Cincinnati, OH

Abby Landon, abbydid

Abby Langdon is the sole proprietor of abbydid, a plush toy and character accessory company. Her fun, funky monsters and other creations are available exclusively at Fabricate in Northside and the Broadhope Art Collective in Westwood.

How did you start your business?
I started abbydid in January 2008. I’d been teaching myself to sew, and I started making little creatures for my kids as Christmas presents. My husband had been paying attention and surprised me with a nice sewing machine as a gift. He encouraged me to start selling, not just giving things away. My work took off in popularity, and here I am.

What do you sell?
I’m a plush maker, and monsters are my favorite; I put teeth and eyes on everything! I make everything from plush toys to cozies for your phone to scarves. I’m best known for my Wibbly Woo, which is a little monster with a pocket mouth that you can put things in. That was the first thing I got started with, and to this day, it’s my most popular item.

How much time do you spend on the business and how much time does it take to make an average item?
That’s a hard question; I tend to work while I’m taking breaks, working with whatever’s on the table. I float in and out, working on things in batches. If I were to sit down and work from start to finish, it might take about an hour or so, but it varies. For example, I just finished my largest creation to date, and he took a week and a half.

You sold at ComiCon this year. What’s your connection to the nerd industry?
I was bored with the indie craft thing, I was so burnt out with it. My friend Tara Heilman, who runs Robot Inside, and I tend to work in tandem, so we split a booth and brought our creatures down to ComiCon. Comic books use characters in print; I’m designing my creatures and turning them into 3D plush objects, and so it was a cool way to take our burgeoning art and be exposed to the masses. And it’s a similar struggle to [what comic book artists face]. [The attendees] were people who are genuinely interested in looking for new characters and alternative realities to escape to, so it was a fun way to diversify. There was no one else like us there.

I definitely plan on going back and bringing in more accessories, because ComiCon has a population that is enthusiastic and will really give you positive feedback.

Why and how did you gravitate toward the cute monster?
Monsters open themselves up to being anything. When you make a cat, there’s a prescribed idea of what a cat’s going to look like. A monster lends itself more to going down all sorts of avenues; you can go alien and ugly or cutesy and fun. An interesting piece of feedback I keep getting is that parents are thrilled to find a girly option in the monsters, too—they’re tired of the princess-y everything. It taps into the monster in all of us. I firmly believe we all have an inner child, and I think a lot of us end up regressing up as we get older. We learn to loosen up and relax, and I think that we all need something fuzzy to pet and comfort us through a bad day. We need a way to find comfort in everyday life.

The worst comment I get is, “Too bad I don’t have a grandchild or someone to buy for.” That’s your interpretation, not my intention—what I make is open to everyone. I think everyone has an inner kid that can play, too. Hence the scarves and the phone cozy. If you’ve got something cozy in your purse, your day’s going to brighten and feel a little better.

What have you learned since starting abbydid?
The hardest part for me has been valuing myself as an artist and admitting that I’m an artist. That took a long time. At first, I was charging practically nothing, but at this point my prices are fair enough that I’m compensated for my time and materials. That’s tough to do. We’re so trained to find the deal and, say, buy the $12 stuffed animal from a big box store. Handmade is not necessarily cheaper. It seems like I’m constantly trying to educate the public when I’m at shows as to why prices are the way they are. It’s also hard for me to market myself. I tend to be pretty humble, and it’s hard for me to talk myself up.

What resources here did you take advantage of and how did they help?
Here in Cincinnati, Fabricate has been one of my best friends; they’ve been so supportive and I’ll swear by them to my dying day. Crafty Supermarket is an example of a great show in town that supports artists, too. For me, I got a bit oversaturated; perhaps I was out there [at craft shows] too much. Now, I’m working on finding a happy medium, where I’m out there just enough. I’m also working the balance of being a stay-at-home mom; I have to take care of the live monsters before I take care of the plush ones.

Interview by Robin Donovan