Monday, May 14, 2012

Artist Interview - Fenny of Little Asian Sweatshop

Today on Tameeka Time we will be interviewing the mastermind behind the Little Asian Sweatshop; Fenny Lin.

Fenny and Tameeka Time @ NYCC
Fenny is no stranger to you Tameeka Time readers. Fenny was featured in my 2010 NYC Comic Con recap video. (Click on the photo to your right to see my interview with Fenny starting around 5:50).

Recently, I started noticing that Fenny was creating some pretty sick ass hair flowers made out of playing cards. I instantly wanted one, so I went to the Little Asian Sweatshop's Etsy Store and ordered the Playing Card Flower with Skull Mini Hair Flower Fascinator. If you want to purchase one of these hair flowers you can get 10% off by using Coupon Code: TameekaTime2012 !!  

I absolutely love it! 

After I ordered this hair flower I decided to reach out to Fenny to interview her about these amazing hair flowers. My mind is still blown on how she makes these and the amount of creativity that goes behind them.
Tameeka Time: So who is Fenny and what do you do?

Fenny: I'm the "mastermind" behind Little Asian Sweatshop.  I've been doing arts and crafts and sewing and all sorts of madness since...well, since I was little.  I also have crazy Type A personality, so I can't ever do anything in half measures.  If I'm going to sew or's a little "balls to the wall" and on a large scale...hahaha!

Tameeka Time: What is the little asian sweatshop?

Fenny: The LittleAsianSweatshop! I'm a one woman shop that tries to make really whimsical and adorable accessories, clothing and other fun stuff quickly...and all by hand.  I love that, because it makes each item I produce a little different and all a little "one of a kind".

Tameeka Time: Why did you decide to name your shop "little asian sweatshop"?

 Fenny: Haha...this is a pretty embarrassing story. Back in the day...when I was younger and way more insane and *really* into cos play.  My BFF Paigey (who as you know, is a pretty insanely awesome artist) would always come up with the most awesome ideas.

However...these awesome ideas never followed a normal pattern, which meant that as the only one in our little group that could sew, I had my work cut out for me.  I had to figure out how to make these fantastical designs into a reality...usually on a tiny budget (we were young and poor), and in a short amount of time.  I would be whipping out costumes for weeks leading up to the conventions...sometimes, basting hems and finishing up minor details even as we were pulling up to the convention center.  Everyone jokingly called me a "little Asian sweatshop". Although I'm now older and less brave (I still dress up on occasion...heeheehee), I still enjoy the rush of staying up until 2am to finish up a design or order (even though, I also have a day job I need to get to in the morning).

Tameeka Time: What's a typical little asian sweatshop day like?

Fenny: Haha!  There's no such thing as a "typical day".  I have a day job that I love, but I love the Sweatshop equally as much.  So it's a little like having two masters.  I try to be dedicated to my day job from 8am - 7pm, and then devote the evening and weekends to the Sweatshop. Usually, once I get home, I will whine until my husband takes pity on me and cooks dinner.  As he doing that, I will lock myself in my Sweatshop and work on orders or new design ideas.  My evening is usually peppered with texts to my "VP of Marketing and Design" (aka my BFF Paigey), with progress reports and pictures of what I'm working on so she can make edits to the art if necessary. OK, that was a small lie...only a tenth of our texts are about the Sweatshop.  Most of it is girl-talk.  But don't tell my husband that, he thinks that Paigey and I are always working hard...hahaha!

Tameeka Time: How much are these products?

Fenny: I try really hard to create a wide range of prices for my products.  I remember being a poor student and loving a lot of stuff but never being able to afford it, so I try to remember that awful feeling and price my products so that it's very accessible.

Usually, my hair flowers will range between $18 for the mini flowers, to $75 for the decked out rhinestoned flowers.  But most of my hair flowers are $24. My bags and hats range from $26 - $75 depending on the design. I will be offering up retro-styled dresses and skirts this fall (hopefully!) that will be printed with Paigey's art work.  I'm super duper excited by this! Mostly, I try to keep costs down as much as possible - in my magical dream world (where unicorns fart gold and brownies have no calories), I would be able to work out deals with everyone who wanted my stuff. I also donate a lot of my products to various causes, because sharing is caring :)

Tameeka Time: Where can I buy these products?

Fenny: You can buy it at my Etsy store (click the image below).

I'm hoping to open my own online store...soon.  But for now, the link will take you to my Etsy store! Enter the code "TameekaTime2012" for a 10% off discount  

If you're in NYC, you can also visit Enz's NYC ( and buy LittleAsianSweatshop flowers in person!

Tameeka Time: How did you get started doing this?

Fenny: Like most things, I blame my husband. I've always loved Etsy, but never thought about opening my own shop until my fabric and craft supplies overtook the 1 bedroom condo that we were living in at the time.  Most of my friends and family were the recipients of my insatiable mania for sewing...but even then, I made more then I could give away (my husband always half joked that my death would be from a tragic fabric accident).  He wanted me to take my stuff to craft shows, but I wasn't sure how my stuff would be received.  Then one day, a light bulb went off in my head - duh, I should sell on Etsy!

Tameeka Time: Who or what inspired you to make these products?

Fenny: All my products have a story behind them, but my favorite, is the poker card flowersPaigey was getting married in Vegas, and I was trying to think of a cute accessory to wear with my dress.  I was staring down at a pack of poker cards, trying to figure out how to make them into a dress, when it hit me. I then started toying around with the cards and started making them into flowers.  It took two or three tries before I got the flowers look like I wanted.  I immediately took a picture and sent it to Paigey...I think I could hear the squeals of delight from NYC!

Tameeka Time: What's the best thing about creating these products?

Fenny: It's kind of a high!  You know how people always talk about "runner's high" that they get from exercise? I get a "crafting high".  Anytime I complete a project, even if it's for a product that I've made hundreds of times before, I still get a little rush of excitement. Plus, I just like the thought that something *I* created will be worn by someone that I've never met before!  It's one thing to make something for your friends and family, it's another when a completely random stranger from the Internet likes your stuff too!  Validation rocks!

Tameeka Time: What's the worst thing about creating these products?

Fenny: The worst thing is when I have a design in my head, and I just can't get it to come out right.  It's so frustrating because it's SO CLEAR in my head, but I just can't make it a reality.

Tameeka Time: Which product is your favorite and why?

Fenny: I'm going to give a cop out answer and say that all my products are my favorite products.  It's true.  It's like having kids (not that I have kids) love each one for it's own reason. :D

Tameeka Time: How do you name your products?

Fenny: Well, I *used* to name my products after killing off a bottle of sangria.  But then some of my internet savvy friends told me that naming my products "omgz pizza would taste so good right flower" and "i'm drumk...backpack" makes SEO (Search Engine Optimization) harder.  So now most of my products have pretty boring (but descriptive) names like "Manga Hair Flower with Rhinestones".  But in my head that product is called "this 'Jazzberry' wine is fricking delicious...with rhinestones".

Tameeka Time: Where have these products been featured? 

Fenny: I've been SUPER DUPER fortunate!  I've been featured a bunch of places highlighted my Human Centipede Ouroboros

Fleece Hat and my GLaDOS Inspired Hair Flower...that LIGHTS UP (yes, IT LIGHTS UP!!!)

BoingBoing also gave me a little shout out.

As did for the GLaDOS flower. My friends talked about our *hilarious* crafting night (and why I shouldn't sew and drink at the same time). StitchSilly did a short little interview with me. So did I Could Sew Do That. And of course, my BFF Paigey gives me shout outs all the time.

Tameeka Time: What does the future of the little asian sweatshop look like? 

Fenny: I WILL RULE THE WORLD!!! HAHA...I kid (maybe). There are some exciting new things coming up for the Sweatshop - to start with, I am currently working on getting an agreement together so that other artists can design flowers and products for the Sweatshop!  I think that will be super exciting and it'll give many artists a different medium for their art! As I previously mentioned, a clothing line is in the works, and I'm going to expand my bags and hats (as soon as I have "free time" to get the prototypes completed)! Lots of exciting stuff!  And some more stuff that I've been noodling about, but I won't say more until I figure out how I can get these ideas out on paper ;)

Fenny and Paigey
Tameeka Time: Do you want to give any shout outs to any homies ? :D

Fenny: YES! First and foremost - my BFF and "VP of Marketing and Design", Paigey (  Seriously, she gives such great feedback and comes up with so many awesome new designs, I don't think the Sweatshop would be as successful as it is without her.  Plus, she really is a marketing genius - she constantly pimps out the Sweatshop! And of course, my husband, who is infinitely patient and supportive :)

And to my fellow online artists and crafters:
The Art of Paigey | LibbyTreats | Ghost Girl Fine Arts and Crafts | Christy Sawyer | Maria Danalakis Art and Design

For more info on The Little Asian Sweatshop go to Little Asian Sweatshop's Blog.

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