[Fergus] Didn’t realise you started off with hand sculpting and given the background you have said, it makes sense. Do you have any photos of those models or are they still part of your line-up in spirit?
[Meesh] Oh yeah, I definitely still have some of the old hand sculpts around! I’ll attach a couple of photos of them from waaaay back when. The original small and slim Aelit were both hand sculpted, as well as the original small and large Batou. We’ve moved away from the hand sculpted Aelits, but our small Batou is still the original sculpt! It’s had its surface remastered recently by way of making a resin copy to smooth a little better, but it’s still the original hand sculpt. Also, ALL of the current egg models are hand sculpted, which is why they’re due for an update. Looking back through my archive reminded me that I actually did a lot more hand sculpting than I remembered XD
[Fergus] What are the best and worst bits of running SBF?
[Meesh] Best bits are things like getting to work closely with my very good friends making fun stuff for people to enjoy! There are days when put on our favorite music and have all day sing-alongs or we just tell jokes and tell funny stories all day long and man, those are great days! We work so well together and the fact that I can support my friends while they support me and we build this business together is just freakin excellent! It’s also so amazing when people share how much they enjoy our work. The fact that our art can bring so much happiness to people is just so great!
I’d say the worst bits are dealing with customers who have unrealistic expectations that I have to address (thankfully these instances are very rare). I have pretty bad social anxiety, so customer service always makes me anxious. Other than that, I’d say that it’s been hard having no work/life balance these past 3 years. The business has expanded into every available space in my life. It’s taken over most of my very small house and eats my free time like a ravenous beast. I love the job, but it’s exhausting. I’m looking forward to the day when I can actually assert some boundaries with my work.
[Fergus] I believe this Pandemic has really been a boon for toymakers, myself included. I was talking to Kris (Pleasure Forge) a while ago about it and she has said about their business growth in terms of drop quantity of 50-200 items. You’ve said you have also seen an increase and had to take on staff, have there been any other positive outcomes related to COVID which you have experienced?
[Meesh] It’s very hard to talk about positive outcomes from COVID without feeling a lot of guilt along with it. This has been hard on everyone in many different ways. We did see an increase! We went from drops of about 150-200 every 3 weeks to drops of 250-400 every 2 weeks and that’s a LOT of work! But it’s given me an opportunity to figure out how to scale my business for growth and figure out what to aim for in the coming years. It’s also been very nice and comforting to know that this business has afforded opportunities for Steve, Avery, and myself to make a living wage in a safe way during this pandemic. We don’t have to work with the public and can keep quarantine without having to worry about paying our bills. That’s the best thing I could have hoped for. The success has also allowed me enough space in my budget to do things like make donations to food banks and non-profits trying to help people during these hard times, so that’s a nice feeling as well.
[Fergus] Of all your items you have made, all those hundreds over the last year, are there any which stand out in your memory? if so, how come?
[Meesh] Oh, absolutely! There are pours I remember vividly! A couple of customs I was really proud of, some absolutely gorgeous pastel pours with lots of ripples in them, and stunning marbles of neon colors. They’re usually pours that were accidentally technical in ways I could not replicate if I tried. There’s also a specific toy that Steve made very early in his career that I just fell in love with. I almost didn’t sell it, but I broke down and put it in a drop. It sold, but I was able to tell the customer that if they ever got tired of it and wanted to sell it, I’d buy it back. They did end up selling it to me and i put it up on my display shelf because I just loved it so dang much! It wasn’t anything terribly fancy, but it was a really nice pour from him very early on and i still really enjoy it!
[Fergus] Your toppers were one of the most interesting toy appearances in the market, can you tell me the story behind how they came to life?
[Meesh] Ha ha! That’s so kind of you to say! I really didn’t think people would really be that interested in them, so the popularity was definitely a surprise to me! We had already made vibe sleeves and I remember talking with my friend Stephanie who ran a local brick-and-mortar sex shop here in town about different stuff we could make in the future. She stocked some of the wand heads made by Vixen and I remember seeing them and thinking “You know, I’ll bet we could make something like that but with a fantasy twist!”
The prototype was actually just the top of Ziq’s model (the ridge of fingers), but it ended up being WAY too big to use right. I still have the prototype and it looks very odd. Then we put it on the back burner for almost half a year before revisiting it with some new design ideas. The designs themselves sorta came to me as I started working on them, and there you go!
[Fergus] If I gave you a big pile of cash right now for SBF growth, how would you spend it?
[Meesh] How big are we talking, here? If I had a big hunk of cash I’d probably spend it on getting our new workshop space finished up and furnished ASAP. I’d also give pay raises to the crew and hire on an extra person or two and pay them well. That’s all super boring, but I’m very excited by the prospect of paying people enough that they can make this a full time job and grow with the company! I’d also be happy to find more artists to work with both for 2D and 3D work. You know, standard boring business stuff, ha ha!
[Fergus] What should we expect to see from SBF in the near future?
[Meesh] A bigger workshop!! Crossing fingers we’ll have that all ready to roll by summer time! With extra space comes places to put more molds which means NEW MODELS! I’ve got some on my sketchpad that I really want to bring to the shop this year. But in the immediate future I’m hoping we can get our remastered eggs in the shop by April. They were sculpted and ready to print last year, but then the pandemic sort of put a damper on a LOT of plans. So I’m hoping this is the year we can get back to making new, exciting things! Also stickers and maybe some squishie designs…
[Fergus] Who would you recommend to us checkout as an up and coming maker? (if any)
Oh, hot dang there are so many new cool shops! It’s really hard to keep track of them all. I’m excited by the stuff I know my friends over at Dirty Birdie Toys are doing (https://dirtybirdytoys.com/
). They do a lot of really rad technical stuff that takes so much patience and research. Of course, seeing Paladin Pleasure Sculptors and Fantasy Grove absolutely kill it with their custom pours has been a delight! I’ve got my eyes on you, of course, my fellow green and purple friend. Your sculpts are killer and only getting better with each new model. There’s so many more that it’s hard to mention them all! Creature Feature, The Wicked Hunt, Loot Cave, Frisky Labz, Salty Doggo, the list goes on!
[Fergus] With all the amazing makers around these days, who would you say is your favourite at the moment or maybe, what is your favourite toy?
[Meesh] Dang, this is a really hard question. There’s so much good stuff on the indie market these days! I have too many favorite makers to pick just one, but I will say that the toy I’ve loved the most lately is my Trex Erect from Kudu Voodoo. I have the same model in multiple sizes and firmnesses and it just hits all the right buttons for me. And their eye for colors at KV is just superb! I’ve never been disappointed with my buys from KV.
[Fergus] For those interested in seeing your work and want to know more, where is best to direct them?
Oh gosh, well my dildo work is all on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/strangebedfella
The shop also has an instagram that I haven’t updated in over a year and probably won’t any time soon because I don’t have the dang time in my day to manage it.
I have a personal Twitter for my art not related to the shop, but I don’t feel the need to post it because i like to keep things small over there. Nothing exciting, really XD