Meet the Makers: Kelly and Spencer Shull of Jellykoe

JAN 15, 2018 updated Jun 2, 2021
Graveyard Gang by Jellykoe

Gather ’round you ghouls, meat-heads, pizza lovers and everyone in between! This week’s maker series is headed to Columbia, SC to meet husband and wife duo Spencer and Kelly Shull of their designer toy company, Jellykoe. Working seamlessly to bring their wildly adorable monsters to the masses, Jellykoe’s original prints, enamel pins and plush pillows can be found both globally in print media and galleries and at art festivals across the United States. While Spencer acts as lead product designer and illustrator for Jellykoe, Kelly is in charge of production, design and marketing. Join us today as we sit down with Kelly to see how she and Spencer utilize Spoonflower to bring their unique vision to life. 

Our day starts with:

“We wake up, check emails and get packages out the door, then run any errands before having lunch. We do our creative work in the evening, and keep horribly late hours.

Kelly in the studio making Jellykoe’s Pizza Lovers and Kid Beefy plush art pillows

When we’re in our studio, we feel:

“It’s great when both of us are in our workspaces toiling away on various projects. We both feel accomplished and love showing works in progress to each other, and getting each others feedback. Then at the end of the day we each run down the list of things we got finished that day. Staying in the workspace helps keep us motivated and free from distractions.”

I fell in love with making goods when:

“I taught myself to sew after I graduated college, and since then, I’ve loved sewing everything from clothes to toys. Some of the first toys I made were presents for our nieces, and it made me really proud to be able to give something that I made myself.

Kelly in the Jellykoe studio

Who or what influences or inspires your work and why? 

“We love collecting toys, both new and old, but vintage style plush, vintage cartoons and advertising illustrations are a huge influence for our style and design. We also have so many talented friends in the creative field, it’s really a constant motivation to continue to better ourselves.”

What’s in your toolbox as a maker?

“Spencer is always doodling and coming up with new monsters. His Kuretake brush pen is his go-to drawing tool.  I love my Viking sewing machine and my variety of scissors. We both use Photoshop to color and format designs.”

The Jellykoe art pillow crew. Which one will you pick?!

Our proudest accomplishment over the last year is:

“We had the opportunity to work with several artists in bringing their designs to 3D plush form, either with their own artwork or with Spencer re-imagining their characters. It was so fun to do collaborations like that, and we hope there will be more to come!”

What piece of your wardrobe best represents your style?

“I have a pair of all-over print unicorn leggings that I love. They’re fun, quirky, and cute. Spencer loves to wear horror movie t-shirts, and I think between the two of us, we cover the cute and the creepy, which is exactly the recipe for Jellykoe.”

L to R: Jellykoe’s studio assistant, a plethora of vinyl toy inspiration and the Hard Shell art pillow

Before starting a small business, I wish someone had told me:

“You won’t be good at this at first, but it’s ok to fail sometimes. It’s how you learn what works. Being successful has a lot to do with perseverance, and sometimes you have to give up your preconceived notions of what your business “should” be, and learn to grow and adapt over time.”

How does Spoonflower meet your business needs?

“We first discovered Spoonflower when we were searching for a particular fabric we envisioned for a plush project. We couldn’t find anything like it, so we designed and printed it ourselves. After seeing the enormous potential, we quickly looked for other ways to incorporate Spoonflower fabrics into our business. People loved our art and our plushies, so we wanted to streamline our products and put the art directly onto the fabric. Spoonflower has really helped us grow our business.”

Mini Monsters: Spindy Webbs and Wolfgang by Kelly and Spencer Shull of Jellykoe

What has been an important resource to you as a small business owner and why?

“Square is the best app that we use. It allows us to take credit cards at any time, which is great for us since we travel the country doing shows. It also keeps inventory and tracks sales, as well as providing graphs about what products are most popular.”     

My favorite Spoonflower textile to work with is:

Basic Cotton Ultra. You really can’t go wrong with a cotton!  It’s so versatile, the colors pop, and it’s easy to wash, iron, and sew.”


Keep up with Kelly, Spencer and the whole gang of Jellykoe monsters by following them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.  For one-of-a-kind artwork, be sure to bookmark their online shop full of plush, art prints and original drawings.

 

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