Today I have the pleasure of sitting down with Modern Mom Mia, who is the creator of Pop and Lolli, a company that makes removable wall decals in large sizes and exuberant colors that parents and kids can have fun switching around, dressing up, and re-arranging into different compositions whenever they fancy. Well, I’ll let Mia and the images tell the story. For information on how to buy any of these designs, simply click on the image.
How did you get your current business of the ground?
I was working at the time as an Imagineer (Architect for Disney) when my husband and I found out that we were pregnant with our first child. Returning to work after the birth of Anabelle was really challenging, as the demands of the job and the lifestyle which a new baby allowed was tough and difficult to balance. It felt like both required my full time attention, 24/7. We do not have any family in America, and a nanny was caring for Anabelle during the day. The knowledge that someone else was caring for my baby, and I was missing out on all her important little developments and milestones saddened me! But, living in LA is tough on one salary, even more so with the addition of a new family member during the worst of a bad economy. My husband and I decided to try and make it work and I resigned as an Imagineer to ensure that I can be full time with our daughter.
My first creative task at home was to decorate my daughter’s new room. And this is where it all started! After lots of thought and research, I knew I wanted something funky, spunky, unique, BIG, colorful, and permanent in style, yet temporary enough to move it with us when/if we ever move again. I loved the idea of wall decals, but couldn’t find anything that really emotionally connected with me. Everything was too small, it covered too little walls – nothing offered a true work of art, a mural, a complete interactive experience … and so I decided to take matters in my own hands and just do it myself. We received raving reviews from our friends, so my husband and I decided to see whether we can develop it into a business… welcome to Pop & Lolli! 11 Months of extreme dedication, intense passion, pure joy, LOT’S of hard work and sacrifices, very little sleep and tons of research later, Pop & Lolli launched on 10/10/10. I can now truly say, I am at my Happy Place!
How has your childhood in South Africa influenced your work?
I was born and raised in South Africa and earned a degree in Architecture at the University of Pretoria. After I graduated and got married, I moved with my husband to Washington, DC (we have since moved to Los Angeles). I have always had an intense passion for true African Art and Culture. The color and the vibrancy of the designs, and the unique and extreme variance in style and most often the fine attention to detail are all awe-inspiring. South Africa is a gorgeous country and has TONS to offer – most people have a hard time believing we have ELEVEN official languages! A true rainbow nation and a melting pot of many great things – it certainly is a recipe for fantastical creations! The textures, the landscapes, the sunsets, the smells, the food, the color, the languages … one can only listen, smell, observe, taste and feel to KNOW Africa is in your blood. And if it’s in your blood it is a part of you, one cannot help but to always be mesmerized, reminisce and be affected by it. Always. Often. And I’m proud of it!
Please take us on a bit of a virtual tour of your studio. What’s the neighborhood like? What were some of your priorities when finding a space where you need to be creative?
We currently live in a small quaint little neighborhood sandwiched between Miracle Mile and Beverly Hills in Los Angeles. It is a wonderfully small little tree-filled neighborhood, with lots of beautiful old 1920’s Los Angeles homes, yet close enough to be within walking distance to some of LA’s trendiest little hot spot cafes, restaurants and parks. My biggest priority when trying to create my office was SPACE! We seem never to have enough of it! Since working full time on Pop & Lolli my office space has moved 3 times within the house…. I’m always complaining that I never have ENOUGH SPACE! Currently I have my own semi-private little area (chosen such to still be able to cast a watchful eye on Anabelle whilst busy working on Pop & Lolli with her being able to go about her own play time without interfering with Mommy too much) with a brightly painted hot pink wall, a stainless steel retro office desk and a gracious red egg chair awaiting you if you come and visit for a cup of tea! I design the decals on my guilty pleasure, a beautiful Mac.
How do you stay inspired? Please walk us through your design process.
BOOKS! BLOGS! South Africa! We try to visit South Africa once yearly and I always come back filled to the brim and expanding out of my mind full of amazing inspiration… After a trip I usually have enough content in my mind to last me several collections! Usually the challenge to remaining inspired, is finding enough TIME to process the thoughts, organize my ideas and execute the design. Big inspiration tends to come when I’m least ready for it, and that’s when the iPhone camera comes in real handy! I’ve luckily also been blessed with an amazing memory and tend to freeze beautiful moments in my mind to recall later for when I’m ready to draw. I like to paint, sculpt, draw, write, which usually leads to informal designs. I then usually like to excitedly share these genius ideas with my very non-designer brained husband, and in the few cases which I can see a faraway twinkle in his eye, I know to take it to the computer where I then like to formalize the art in Illustrator – my very best friend!
Please tell us a bit about your current line – Can you tell us a bit about how this decal can equal family fun?
Noah’s African Circus was the collection that started it all, and is the collection originally designed for my daughter – and it happens to be our most popular too! I wanted to create characters with a lot of personality and filled with flavor, laughter, fun and very many detail. I liked the idea of dressing them all up in fabulous fashions, like checks, tartans, glasses etc., and to have each collection be gender neutral. Something a little bit unexpected and quite out of the ordinary. I purposely used bold and intense colors, and designed them such that all the collections can interact and match with each other to ensure no two rooms can ever be alike. I liked the idea of dressing the decals up for an occasion and decided to include fun and themed overlays like the Birthday, Halloween and Christmas Overlay. This ensures family fun for everyone, which young and old can enjoy together to either use it by itself or dress up your current art or decals on your wall for extra laughter and fun. It also utilizes the full potential of the fabric decals as they are very removable and reusable. Use for a few months and store for the rest of the year to use again later!
Do you have any advice for anyone suffering from a creative block? Read Design BLOGS! Browse Etsy! It’s crazy how much amazingly awesome content there is on the web! There are SO very many talented people sharing fabulous inspirational ideas that will spark your own enthusiasm. An overseas trip to explore other cultures has never hurt anyone either!
Do you have any words of wisdom for creatives who are ready to make the leap into a building a business?
With true passion and a heart for what you believe in, surround yourself with inspiring, caring, supportive friends and… jump! Even if you fail, you will be caught by caring hands! I like to refer to Pop & Lolli as my community project. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it takes the city of Los Angeles to start Pop & Lolli. I truly would never have been able to launch Pop & Lolli if it wasn’t for the incredible and amazingly wonderful and supportive community of the world’s most amazing group of talented friends who helped me and supported me unconditionally all the way always!
Please tell our readers more about Chic 2 Change!
Living in the US, a country filled with opportunity, I have always wanted to give back to South Africa. And with the birth of Pop & Lolli we realized this was the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone and also start my much dreamed about charity! I really like the TOMS Shoes philosophy of one for one, but in reality, decals are not the highest priority for non-privileged children! As such, we donate a fixed percentage of all Pop & Lolli profits to Chic 2 Change. After careful consideration we decided to partner with a wonderful charity in South Africa who has their finger on the pulse and know exactly what and where the current needs are. It was also important for me to ensure 100% of the donated dollars get applied towards enriching the needy children, and as such no admin fees or third party costs are charged. We just came back from our very first charity distribution – and it was amazing! I’m excited at the opportunity to help facilitate change. We are hoping for a Pop & Lolli boom in 2011 and start contributing to local charities in the US too.
Thank you SO MUCH to Mia for taking the time to share her story and advice with us! For more information about Chic 2 Change, click here. For information on how to buy any of these designs, simply click on the images.