A couple weeks ago I came across Child’s Own Studio, as featured in Today’s Parent May 2012 issue, and was charmed by the idea of creating a custom soft toy based on a child’s drawing. What better way to encourage a child’s imagination and let their creativity bloom than for a child to see their drawing come alive? Oh how I wished I could be little again and request my own personalized stuffy!
Wendy Tsao, momprenuer and the creator of Child’s Own Studio came up with the idea of making “a recognizable comfort toy for a 4 year-old boy based on his drawing.” Since then, she has hand crafted hundreds of these custom toys, one by one, and has created a business that she describes, “celebrates children’s art and their imagination with every handcrafted one-of-a-kind soft toy.”
Stork Craft is thrilled to feature fellow “Vancouverite”, Wendy, as Stork Craft’s Mom of the Week and have her give us a glimpse into her life as a stay at home mom, as well as her studio where these wonderful toys are created.
-Name (Surname optional): Wendy Tsao
-Children/Child’s age: 9 yr old son
-Location: Vancouver, BC
-Occupation: Stay at home mom/creator of Child’s Own Studio
~Wendy and her son
The Low Down:
SC: What has been the biggest surprise about motherhood since you have become a mom?
Wendy: When I was pregnant, I remember discussing with my husband what I’d be doing with all the free time I’d have while the baby was sleeping. Ha! It turns out that not all babies sleep all the time. Instead, my son nursed All The Time. I remember having very little “free” time.
SC: How has your life changed since you became a mom?
Wendy: I’m a bit more cautious about everything. As a kid, I was such a tomboy monkey, always wanting to climb trees and seek out thrills, much to my mother’s exasperation.
The other day, at an amusement park, I went on a ride with my son, and I thought I was going to throw up after. Is this nature’s way of preserving mothers and making them more responsible, I wonder?
SC: What has been the biggest challenge for you in motherhood?
Wendy: Finding the time for myself and not feeling guilty about it. Also, learning to step back so that my son can figure things out on his own – I was so close to becoming a helicopter mom.
SC: How do you (or plan to) manage your work life balance?
Wendy: I had to wait until my son was school age, before I was able to focus on my own goals. Now I work while he’s at school. There was a stretch before Christmas, when I had a lot of orders to tackle and I was basically in my studio all day for a month. But I had prepared my family, explaining that I was going to be very busy for a few weeks. After, I sat back and realized that I really didn’t have to work like that. I could (and did) decide my own pace of work and life.
SC: Any advice for moms-to-be or new moms?
Wendy: I remember times when I felt isolated and overwhelmed. Even if you can’t manage to get together with friends, you can stay connected with social media. Try to see funniness in stressful child rearing times – there are lots of mommy blogs that poke fun at the day to day incidences that can seem so frustrating – read them and laugh.
SC: Do you have any recommendations on any baby products that you can’t live without and that every mother should also have?
Wendy: There are so many products out there now – the industry has really grown, and I think I am officially out of touch. I remember that a baby carrier was a must-have ( see how out of touch I am?).
~Here’s where the magic (and a lot of hard work) happens! Wendy’s studio.
More about Child’s Own Studio:
SC: We love what you have come up with for Child’s Own Studio: “…make a recognizable comfort toy for a [child] based on [his/her] drawing”! What is the process that you go through to translate a 2D image into a 3D plush toy? Are there certain techniques that you stick to or is it inspired differently by how you feel and materials each time?
Wendy: Sometimes the drawings come with the young artist’s notes which I follow. Otherwise, I look at the drawing and see what details are the most appealing, and make sure to highlight them. Every project is unique and I respond to each one differently. I have no rules nor formulaic approach. I do tend to favour some fabrics, but I can also try something “different” occasionally. It’s hard to explain how I make these soft toys, because I’m not consciously thinking about the process. I just “do it” and if it doesn’t look right, I will modify or fix it or even, start over.
~Hope Peacemaker by Olivia, age 8
SC: Any projects so far that are particularly memorable or stand out to you as a favourites?
Wendy: I don’t have a particular favourite project or memory, because as soon as a project is done, it’s done. I send the softie off to the child, where (I like to imagine) they are busy in their world of play. I then start working on the next one. What’s really neat is checking my Flickr photostream to see which projects get favourited by visitors.
SC: What is the biggest challenge in the whole process of making one of the toys?
Wendy: The biggest challenge is staying true to the child’s drawing while making the toy solid and durable for a child’s play. Both aspects are equally important, but the latter takes precedence.
~Scary the Dinosaur by Oliver, age 5
~Polly Peanut Butter Bee by Joel
-My guilty pleasure is… eating out AND ordering a dessert.
-My biggest influence as a mother is… giving hugs and support when my son is feeling down.
-My favourite beauty buy is… getting my hair done – I found this hairdresser who does a fantastic scalp massage when she washes my hair, that I practically fall asleep.
-If I was stranded on a deserted island, I would need to at least have… wait, are we assuming that I know how to survive on a deserted island? If not, then I would need to have a book called How To Survive On A Deserted Island.
-Favourite restaurant: the little Chinese diner down the street.
-Favourite place to take my child/children to: anywhere we haven’t been to before. We really enjoy exploring new places.
-Top children’s store: You mean after Stork Craft? IKEA (One of my son’s first words)
~ By Jayme, age 5