“While slaving away as day job zombies, my husband and I dreamed of opening a little online shop where we could mix our love for all things geeky with our maker skills,” recalled Kelly Messer. “For years, it was just a dream, but in March 2017, that all changed.” Messer gifted a set of Poppets – her crocheted stuffed toys (also known as amigurumi) – to Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes, better known as “Jay and Silent Bob.” “We gave them the Poppets after attending their live podcast of Jay & Silent Bob Get Old. Kevin Smith shared a picture of the two of them with their Poppets, and suddenly, I was getting DMs on Instagram with requests for other characters.” From these unexpected beginnings, Freak + Pocky was born. I asked Messer to speak geek with me about the small shop.
Freak + Pocky specializes in the Poppets, both original (7”) and mini-size (5”), as well as crocheted ornaments, decals and t-shirts. “You want to hear something funny? My original plan didn’t even involve Poppets at all, but now it has become my favorite thing to make,” Messer exclaimed. “People really seem to love the little chubby bellies, short legs that turn in, and the chibi style of each character.” (“chibi” is Japanese slang for “small” or “short”). Many of the Freak + Pocky designs are influenced by the Poppet Master’s love of movies and video games. In fact, the shop name itself is derived from Messer and her husband’s gamer tags, Freak4Geek and Apockylypse. “Yet another way to add our geeky ways into what we do,” she joked. “We have always been focused on bringing our favorite fandoms to life. I try to find the one thing about a movie or game character that really makes them memorable and exaggerate it, like Yoda’s ears or a mermaid’s long hair. It is wild how that one little thing can add so much personality to a Poppet!” Some of Messer’s favorites include the Baby Demogorgon from Stranger Things, Harry Potter’s Dobby the Sock Elf, and Gir the Mongoose Dog from Invader Zim. “Not only are these inspired by some of my favorite fandoms, but I think these little guys have so much personality in the designs,” she said. “Our geek gang has a few favorites, too. Right now, the Louise mini Poppet and Baby Demogorgon have been getting the most love from our friends.” Freak + Pocky will also customize Poppets for small shoppers. “I have turned a few friends into Poppets and they have been a big hit. When anyone makes a custom request, I usually send a rough sketch of the design before starting the project – but one added feature is that people can now watch their custom Poppets come to life in real time on my Twitch channel, Apockylypse.”
Working with yarn allows Messer to “sculpt” the Poppets into different shapes. “I enjoy how relaxing it can be, especially after a long, stressful day at work.” And, while crocheting can be time consuming, Messer measures the time spent on a project in the number of episodes of Supernatural she can watch while working. “I catch up on a lot of my fandoms during my crocheting. Most of my ornaments can be done during one episode of Supernatural, but the more detailed ornaments take between two and three episodes.”
Poppets make perfect holiday gifts for video gamers of all ages. Check out the new cute and creepy Poppets inspired by some favorite scary shows and movies, plus a new pocket-sized Poppet hitting the shop soon. “The more ways to geek out together, the better! For those geeky crocheters, we are going to be adding our very first pattern. Stay tuned for a few more secrets we have up our sleeves,” Messer teased. All of the current Poppet Posse designs are available on the Freak + Pocky website and in the shop’s VIP Facebook group here.