Bailey Hendrickson, owner of Adorable Potato Creations, with one of her specialty plushies called Totally Normal Non Suspicious Duck. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Bailey Hendrickson, owner of Adorable Potato Creations, with one of her specialty plushies called Totally Normal Non Suspicious Duck. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

This self-taught seamstress crafts cute and cuddly plushies

Everett’s Bailey Hendrickson sells homemade stuffed animals and art under the name Adorable Potato.

EVERETT — Are sharks cute? What about stingrays? Depends on who you ask, but most people probably wouldn’t put them in the same category as puppies and kittens.

But with the right fabric, Bailey Hendrickson, 27, can transform any creature into a suitable teddy bear stand-in. The seamstress crafts stuffed animals, or plushies, from her bedroom workshop in Everett and sells them online.

Adorable Potato Creations is her business’ name, and selling cuteness is her game.

“I just want to bring a little bit of happiness to people when they see it, have something nice to look at in this terrible world we live in,” Hendrickson said.

Hendrickson devotes her full-time to designing, creating and marketing her art. She started selling homemade plushies in 2019 but has since branched out into other products like enamel pins, bookmarks, art pins and stickers. She also sells downloads of her original sewing patterns and embroidery designs.

Some of Hendrickson’s larger plushies sell for up to $250, but the “soft friends” currently listed on her online shop list for $40 to $65. The customer apparel, according to Hendrickson, is having something that is one of a kind.

“People love handmade stuff in the age of mass-produced items,” Hendrickson said. “And everybody loves soft and squishy and plushie things.”

It takes Hendrickson a couple of weeks to design a new plushie from scratch. Sewing takes her about two days to complete. Hendrickson likes to use thick and scruffy fabric. And her stuffing of choice are glass beads, which she said are heavy and more eco-friendly than plastic. The result is something cute, simple, fluffy, huggable and “chonky,” but getting to that end result can take a lot of trial and error.

“Sewing (plushies) is hard because not only are you making a 3D shape from a 2D shape, you’re doing it inside out and backwards,” Hendrickson said.” So that’s why it’s confusing, because all your seams are on the inside.”

Hendrickson first got into art as a kid after watching “The Lion King.” She loved the movie so much that she taught herself to draw. In 2007, she began posting her work online to The Lion King Fan-Archive. There she received lot of feedback and encouragement from other artists on the fan site.

“I spent most of my art career drawing lions,” she said. Today she still struggles keeping her art from looking too “lion-king-y.”

As for sewing, she got into the craft around age 10 after taking classes at Camp Stitch-a-Lot, which is run by the Snohomish County Clothing and Textile Advisors. Hendrickson said the youth program was “a blast” and she has been sewing ever since.

A couple of years ago Hendrickson decided to try sewing stuffed animals. Was she good at it? No. But she loved it regardless, way more than her job at the craft-supply chain Michaels. She wanted a change.

“I was miserable at my job. So I just quit,” Hendrickson said. “I jumped in feet first and it wasn’t really a hobby for very long.”

With support from her family, Hendrickson was able to devote her full attention to starting her business. She also received advice from other sewers online.

“The plush community is super welcoming,” she said. “And everybody helps each other, which is unlike any other online community I’ve ever been a part of. Usually, it’s kind of cutthroat in the art communities. But the plush people are just amazing.”

With their guidance, Hendrickson refined her skills and her sales slowly, but steadily, grew. To date, she’s made several hundred plushies.

One thing Hendrickson learned from other plushie makers is to set her expectations low starting out. She knows of several people who burned themselves out by overworking or who became discouraged after not finding immediate success and quit.

“I’ve been watching people burn out like left and right for the past three years,” she said. “You make friends, and then they disappear because it’s very, very mentally taxing.”

Hendrickson didn’t make a single sale in her first three months in business. But she has gone on to create a small, but loyal following. She even has a three-tiered membership program. For a monthly fee, you too can become a member of The Potato Club. Perks include sneak peeks at upcoming products, exclusive merchandise to buy and shop discounts. It’s one method Hendrickson uses to diversify her income.

Recently, Hendrickson has started to shift her focus away from plushies to other products she can more easily mass-produce in a factory, like enamel pins. This year she launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for her “Trash Friends” pin set, which features raccoons, possums, pigeons and more. She raised $3,467 to cover manufacturing costs.

Moving forward, Hendrickson wants to get her plushies mass-produced in a factory too. That way she’ll have a bigger inventory and lower the cost. Her goal is to build a financially sustainable enterprise without straining her mental health and burning out. Hendrickson still has a ways to go, but at the moment, she’s content, and can take pride in everything she creates.

“I’m not anywhere close to the success that I would like to have, because I don’t even make nearly a living wage right now. I’m still totally building,” Hendrickson said. “Every single week I learn a new skill, and that’s the most satisfying feeling ever, to just learn new stuff all the time that you can apply to your business.”

For more information on Hendrickson’s work, visit adorablepotatocreations.com.

Eric Schucht: 425-339-3477; eric.schucht@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @EricSchucht.

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