Artist: Apol Lejano-Massebieau
Location: Aigues Mortes, southwest France
Web site: La Pomme, La Pomme Stories
Blog: La Pomme
What do you create?
The tag line for my first shop, La Pomme, is “toys for kids big and small.” I’m a toy-maker, making plush products out of fabrics. I have a weakness for linen, white cotton, and gingham. If you’re wondering what toys for big kids are, that would be soft sculptures, like my swans and my white fruits. I also have these things called Boxed Universes, which are teeny-tiny dioramas that I make inside tin cans or matchboxes.
How did you come up with your business name?
From my first name. I was originally called “Apple,” but for some reason at 18 I thought that that was too cloyingly sweet and changed the spelling to what it is now. I live in France and speak French 90-percent of the time, so I called my shop “La Pomme,” which is French for “The Apple.”
When and why did you decide to start your business?
This may not seem like the most professional of responses, but the truth is that I just fell in love with Etsy and wanted to be part of it. I signed up in October 2006, started really loving the site in early 2007, and by around July or August of 2007, I had set up shop.
Where do you get your inspiration for your projects?
This is a question I always find hard to answer. I don’t really know, they just come like a light bulbs turning on in my head, in the form of either a line for a story—and from that I’d create a handmade fairytale book for my bookshop—or as an image. Just the day before yesterday, this very clear image of two white cocoons hanging from a branch popped into my head, and since last night I’ve been working on transforming that into a soft sculpture using crochet.
Which of the tools you use is your favorite?
My old reliable Singer Starlet from the 1970s, with kitschy orange and yellow flowers decorating the top panel!
What keeps you motivated?
The work itself. The making of these objects give me a lot of happiness.
What would be a dream project that you’d love to work on?
A show where I’d be allowed to create a forest. It would be all in white cotton and white thread. I’d make four-legged creatures and birds. I’d crochet spider webs and white moss. There would be blades of grass made from embroidery floss. It would look absolutely magnificently ethereal!
What advice would you give to someone starting a creative business?
Have focus. I said this already in a past interview but I think it’s worth repeating here: You have to learn to control your creative exuberance and not go off in too many directions all at one. Ask yourself what your main product line or service is, and stick to that. For a while, at least. As you grow, you can branch out, but still I think it is important to have it clear in your head what you and your business are about exactly.
What's the most important thing you'd like people to know/understand about your work?
My quick goal is to make people smile. My deeper intent is for my works to help them let their imagination run free for a while.
What has been the most important lesson you've learned while running your business?
To take a break. You’ll be producing really crappy work if you’re running on empty.
If you had the time, what new craft/medium would you like to learn or use?
I’d love to have the time to learn to hand-print on fabric.
What's your definition of a perfect day?
Lots of good work done, lots of cuddling given and taken, and very good food in between!
Thank you Apol!