I've always admired Linda's tile pendants. How did this Etsy NY team collaboration come about?
I loved Linda’s whimsical style and colorful products from the first time I saw them at a holiday market in a church in Brooklyn in 2010. In 2011 we were both selling in the Etsy NY shop at Celebrate Brooklyn!, and later that summer she started making the Scrabble tile pendants with my designs for Bugged Out. We sell a lot of the pendants.
Which products--not designs--sell best?
Some days we sell lots of totes, other days lots of onesies or tees. And then there are seasonal differences--we sell more hoodies when it’s cooler. But overall all our product lines sell well.
With the banning of the use of plastic bags in more and more places around the country, we get more and more requests for our totes.
Again, you're right in step with the times. Is running BO now a full-time job?
When I started Bugged Out, it was as a side business and mostly on weekends. But it has grown so much that Gerd (the other half of Bugged Out and a solar engineer by profession) and myself nowadays both work full time running Bugged Out.
Congratulations! I know it's a lot of work, but it has to be incredibly rewarding to go from one design for a fundraising walk to a highly visible brand.
It is very rewarding, you’re so right. The fulfillment is all worth it. Plus, it’s lots of fun!
You've had some celebrity customers. Can you share the names of the celebs and what they purchased?
We are happy to have the occasional well-known customer at Bugged Out. Among them are Adam Sandler (t-shirts), Steven Tyler(cockroach stuff), Michael Moore (bumblebee tote), Chelsey Handler (grasshopper hoodie), Bethanny Frankel (many hoodies, she’s a repeat customer), Bobby Flay and his wife Stephanie March (t-shirts), SuChin Pak (onesies), Christine Quinn (t-shirts, also a repeat customer). And David Bowie!!
David Bowie. Nice! I believe I heard something about Angelina Jolie buying a tote bag. Is that true?
Well, almost. The set designer for the movie “SALT” bought it. Angelina Jolie’s husband in the movie is a bug expert and has it in his home office. Yeah, that was cool! Now we have a lot of ant business from that.
So many entrepreneurs strive for film product placement and you did it without even trying.
And all of this attention from celebrities and the media was a result of doing markets and street fairs?
Yes, thanks! It’s really nice when celebrities come by and shop and compliment me on my designs.
For sure. There's a strategic element to doing markets. I'm still trying to figure out which ones work best. How do you approach doing markets? What have you learned?
We tried a couple of different regular markets as well as some of the big street fairs when we first started. Over time we learned what works for us, factoring in things like neighborhoods, foot traffic, logistics (transportation and storage of our merchandise, hours, parking), and the cost of markets or events. We currently do a regular market in SoHo almost every Friday/ Saturday/ Sunday (weather permitting) and a market at the South Street Seaport most Saturdays and Sundays. In addition, we do some big once-a-year events. Right now we’re also in the Etsy NY shop at Celebrate Brooklyn! with 16 other Etsy NY members. And during the holiday season we do the Holiday Market at Columbus Circle.
How are the two of you in so many places at once? Do you have extra help?
Currently we don’t have extra help; it is just us handling everything, so we’re usually only in two places at a time. We do a couple of shared events where we don’t have to be there ourselves all the time like Celebrate Brooklyn! for the last three seasons and Governor’s Island last summer.