If you’ve seen Issue 50 of ‘Mollie Makes‘, this little chappy might look familiar. Designed by Michelle Galletta of Kiriki Press, he’s as smart as he is cute as what he actually wants to do is teach you all about embroidery. Sadly, he doesn’t have his own YouTube channel but he does come all neatly packaged up with clear instructions on how to create the different stitches that make him so special. I met Michelle at the New York Renegade Craft Fair to talk about why she favours creating DIY kits over ready made dolls, how word of mouth helped Kiriki Press flourish and the next embroidery step.
Hi! Please can you introduce yourself and Kiriki Press?
My name’s Michelle, I’m a print-maker and Kiriki Press is my business. I make embroidery kits, I screen print everything out of my home studio in Toronto. I started making little dolls for my nieces when they were a bit younger and everyone told me they had a little something to them, so I decided to use my training in print-making to try to make a business out of it. I started out with seven different patterns and it’s grown to twelve now. I’ve been doing it about two years.
Why did you decided to create DIY kits instead of simply selling ready-made dolls?
I guess the main intention was to give other people the opportunity to make something really special with their own hands. I love the whole ‘do it yourself’ thing, so much of what we have is digital and automated so it’s really nice to be able to take a step back, relax with something and have your own time to put a project together. I just wanted to come up with bright, little, not too intimidating designs so that people could approach it slowly and get into embroidery. I’m hoping to get people in my generation into embroidery.
You have very cute woodland animals! Where do you look for inspiration? Are there any blogs or magazines?
I’m pretty active on Pinterest, especially for surface pattern inspiration. A lot of it comes from just having the hoop in front of me. I’ll start with a real picture of whatever animal I wanna make, kind of stylise it and the stitches themselves just kind of come to me as I’m planning out the embroidery.
So do you run Kiriki Press full-time?
I do. It amazingly started right off the bat. I moved back in with my mother for a year while I put everything together. The whole thing came to me in one of those eureka moments. I always knew that I wanted to do something that was really affordable, small and that I could travel with. I just thought it was going to be a part-time gig while I was looking for a job in the print making industry. I worked at a couple of print-making studios in the years before doing this and I was just waiting for the next gig to arrive. So I took about a year off to come up with all of the kits and my first show in Toronto that I did I had a few retailers approach me and then I took a bit more time to put everything together, figure out the mass production of the kit. By that point, I guess through word of mouth and stuff, I had a few more stockists and it just snowballed from there.
What exciting things are coming up in Kiriki Press’ future?
I’m coming out with a line of embroidered pendant kits which I think will be really good. There are people who are still a little intimidated by the kits so a jewellery thing would be perfect as it’s an even smaller sampler and you can wear it and show it off! The kits now are for ages 12 years and up and I’m also trying to come out with kits for ages 6 – 12 years.
That’s so awesome! I work with kids a lot and they just love anything craftsy or artsy. Thank you so much for your time Michelle.
Do you like the process of buying a kit and learning a skill for yourself?