On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast, we’re talking about building a business crocheting dolls with my guest Allison Hoffman.
Allison Hoffman has been crocheting and designing fun amigurumi for over a decade, has written five crochet books, and lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and three sons. She spends her workdays crocheting weird stuff, writing down how she did it, and you can find out all about it at her website, craftyiscool.com. Her two newest books are “Crochet ‘The Golden Girls’” and “‘Friends’ Crochet”, both to be released Fall of 2020.
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We begin this interview by talking about Allison’s childhood. She was always artistic and crafty, although when she was a teenager growing up in Texas, DIY was not cool and she didn’t talk about it much. Allison got a degree in communications sciences and disorders from the University of Texas and briefly worked in that field before realizing it wasn’t a great fit for her. She went on to have a series of other jobs before returning to crafting by getting into scrapbooking.
Once she became a mom, she learned to knit, although didn’t find fall in love with it the way she did when she discovered crochet, particularly amigurumi dolls she found while searching Craftster, and early online message board for crafty folks. Soon, she found a book about amigurumi and taught herself to make dolls for her children, specifically the characters from their favorite show at the time: Yo Gabba Gabba. Right from the start, Allison was potentially crossing the line between creating fan art and violating a company’s intellectual property; she was asked to remove her Yo Gabba Gabba pattern from Craftster, but later saw her dolls on the TV show.
Tiger King Joe Exotic by Allison Hoffman
Since then, Allison has built a business based on creating life-life amigurumi of all sorts of pop culture icons. She’s had fabulous and exciting successes, such as meeting Conan O’Brien and being publicly recognized by Lizzo (and many many others). And she’s sold patterns and written five craft books based on her original designs.
Allison Hoffman with Conan O’Brien
Mr. Rogers by Allison Hoffman
She’s also occasionally run into trouble. Most recently, her Baby Yoda pattern, from the character in The Mandalorian, went viral over Thanksgiving weekend, causing the yarn it was made from to sell out at JOANN stores nationwide. After only being on sale for five days, she was asked by legal counsel at Disney to remove the pattern and scrub all of her images from the internet. Since then, dozens of other people have published crochet patterns for Baby Yoda on Etsy. Hear how Allison handled the situation, what she learned from it, and what she would (and wouldn’t) do differently next time.
Bear Cub by Allison Hoffman
In this conversation we reference:
- Amigurumi!: Super Happy Crochet Cute by Elizabeth Doherty
- Over My Dead Body podcast
- the Bored Panda article about Allison’s Baby Yoda
And, of course, I ask Allison to recommend great stuff she’s loving right now. Allison recommends: