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Meet Josie Garcia, Tedd Smith and Bossy Beast of Monstorium in Uptown Phoenix

Today we’d like to introduce you to Josie Garcia, Tedd Smith, and Bossy Beast.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Josie, Tedd, and Bossy. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Led by the Bossy Beast in the vast urban landscape of Phoenix, Monstorium’s collection of monster products are artfully designed, crafted, and curated by two humans who share a love of monsters. The monsters you find at the Monstorium are for ages 5 to 500 and are created to spread joy and fulfill the creepy cute needs of the young at heart. Our monster-themed business has brought us closer together as friends while uniting our creative energies (and love for monsters, of course)!

Monstorium got its start in 2017 at Cocoon Art Space, a pop-up art space dedicated to local artists, where we curated exhibits during first and third Fridays in the Roosevelt Arts District. The cute monsters we enjoyed painting and designing for ourselves first made their appearance as decorative pieces on a shelf at the art space, but such interest developed around the figurines that we decided to create a business around them. Our monster business allows us to use our creativity and skills to create creepy cute products that include, wood monster ornaments and boxed sets, BigHeads made from leftover pieces in the woodshop, posters, stickers, totes, zipper pouches, apparel and our favorites, the brightly colored stuffies! The creatures we work for cause us to smile and laugh, and we realize that other people feel the same. We see genuine excitement and joy when people spot our products in local galleries, art markets, or discover monsters hidden around Phoenix. In October 2018, we hosted Monstorium’s first pop-up monster shop for first and third Friday that included all of our products available for sale at Cocoon Art Space. During Autumn, or monster season as we like to call it, we stay busy by participating in local markets and fall festivals around the Valley.

Enter the Bossy Beast
During one of our early painting and monster design sessions, we unwittingly unleashed an ancient entity that has claimed the shape of a scaley, reptilian sea monster. This creature’s goal, as stated to us, is to use the Monstorium to share monsters with the world, and his story, one too long for this article, has been incredibly inspirational to us. Now dubbed the Bossy Beast, he has become a mascot of sorts and believes himself to be the brains of the operation. We do allow him to be front and center, which has only encouraged his behavior, but since we know who actually does the work, and are not interested in the limelight, the arrangement seems to work out for us. He is very opinionated and bossy, but we love him anyway!

The following is an excerpt from the memoirs of Monstorium’s leader, The Bossy Beast:
“Since I was a wee salamander-sized baby monster, I have dreamt of creating a place for monsters to exist until they can find a safe home. Like humans, monsters are often misunderstood. The denizens of the Monstorium are all seeking loving dwellings and fun families to soothe their beastly natures and be happy. I run the show around here, but my “helpers” seem to think they help more than they hinder my creative process. Sure they create my monster friends, and run the online shop, manage orders, feed and care for our monsters until finding human keepers, encourage the adoption of my monster friends…okay, so they do a lot. Plus, I believe they have day jobs or something. At any rate, I am the head monster in charge! Sometimes they call me Bossy Beast, but I’m good with that. At least my human minions understand their place! Since my fleshy hairless ape partners seem to have a reasonably good grasp on what it takes to run my Monstorium, I let them do their thing.”

Has it been a smooth road?
One of the challenges we experience is managing our full time lives with our full-time monster business. Making sure we have the time to give our company the time and energy it requires can be difficult at times, but with proper planning, and maintaining our development and production schedules, we are learning to make it happen.

Bossy Beast: My humans need more time to invest in our handcrafted monster business.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Monstorium story. Tell us more about the business.
While we offer creatures in plenty of formats, shapes, and sizes, the wood monsters and stuffies are our top sellers. Our duo of monster designers starts with brainstorming and sketches in the Tome of Monstrous Ideas before the little creatures are brought to life as hand painted or digitally illustrated products on wood, fabric, or paper. We strive to utilize methods, materials and production partners that are ethical and earth-friendly–resulting in monsters and creatures of lore that are genuinely nothing to be afraid of!

We hand paint our wood monsters with non-toxic acrylic paint, and initial and number each one before sealing them with water-based varnish. These fun little art collectibles are decorative but also serve other purposes such as ornaments, cake toppers, game pieces, and so much more! They are a fan favorite for kids as toys or for adults as cubicle displays or seasonal home decor.

Monstorium’s two-sided monster stuffies are a cross between a pillow and traditional plushie with original monster designs, giving them a unique look that cannot be mistaken for something else. Children and adults love our eco-friendly materials and handcrafted stuffies–they are a joy to touch and snuggle with! Our illustrations feature heavy linework and bold colors that practically jump off of the fabric, and many times, it is the vibrancy of the color and quality of the material that attracts customers’ eyes. We illustrate and design our monsters, pin, sew, and stuff them with non-allergenic filling before reviewing them for quality. Each stuffie is also labeled with a Monstorium branded tag because we are proud of the products we create and want to provide a complete, professional, yet low volume, handcrafted product. These plushies are definitely made for all ages, or as we like to say, for ages five to 500!

Our products are created out of the desire to offer them to the broader public, not because we want to follow in someone else’s footsteps or ride a trend. The artists in us feel the need to create quality items, and the business side of our brains know our monster offerings need to be a complete experience for the buyer that rivals any mass-produced item sold worldwide by entertainment conglomerates. Handmade does not need to be of low quality. As designers and artists, we see each of our monsters as little pieces of art, and we intend on keeping that outlook as we grow.

We always love to ask about the support network – have there been people, perhaps mentors or advisors, who have played a big role in your success?
Like many small operations, the leaders of the monster shop have turned to family for support. The human male helper’s father, with permission by the Bossy Beast, lends his talents with a wood lathe to provide Monstorium with the uniquely sized and shaped BigHeads made from wood scraps and leftovers from the workshop. The two little humans who help, as the Bossy Beast refers to them, are great at keeping the creatures of the Monstorium busy and out of trouble. They follow in their mother’s footsteps by being part of the business–offering suggestions, ideas, and inspiring the two adult helpers with their youthful charm!

Without the support of other humans, like our fans and customers who stop in each month during the art walks, visit our booth at local markets, or look us up online to see our latest monster offerings, the monsters may never find their homes. It is a great feeling to see our monsters adopted and to know that other people find interest in what we love to do!

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