Wugga Monsters was born serendipitously from the ashes of Jen Nicholson’s former Etsy shop. “Wugga Monsters was created completely on a whim. I have been selling on Etsy since 2016 as a side hobby and it wasn’t until spring of 2019 that I quit my full time job to become a full time small business owner,” she recalled. “I created my first ‘Wugga’ as a silly project for myself with fabric I had laying around from another failed Etsy shop I ran. When I posted a photo of it on Facebook, I was surprised by how many people showed interest. I created a couple more and they sold!”
“Wugga” is Nicholson’s coined name for her plush creations, inspired by her husband and three year old son, Sylas. “My husband liked to call my monsters ‘Wubbas,’ and a nickname we have for our son is Bug (Bugga-bear, bugga-boo, etc.).” Her favorite monster in the current collection is named “Nimbus:” “It is a panda with purple limbs and galaxy print eyes and ears. I like to fill my studio with pandas and purple is my favorite color.” Small shoppers have made frequent requests for Nicholson’s “Gordy” monster, named for its pumpkin shape and coloring. “Gordy is a green monster with a pumpkin face and is my largest Wugga to date,” she shared. “An Instagram follower asked if I would be making any seasonal monsters, which got me thinking. So, I whipped up my first Gordy and he sold very quickly. People started asking for more and I recreated him, but now I can’t seem to keep him in stock!”
Each Wugga Monsters plush is handmade by Nicholson and stitched with an embroidered face. “I am against using small plastic pieces, like safety eyes and buttons, because I am an anxious mom, so I embroider all of the facial features and characteristics on an embroidery machine,” she explained. “I don’t want to create anything meant for a child that could be potentially harmful. The beneficial part about this is it gives me peace of mind and design consistency because each one will be the same every time it stitches out on my machine.” Before steaming ahead with Wugga Monsters, Nicholson surveyed the small shop landscape to find her own niche. “A lot of my inspiration comes from my Instagram followers and from other designers. Now, I know what you’re thinking. ‘Other designers?!,’ but it’s not like that,” she laughed. “I love seeing all of the other plushies that other creators make because everyone has their own style. I look at them and think, ‘how can I stand out? What is something that no one else is doing?’ This pushes me to look within myself and find something unique to offer. And lucky for me, if I have a creative block, my followers are not shy to tell me what they would like to see in future Wuggas.”
Focusing on the Wuggas full-time allows Nicholson to design the minky creatures she imagined during childhood. “I liked dolls that were eccentric or funny looking, so I love that I can create derpy little plushies for other kids that like plushies the way I do.” But, running a small shop has its own small challenges. “As a small shop owner and a mom, I struggle with time management. I find that I need to spend a lot more time on social media to engage with my followers, post new products, give updates, and so much more,” said Nicholson. “I am a very introverted person and spending so much time on social media can be exhausting and scary because now all of these folks can see me and comment on my work. However, I have met some amazing makers and fellow moms and it is great to have people I can relate to.”
Nicholson already has her sights set on the holiday season this year. “Often, when you hear winter you think of Christmas, but Christmas is not very inclusive for folks who celebrate Chanukah, Kwanza, or Yule. Rather than create a Santa or reindeer plush, I am shooting for a winter theme, perhaps a snowman or gnome, something that represents the season and not the holidays. This way everyone can find something appropriate.” Get a jump on your holiday shopping through the Wugga Monsters Etsy shop and join the Wugga Monsters VIP Facebook group here for discounts and sneak peaks.