S - You've been crocheting as Mr. Funky since 2003. How long did you crochet as a hobby before you decided to make the leap to business?
MF - It probably took me 1 year to establish Mr.Funky. I had never crocheted in my life until year 2002. I started going to crochet class at yarn shop every Saturday for 2 months. I was crocheting ALL THE TIME!
S - Since you began, have you been able to turn Mr. Funky into a full time job, or do you have another profession you balance as well? Do you have any advice for people who want to make their craft their business?
MF - In 2003, I started showing my Amigurumi dolls to store owners. I also showed my creations at parties, clubs, art walk and sample sales... basically anywhere I went. There were so many events in Los Angeles, and I just took advantage of the opportunity of living in La La Land. I talked about Mr.Funky to every single person I met. At that point, I was working as a movie editor for a small company and a model scout for movies. I didn't think Mr.Funky would turn to be my full time business, but I participated in 2 trade shows in summer 2003, and I received huge orders from the shows. After that I started working with sales reps in California, Texas, Georgia, and Massachusetts.
S - You grew up in Tokyo, Japan. A lot of the cutest Amigurami books and patterns I've seen come from there. Do you think growing up in Tokyo had a large influence on your work and style?
MF - Most definitely, and I am lucky to be born in the 70's. I LOVE 70's culture. I am inspired by the cool Japanese animations, cartoons, TV shows, and music and they are mostly from 70's. Also my dad was musician, and he's taken me to see lots of Jazz concerts and live music since I was a little kid. I often create Amigurumi dolls by listening good music.
S – Are there certain musicians in particular that inspire you?
MF - Sun Ra, Miles Davis, Max Roach, Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Zakir Hussain, Fela Kuti.
S - On your website, you talk about your work being inspired by fashion from the 1920s through the 1970s? Are there specific designers or pieces that inspire you as well?
MF - I have lots of designers and art pieces that inspire me. I think that good color coordination is one of the most important keys of my creations. I often see greatest products come from simple designs with great color combinations.
S - Last July, you came out with your book Super Crochet Wonderful. It's great! Can you tell people a little more about both the experience of creating it and the book itself?
MF - The experience of writing this book was amazing. It was like having 2 full time jobs, and I worked really hard for this book! The book shows how to make Amigurumi dolls and crochet accessories like hats and scarves. I included both written and diagram instructions. If you know single, half and double crochet, you can make most of the projects in the book. It's really fun, and I want everybody to check it out!
S - I like that the book has a mix of both crochet accessories and dolls. Which did you begin making first? Do you find you have more fun with one over the other?
MF - I started making both accessories and dolls at the same time. I like working on both projects, so I don't have more fun with one over the other.
S - When did you start coming up with your own patterns and designs? How often do you find you create new patterns, and do you have a particular process that helps you invent new pieces?
MF - I started coming up with new designs soon after I started crocheting. When I come up with new ideas, I usually draw sketches and sleep on it for days, sometimes weeks. After that I review the idea, and if it's doable, I go to the yarn store, get some yarns and actually create the piece. So creating new designs take one day to weeks, it depends on my mood.
S - The book is great because the instructions and patterns are easy to follow, but I also love your book's emphasis on being able to use inexpensive yarn. Do you have favorite places to buy yarn or favorite brands you would suggest?
MF - If you live in LA area, I would suggest going to Yarns Unlimited on Pico Blvd in Santa Monica.
S - Your website is adorable as well! I love the introduction with bunny in the boat. Do you find you do most of your business online? How often do you update your shop with new things?
MF - I used to do online business well, but I had to stop for a while because my wholesale business became more demanding. Right now, I am selling only Mr.Funky book on my website. I should be able to update my site within 1 month for new products. I will definitely let you know when it's ready!!
S - Lastly, any upcoming plans you'd like to share?
MF - I am focusing on more new Amigurumi dolls and Hyperbolic crochet and free form style. I also have been working on Amigurumi kits. Besides crocheting, I am learning web designs and I hope to update my site on my own!
Everyone should check out Narumi's new book! You can buy it directly from her here, or leave a comment for your chance to win one.