It’s time for another Super Cute Creators interview. Today we’re finding out a little bit more about Mollie Johanson, who creates embroidery patterns and printables as Wild Olive. She also recently released her first book, Stitch Love (read my review), full of adorable embroidery motifs and sewing projects to make with them. Read on for another inspiring look into the life of a kawaii creative!
Who are you and what do you make?
I’m Mollie Johanson, often known as Wild Olive. I think that things are better with faces, so almost everything I make has a face on it in some way or another. Most of my making involves embroidery and felt and hand sewing and a bit of quilting. Recently I’ve started making lots of cute animals (they have faces, so that totally counts, right?), and it has been so much fun to see what sweet creatures show up when I’m sketching and designing new projects.
When I have extra time, I’m still usually stitching, because I love it so much. But I also like baking, playing games, and watching old television shows.
Where do you live and what’s it’s like there?
I live in a magical cottage of creativity! Okay, so really it’s a house where my parents, brothers, and sisters also live, and it’s in a suburb of Chicago. It does feel a little magical, definitely busy and loud, and it’s almost always filled with creativity.
What was your first experience with kawaii culture and why does kawaii inspire your work?
Sanrio was probably the first major kawaii influence in my life, and I was lucky enough to have, what I called “The Hello Kitty Store” in Chicago. Little Twin Stars were my favorite, and I still have some of the Sanrio items I had as a child. Beyond that, when I was growing up, there were just a lot of really cute toys and shows that were around.
Kawaii just makes me happy, and who doesn’t want to work with things that make you happy?
What cute products can you never resist buying for yourself?
Oh man, Japanese craft books! There are so many wonderful titles, and it doesn’t matter that I can’t read Japanese, because the pictures are more than enough help for making the most kawaii projects and embroideries. Adorable stationery items are a weakness, and I barely even use them. I also love buying kawaii tees from Threadless, and since I work from home, I get to wear them all the time. I’ve been trying to get better at resisting buying vinyl figures, but they’re just so cute!
What was the first product you made/designed for sale and how does it compare to what you sell now?
I started out selling mini badges with my little illustrations. They didn’t sell all that well, but there are a few folks out there with Wild Olive pins! At that point, at least half of the characters I drew were sad or angry. I thought it was cute, and it kinda was, but now I only draw sad things every once in a while. The kawaii feeling is the same, but my artwork has improved (at least I think so!) The biggest change is that my patterns and printables are all digital.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m still in the middle of a year-long project called The 50 States Stitching Club, where I take symbols and and icons from the United States and make them cute. And stitch them. And make them into a large quilt! Lots of fun. I’m also long-overdue for some new items in my shop, so the sketchbook is in full swing.
What’s the most exciting thing that’s happened since you started your business?
Getting to write a book has definitely been the biggest thing, but every time something I create is published, I get very excited. I think it’s because it makes everything I do feel very real, legitimate, and valued.
What’s your dream ambition for your business?
Is it strange that I might be living my dream ambition? Getting to write my book, share my creations, and encourage others in their making is pretty much the greatest. So I guess I’d like to keep doing what I’m doing, write more, share more, encourage and influence more.
Who are your favourite kawaii designers and makers?
My Paper Crane was the probably the first kawaii blog that I started reading, and she’s still at the top of my list. The reluctant cat lady in me is crazy for Pusheen and The Pink Samurai. And I still love Sanrio and San-X!
Where can we find you on the internet?
For a whole lot of Wild Olive digital items, look for me on Etsy. You can find me and my free patterns, projects, and printables at my blog, and if you want lots and lots of updates, follow me on Twitter and Instagram. I try to share the cutest and craftiest moments of my day!
Thank you Mollie! Look out for more Super Cute Creator interviews soon.
All photos by Mollie Johanson
Marceline is the co-founder and editor of Super Cute Kawaii and author of The Super Cute Book of Kawaii. She also designs cute character goods as Asking For Trouble. Having visited Japan five times, Marceline is enormously inspired by all things Japanese and especially loves bunnies, space and any kind of food object with a happy face.