Handmade Cashmere Dolls by Snuggly Ugly

You know I’m a sucker for all things upcycled. Taking something that is headed to the landfill and giving it a new life is not only eco-friendly, but also a creative process that can yield amazing results. Snuggly Ugly takes it to the next level: they transform the pain that comes from a shrunken cashmere or wool sweater into fun, adorable toys and accessories for little ones. Meet Mr. Flaco:

Mr. Flaco Upcycled Cashmere Doll by Snuggly Ugly

Only about 10 dolls are created using the same design, and they are all unique as they are handmade. All of Snuggly Ugly’s munchkins share some core features: they’re incredibly soft, 100% huggable, and full of personality. This is Kiki.

Kiki Cashmere monster pillow handmade by Snuggly Ugly

Indira Villalobos started Snuggly Ugly in collaboration with her husband. He was the initial instigator – he gave Indira a sewing machine as a present, and Indira went to work. The material she used on her first project? A shrunken wool sweater. In February 2012, she began to sell her line of upcycled toys and accessories for kids. Check out this sweet ‘baby elf’ hat:

Upcycled Cashmere Baby Hat by Snuggly Ugly

Indira tells us more about the Snuggly Ugly story, their upcoming anniversary, and her endless list of things to do in Carroll Gardens.

How & when did Snuggly Ugly open for business?

Four months after my daughter was born during Hurricane Irene (another story entirely), as I settled into motherhood, I decided to chase my dream of starting my own company. The story began with two Christmas gifts: a sewing machine from my husband and a cashmere hat for our daughter that was made from a repurposed sweater. This led to my first project, a monster I made for our daughter with my husband’s accidentally shrunken sweater. That is how Snuggly Ugly was born.

How did you come up with the concept of the lovely (and ugly!) snuggly dolls?

When I first started creating monsters, I was making cashmere bodies with wool felted faces. As most know, cashmere is a very soft premium material. The strange and mysterious faces I was creating were a really strong contrast to the soft cashmere, so I wanted a name to reflect that contrast.

I sat and brainstormed with my husband and we came up with the name Snuggly Ugly. My husband, who is a motion designer, loved it because he could already envision what the logo would look like. Simple and clean typography using two colors to create the appearance of two words with one. Also, just looking at the logo, one could also just see the word “Snuggly” which really represents the rest of my products because they really aren’t ugly at all. Ugly is a strong word and as the famous expression goes for beauty the same goes for ugly: it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

Why recycle materials for your products?

I think it is important to decrease the demand for new materials by using recycled materials. There is too much stuff in the world already and people throw away perfectly useful items everyday. It’s a great message to send to kids that you can reuse things outside of their original purpose and this is what we do with repurposed cashmere sweaters at Snuggly Ugly.

Did you have a favorite doll when you were little?

I used to love Barbies like many girls back then. In first grade, my friends and I spent long hours creating houses out of shoes boxes for our Barbies. We invented long, complicated stories!

What are Snuggly Ugly’s plans for 2013?

To celebrate our first anniversary on February, I’m working on a new limited edition dolls “Argyle Munchkins”. I will be adding new products to the accessories line and I hope to continue to evolve and grow Snuggly Ugly but keep the small-studio uniqueness which sets Snuggly Ugly apart from mass-produced products.

You live in Carroll Gardens. What are your favorite neighborhood spots?

I love it here! There is so much to do in Brooklyn. I love Carroll Park because all the neighborhood kids go there and our daughter just loves to interact with all of them. Prospect Park in the summer, I love to go for a bike ride on the weekends.

My favorite kids store is Acorn, they have the most beautiful and unique handmade toys. Cobble Hill Cinema for a movie, especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays when you can go for $7 a ticket. I just love the small-town local movie theater feel that this place has.

Clover Club for a good glass of wine and delicious small plates. Brooklyn Social, a speakeasy-style bar where the bartenders are not called bartenders but ‘mixologists’, and drinks are extremely well made. And, of course, Lucali’s for arguably the best crispy and full-of-flavor pizza in the city.

You can find Snuggly Ugly’s handmade cashmere dolls and accessories at the Brooklyn Makers Store.