While plush toys are traditionally thought of as children’s playthings, the bizarre stuffed monsters of Luisa Castellanos’ handmade designer toy line, Pock-it Palz, make quirky gifts for lighthearted people of all ages.
Castellanos is a remarkable entrepreneur not only for the high quality and inventiveness of her products, but for her young age. A senior at York High School in Elmhurst, Castellanos is 17 now, and has been making Pock-it Palz since she was 11.
At first all of Castellanos’ creations were made via hand-stitching, but the fabric toy maven has since moved on to plying her great-grandmother’s sewing machine in the basement workshop of her suburban home.
Castellanos says she learned to sew in Girl Scouts and picked up some more tips from her grandmother. Her inspiration for Pock-it Palz, however, came out of a treasured childhood pastime. “When I was a kid,” she explains, “I would doodle weird little creatures. And I decided it was a different way to express my art, with sewing monsters and making them three-dimensional.”
The young designer says she is often inspired to make new toys by the people she encounters every day. “Sometimes I’ll see someone who has a really strange feature on their face, like if someone has really long eyelashes I’ll want to make something with long eyelashes.”
Castellanos rightly considers her work art with a capital A, and while the primary market for her pieces are children, she has exhibited and sold the Pock-it Palz line in art galleries across the country, from San Francisco to New York. And people of all ages have been buying.
Castellanos attributes the universal appeal of her products to the combination of their strange, stylized monster design and their multiplicity of uses. Pock-it Palz are great for kids to snuggle up with, but can also be used as pillows in offbeat home décor, or simply admired on the shelf or mantle as a DIY objét d’art. (David Wicik)
Available at Rotofugi, 2780 North Lincoln, or via Etsy, at etsy.com/shop/pockitpalz.