“When I was a kid, monsters made me feel that I could fit somewhere, even if it was… an imaginary place where the grotesque and the abnormal were celebrated and accepted.” – Guillermo del Toro, Vanity Fair.
I associate the word “monster” with the variety that live under the bed or in the shadows of the closet, but Monica Adkison Cerecero of Monster and Eli has created a line of handmade monster plushes that are more snuggly than scary.
Monster and Eli plushes come stuffed or lovey style with luxurious fur and ultra plush minky fabric. Cuddle (and mini-size) monsters include bigfoot, yeti and bear designs, as well as special limited releases like a Halloween bat, fox, dragon, winter penguin and the newest bunny. “I love being able to draw a picture and make it come to life in the same day,” exclaimed Cerecero. “It is a perfect creative outlet.”
Based in Idaho, Monster and Eli was born the same time Cerecero had her fourth baby Rafael in 2016. “I desperately wanted to help him be as comfortable at work (at Cerecero’s daycare center) as he was at home so I got busy making him a cuddle companion to help him have something to calm him and remind him of his happy place,” she recalled. The shop name pays homage to her sons Clay and Elisha (Eli). “My oldest son, Clay earned the nickname ‘Monster’ at an early age because of how quickly he grew,” Cerecero shared. “He was always a head taller than his peers and by the time he hit 9th grade, he was 6’2” and wore size 13 shoes (did I just spot a Bigfoot?). We couldn’t even get regular socks around his ankles because of how big he was. Elisha has had the nickname Elisha Bear since he was born.”
Cerecero’s children continue to influence her designs. “Elisha is happy to tell me what he would change,” she said. “Take the dragon for example. I already had one made and sent out to the photographer for pictures. He insisted that I changed it to a new design and I did as to encourage creative thought. Despite my time crunch, I messaged the photographer and told her to pause the photo shoot until I could get the replacement out. The original dragon face was put on the shelf and used for the bat instead.”
Cerecero learned to sew from her grandmother who handmade all of her clothes. “We had a family of ten and she kept us all well dressed from our pajamas to our graduation dresses,” said Cerecero. “When I was old enough, she started bringing me to pick out patterns, let me choose my own fabric and taught me to sew the clothes myself. She even helped me to make my wedding dress that I will get to pass down to my daughter. Handmade has my heart for good reason.” Cerecero also draws inspiration from her heritage. “I am also freakishly fond of my Norwegian heritage. It influenced me to add more of a masculine and rugged touch to my work.”
Need a monster for your own little monsters? Check out the Monster and Eli website and join the VIP Facebook group here. Don’t miss the amazing Monster and Eli dragon collaboration with Wolfe and Scamp on Thursday, February 14 at 8:30pm EST!