Hi! Wanda asked me to pop in and share a little history with you! It's about sewing.
After Wanda's name dropped into my head, and her first story and then her second story >> something important happened. I created her as a plush toy.
I have always loved my childhood snake Cecil, who I still have decades later.
And plush toys are the embodiment of comfort to me. So it was natural to create a Wanda plushie. I wish I had a video of me cutting out the fabric, piecing her together, and just contemplating how she would look. But I don't.
The only evidence I have is Original Wanda!
As Wanda and I have grown together, and shared her inspiration of self-care and self-love, our sewing has grown too. In our early years, we were blessed with a great crowdfunding experience. Part of that money created the very first Wanda Petunia Sewing Collective.
Originally the idea was to teach creatives to sew as a way to help support themselves as painters, illustrators, sculptors. But I quickly learned that was not a good idea... we did have fun though!
To sew Wanda as a plushie in a viable way, it would help if someone already knew how to sew. (Photo right: grateful to Julie from The Dressmaker's Closet (r) for helping us start. With Bernice (l), Staci and Shannon!
This quickly transformed into a few dear friends who sewed Wanda plushies - namely Andy (he's a true sweetheart) and Bernice (CEO - Chief Encouragement Officer of Wanda Petunia)!
And over the following months and years, I would work with a sewing collective in Haiti and eventually create my own core group of friends - Bernice, Pat, and Debi - to gather and create Wandas in joy together.
Bernice started sewing Wanda plushies for me in exchange for me officiating the wedding of one of her sons :)
Bernice has been a staple in my world, offering support and much love over the years!
She still does!
Pat is a friend of Bernice's from their art group. And, she is truly a talented creative. Wanda and I have been sew so grateful for her love and support. In addition to helping sew plushies, Pat created a dress for me from my Wanda self-care fabric and she made the very first collection of tote bags featuring the self-care fabric!
Debi joined us and did photography for Wanda's website too! She's another amazing and talented creative that I've been blessed to know. Debi and Bernice had lots of fun disagreeing (lovingly) over whether Wanda's outfits (made from repurposed fabric) should be "matchy matchy" or not!
For awhile we all sewed together at a fabric store, then moved to my office in Charleston, WV. Other friends would join us here and there to create one of a kind plush pigs.
Somewhere in the process of making Wanda plushies, I had the opportunity to create a bigger bunch of plushies for a project. After doing research on Maker's Row, I found a small batch manufacturer in NYC. It was quite an endeavor and another whole story I'll share later. A small garment manufacturer in NYC that I visited and liked created 100 Wanda plushies - who were like Original Wanda.
In 2017, when I expanded my business to Charlotte, NC, I discovered Make Welcome at Project 658. This is a group that teaches refugee women to sew, and they offer beautiful community that supports financial empowerment and healing support for these women. They created a collection of 15 Wanda plushies that went to girls-at-risk in a mentoring program called "Proud and Pretty Girls" with Life Connections of the Carolinas. Over a dozen friends of me and Wanda funded this project! Thank you again!!!
For awhile, there was a pause in sewing. But I love supporting worthwhile endeavors like Make Welcome, and I deeply love sharing self-care and self-love messages.
So in 2019, I applied for a HUG grant from Creative Morning Charlotte. HUG = Helpful Unfettered Gift.
The grant requested funds (they give $250) to create a #fashionwithamission line of fiber products that promoted self-care and featured our self-care fabric.
After being awarded a grant > YAY > Wanda and I began working with Make Welcome in a new way. We created tote bags, clutches, and eye pillows. This was our effort to repurpose as much fabric as we could, and create items that are functional and created thoughtfully and responsibly to people and the planet. Thank you to Beth for coordinating and for Hblung for sewing so many new amazing products for friends of Wanda!
So far, we've made 7 mini-collections that have all SOLD OUT! It's a little challenging because we choose to pay a good price to those who sew for us, and the illustrated fabric is pricey. So to get the prices affordable, we aren't making much... but it's enough to keep going and growing. This is how responsible creation of products happens, and it's worth it.
If you choose to purchase a Wanda Petunia fiber product, please know that much love and thought went into it. It's made with great care.
Just last night, my dad fixed the broken sewing machine and helped me sew the newest collection of eye pillows. I love sewing and like to do it from time to time to stay in the creative field too. Dad even helped me fill them with Young Living lavender aromatherapy filled rice. He found a funnel and a scales to weigh them for quality control!
I recently created the first collection of Pocket Wanda plush too, with a new collection in process now!
If you're interested in what we're doing, I hope this little history helps! I'll share more in the future too. Most importantly, thank you for your interest and support and remember "Self-Love does save the planet!" The better you feel, the more you can be of service to others.
And we will be here with Wanda reminders to support you!!