Anne-Claire Regan (@hiboudesigns) came to America from France 18 years ago, moved to Boston 12 years ago, and opened an Etsy shop for her handmade crafts eight years ago. Yet the most significant milestone for Regan, 41, may have come around three years ago, when she was finally able to make a living selling her embroidery, plush animals, and enamel pins. Her popular Instagram account has no doubt helped her turn HibouDesigns (named for the French word for “owl”) into a career.
Q. How did you get into
A. I started originally making greeting cards. I was embroidering paper and incorporating fabric, and then I discovered felts. At the same time, I met a group of people online who were making plush dolls, and we became friends. That’s when I started to switch over to making dolls, primarily with felt and materials I got from my grandma and mom back in France. This January, I wanted to reach more people, so I started to adapt some of my designs into enamel pins.
Q. How do you make the pins?
A. When I design a plush toy or doll, I always sketch first. I give [the manufacturer] the sketch and they transfer it into the digital version, create a mold for it, and it’s delivered to me as an enamel pin. It’s quite fabulous to see your design translated into something so fun.
Q. Are there any other mediums you’d like to try?
A. I started to make key chains that I will debut at the first show I’m doing, the SoWa Winter Festival. I would love to make socks; I love silly socks. Mugs would be fun, too.
Q. You describe your work as “whimsical, colorful, smile-inducing creations.” Why do you like making
art in that style?
A. I think it’s going back to my childhood and being fascinated by children’s books — looking at the illustrations and how colorful they all were, and loving this childlike enthusiasm for everything whimsical. I grew up in a household full of art, so colors have always been a big part of my life. I’m always happy to see people’s reaction; their first reaction is usually to smile. So I always try to continue in that vein.
Q. Has the Instagram helped
A. All my traffic is from Instagram — from people that I meet [too], but mainly from Instagram. I get a little worried because Instagram seems to be changing a little bit.
Q. In what way?
A. They’ve been rolling out that feature lately where, when you click on somebody’s account, you have this little thing pop up that says “similar accounts.” That’s always a bit scary because people have a short attention span and if you want to retain their attention this is a definite distractor. I feel like the main asset of Instagram is the community. I’ve met incredible, like-minded people in the plush or enamel pin world, and we just talk and chat and support each other.Terence Cawley can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @terence_cawley