Suzanne Pollack is a Boston-based potter and owner of Suzaluna. A few years ago, a mutual friend connected us and we struck up a friendship. Though we’ve never actually met in person, we type to each other every day via Google chat while we work in our studios…it’s kind of like having a workmate that lives clear across the state. Curious about zanimals, her line of hand-sewn stuffed animals, I figured Suzanne would be perfect for this month’s Meet Your Maker interview.
What’s your name, business name, where are you from and where are you now located?
My name is Suzanne Pollack, I make zanimals in my home just outside of Boston. I grew up on the North Shore.
How did you get your start? Please tell me how your business went from an idea to what it is today.
I have a huge collection of knee socks. It pains me to throw them out when they only had a hole in the knee and the rest is still perfectly good. When my horse lovin’ friend had a birthday I used the worn knee sock stash to make her a horse. After that I made a “Disco Zebra”. There were so many creatures of cuteness to make and I had so many socks! Thus, the zanimals were born.
What inspires you to create?
I am a total animal nut. I have to stop and talk to every dog I pass on the street. I don’t have a dog of my own yet but I daydream about who that pupster is going to end up being when I do get him. My love for animals combined with my desire to play with color, pattern and texture is what makes me keep making these little guys.
What are your favorite materials or colors to work with?
I love vintage 60’s and 70’s fabrics. I’m always drawn to strong geometric patterns. Rex Ray is one of my favorites. I also love stripes and argyle is pretty cool too.
Where is your studio/work area and what is it like?
My “studio” is my living room. I’ve got baskets of socks, yarn, buttons, and fabric everywhere. When it’s time to make a zanimal, I surround myself with socks and pick out which combination of colors and patterns is speaking to me at the time. Then I usually sit on the couch and listen to records while sewing up the newest addition to the zanimal zoo.
What do you do when not at work in your studio?
Making zanimals sadly does not pay the rent. For my daytime job, I own and run a small pottery business called Suzaluna. I make personalized pottery for new babies, weddings, birthdays, pets, etc. If I’m not zanimal-making or painting pottery, I’m probably knitting, making jewelry or day-tripping with a zanimal or two for my blog where I take the zanimals on adventures in and out of the city.
What are the top 3 reasons someone should stop by your Etsy shop or visit you at an event?
- If you see the zanimal Etsy page or stop by my zanimal table at a show, you are guaranteed to smile. The zanimals can’t help it. They make you smile, especially at shows where you can actually touch them, look into their button eyes, or maybe make them boogie to the music a little bit. Even if someone doesn’t buy one, it’s really fun to see people’s reactions to them, especially kids. That’s the best.
- The zanimals are made from both new, clean recycled materials and they’re totally handmade. I put a little bit of heart and soul into every one of these animals. They’re quite time consuming and I only make one at a time. I spend a lot of time getting to know each one of them while they’re being created. The hands that created these guys made them with 100% love. Yes, there are a ton of really cute stuffed animals that you can get for a lot less money but they’re most likely made in China and they are definitely not filled with love.
- Lastly, I donate a portion of every zanimal sale to one of three animal charities I like to give to. I wish I could rescue many homeless animals and give them the loving home they deserve…but while I am living in a tiny apartment with no yard, I have to find other ways to help!