From portraits of your child or dog, to dinosaurs and butterflies, to The Very Hungry Caterpillar, FizzlePop Puppet Shop stitches custom felt finger puppets, barrettes, holiday ornaments, magnets, bookmarks, and magic wands that are playful, colorful and fun! Lauren Franklin, a mother of two small children, decided to turn her creative hobby into a business four years ago and started selling these whimsical felt pieces for all of us to enjoy. Let’s learn more about Lauren and her small business in this month’s interview!
SSP: How did FizzlePop Puppets come to be? What led you to starting this new business?
In 2015 when my now 5 year old daughter was a baby, we received some finger puppets as a gift that she adored. Since I always enjoyed crafting and dabbled a (very) little bit in sewing, I decided to create some puppets myself. They were a hit, and I soon began making some for her little friends, even taking requests, like a butterfly or Cinderella, for example. That summer, a friend of mine who runs a local monthly flea market offered me a booth to try my hand at selling to the public, which was an exciting but scary prospect. That's when FizzlePop Puppet Shop was born! I then began making custom birthday favors that matched a party's theme, which is way more personal and sustainable than a goody bag filled with tiny plastic toys that will ultimately get thrown away. I've made cartoon characters, dinosaurs, or female superheroes for parties! The puppets were exciting to me for many reasons, but perhaps one of the most compelling was the way it encouraged dramatic and imaginative play with manipulation of actual objects (and not screens!). We never take an airplane or car ride without finger puppets! It wasn't long before I started participating in other craft collectives and markets in Westchester and Brooklyn. I also have items in a store in northern California. In addition to the puppets, I now make barrettes, ornaments, magnets, magic wands, book marks, Easter egg treat holders (instead of plastic eggs!), and all sorts of custom orders from dog felt portraits to obscure ornaments (Post Malone's face, Gizmo wearing a Santa hat...) Everything is hand stitched by me!
SSP: Can you tell us a little about the creative process that goes into each piece?
I absolutely love the art of making something meaningful out of nothing but felt and thread. I particularly enjoy custom order requests for dogs because I usually sit with a photo of the subject for a while and do a fair amount of thinking about how to tackle it. It's like a puzzle. The magic for me is in the transition from the idea in my head to the actual finished object. There's no real blueprint, and each project is different. It's extremely satisfying. More generally, I just love the colorful and whimsical aspect of it all! Simply put, I draw inspiration from things I or my kids enjoy or find humorous.
SSP: How do you balance your work and being a mother of two small children?
That's the trickiest part! It took me almost a year and a half just to create a website. I joke that everything FizzlePop is mostly completed when my children are napping. I'm not sure I even have found balance! I've spent way too many late nights sewing because I didn't want to stop working on an item. I am, however, extremely lucky to have an amazing and supportive husband who encourages me, and the nature of being able to create in my own home is to my benefit as well.
SSP: What piece are you most proud of, and why?
That's a tough question. I once made a felt portrait based on a picture of a couple who were cheek to cheek and slurping some Udon from a bowl. I was thrilled with how it came out, and so were they! I recently made a 13 inch felt nutcracker for a Christmas tree skirt that was very sweet. Of course, my Sgt. Pepper's Beatles puppet set has always been one of my favorites.
SSP: I must say, I'm a huge fan of the Rock and Roll inspired collection and the Post Malone is absolutely hilarious....what was the recipient's response when they received this?
I think the recipient's response was happy shock! I wish I had been a fly on the wall for that reveal. Hand stitching all of those face tattoos was a fun challenge to say the least!
SSP: Where can we find your creations, and how do we contact you for a custom piece?
You can follow me on Instagram @fizzlepoppuppets where I post new pieces or info about upcoming markets. You can also browse around on my website at Fizzlepoppuppetshop.com . While you can't purchase through the website yet, you can email me at email@example.com with items you are interested in, and I accept Venmo for orders or cash and cards at markets.
SP: Do you have any words of advice to other moms and dads who are interested in turning their creative hobbies into a business?
Take the leap! Go ahead and try it, and you'll likely surprise yourself. Also, start out slowly, and take on only what you feel you can handle given the many other responsibilities you undoubtedly have to tend to. I suppose above all, it has to bring you joy.