Surely you remember Pogo Sweater Animals, which Inhabitots readers voted the best green toy of 2009! Pogos are “soft wooly friends who hide and play in the hollow trees and mossy clearings by day, but all want companions for stories and snuggling at night.” Made from upcycled wool sweaters, these eco-friendly handmade stuffed animals have charmed us all. Now we’d like to introduce you to the designer behind these cute creatures, Laura Ray. Here are Laura’s answers to five fun questions we asked her regarding her inspiration and the green process behind her beloved creations.
1. Where did you come up with the idea to make your Pogo Sweater Animals?
Laura: They’re sort of a revision of the upcycled T-shirt animals that I made for my daughters when they were little. The character that inspired them was in a children’s book, Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present. Mr. Rabbit had this wonderful little upright body that I just loved. My daughters are now both artists with Etsy shops of their own (Corduroy and Groundwork). It was their idea that I create similar wool animals to sell there.
2. What does ‘green’ mean to you?
Laura: I think that every little thing makes a difference, for the good of the earth or for its harm. Being green means that you get that and reflect it in your choices.
3. What (toy/possession/thing) did you most cherish when you were a kid?
Laura: I had a favorite brown bear that became lost in the woods. He was only a rag when I found him months later. I remember being so upset with my mother when she couldn’t bring him back to life. Maybe that was the beginning of Pogo Forest.
4. What three adjectives would you use to describe yourself as a tot… / as a grown-up?
Laura: As a tot: outdoorsy, easy-going, curious. I guess those words still work now.
5. What did you want to be when you grew up? Is there a connection to what you are doing now?
Laura: I wanted to be a writer. I liked the magical idea of ending up with a product, a story, that simply came out of your head. I eventually spent many lovely years as a first grade teacher. I suppose all that time with young children explains the bits of story I now write about Pogo Forest. Creating Pogos is very connected to my own childhood. I’m lucky enough to live by the same creek where I grew up and to photograph Pogos in the same woods where I played as a child. It’s a quiet life, but thanks to Pogos and Etsy, I’m now meeting people all over the world. For me, it’s a perfect combination.