night. Oh the joys of garbage picking. When our kids are teenagers, how we will embarrass them.
How can Etsy be improved? Any feature requests?
You guys are doing such a great job! I sat in on the town meeting and it sounds like you have thought of everything for V2. Thanks!