No two toys are the same

By Hannah Norton

One Whangarei woman is making custom soft toys - but with a twist. They are exact replicas of children's drawings.

Sarah Gomes' company is called Happy as Larry, and she makes "soft toys and other soft products based on kids' original drawings".

"As far as I know I am the only one doing it here."

The Onerahi resident got the idea in August 2010 and then used drawings completed by her three daughters - Emmanuelle 5, Emelia, 8, and Isobella, 12 - to create her first 'softies', which are now her demonstration pieces.

"It's pretty much a preservation of some really cool artwork," she said.

She currently has a stall at the Artisan's Fair and sometimes at the Waipu boutique markets.

"When I do markets and get myself out there, business is good. But I would like to get into the Auckland specialty markets."

She's also launched a Facebook page and said it's enabled her to reach customers out of the Whangarei region.

"I can pretty much do any picture. I've only ever had to say once, 'I'm sorry - I can't do that'.

"That's why I love Happy as Larry - I never make the same thing twice."

She said the pricing isn't an exact science as every piece is different.

"I quote on an individual basis once I've seen the drawing - the price depending on the amount of detail in the drawing, the number of colours, the form they want and if a toy - the size."

Her main business goal is to provide "consistent income for my family", as well as doing art full-time - and not just the softies.

"I like to have my finger in all sorts of creative pies," she said, which includes wall art, jewellery, framed elaborate paper collages and hand painted furniture.

"I'd love to see my stuff in New Zealand design stores - I think a lot of the stuff I do is unique and I always make sure it's finished beautifully."

Business has been slightly hindered by a fall she had a fortnight ago, spraining both her ankles badly. "I can't use a sewing machine pedal at the moment but I hope to be back to work tomorrow," she laughed.

"I think I'll be able to sew in two weeks, but I've been commissioned to do a frame for a wedding gift so I'll just sit down and work at that."

- Northland Age

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