From three-eyed leopards to strawberry cream giraffes, the creative minds behind Tigersheep Friends love illustrating off-beat versions of animals to keep their artistic passions alive, said Sarah Walsh.
When the husband-and-wife duo started the company in 2011, they were looking for an alternate creative outlet, said Sarah Walsh, co-founder of the online product line.
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“I loved my job at Hallmark, but I really needed something to call my own and to have a purpose. It’s fun to make something … And you’re like, ‘I don’t know, maybe someone else will like it.’ So you put it up online,” she said about the couple’s quirky designs that are sold on Etsy as well as at select retail shops.
The name “Tigersheep” bounced across a conversation with friends, said co-founder Colin Walsh before they realized the juxtaposition would be an apt name for their company.
Though Tigersheep is their “side hustle,” sales of their products have been booming, he said.
“We try to put in as many hours as we can and burn the midnight oil. Slowly, we’ve started receiving more and more orders from all over the world,” Colin Walsh said, recalling that the couple sold 67 pieces of their best seller, the three-eyed leopard design.
The two product designers-turned entrepreneurs found creative inspiration in each other before they got married, said Sarah Walsh.
“I was always into graphic design and I always drew even when I was a kid, but I hadn’t done it in a while. And she made me remember why I wanted to be an artist in the first place,” Colin Walsh said.
Tigersheep Friends partners with a Los Angeles based company called Printful, which produces their illustrations on everyday products like coffee mugs, T-shirts, pillows and tote bags, he said.
“When we make art we keep in mind that this tiger style pillow will be on somebody’s couch brightening up their homes or this Dire Wolf painting will be on somebody’s wall,” the founders said, completing each other’s sentences.
Craft fairs like Strawberry Swing in Kansas City give artists more exposure and opportunities for community building, said Colin Walsh.
“Just going to these pop up shops and Strawberry Swing, we’re building our brand. We have fans now that come by our booth, and they’re really stoked about the fun orange on the bike, or the fun new pillows that we’re making,” Colin Walsh said.
This story was produced through a collaboration between Missouri Business Alert and Startland News.