My name is Éva and I am the owner and creator of BHB Kidstyle — “the mask and tail shop,” as my customers sometimes call it. My husband and I currently live in our adopted country, Portugal, with our children.
Dressing-up accessories are great toys to encourage imaginative play at any age, but my experience with young children is that they don’t really like dressing and undressing very often, even if it is for fun. That is why I make mask and tail sets rather than full costumes: they are easy to put on and easy to take off. They can be worn with everyday clothes at home or to play in the park. They can be even be worn while having a little snack, because my masks leave the mouth and nose free.
Some of the mask designs come easy to me, but others turn round in my head for a long time before I make the first sketches. Once I am happy with the final sketch, I make the templates for the mask and for the facial features of the animal. I use a pair of scissors to cutting the wool-blend felt and use my sewing machine to put them together.
One day when I was fighting with plastic bags (which were literally flowing out of my kitchen drawer), I had a brainstorm. I cut some of them up and stuffed a fox tail to see if they would make good filling. My friend’s little son test-drove the prototype tail and judged it to be fit to wear. Since then I stuff the tails with clean, cut-up repurposed plastic bags. This not only makes my tails eco-friendly, it keeps my home (and the homes of my friends) plastic bag free.
Custom orders have made a big difference to my business. I got a request for a parrot mask and wing set. It was a challenge, but I did it and ended up with a happy customer and a new product line in my shop. I had another custom order to make a ballerina mask. When I pointed out that it was not really in my line and there might be other shops more suitable for the job, my customer responded that she knew my work and wanted me to do it. After I sent her pictures of the prototype, she ordered 70 for a birthday party. Since then I never say no, unless I try and fail. For example, I find it impossible to make a crocodile mask which leaves the mouth and nose area open — that also looks like a crocodile, and not a snake.
Etsy allows me to have the same full-time job regardless of the country I live in, which feels very liberating. Having my little business has taught me to look at my products with other people’s eyes. It has also taught me that believing in my product is not enough if there isn’t a market for it. I am able to stand up when I fail, find something that the market needs, and know that I can make it with passion.