In Episode four, I catch up with my former classmate, Anna Hrachovec, on her experience launching Mochimochi Land, how she stays inspired and challenged, and how having a baby has changed her approach to her business.
Some background on Anna:
Anna is the founder of MochiMochi Land – a world made of incredibly cute hand-knitted toys. She designs, creates kits and patterns for yarn stores, has published five books and has done animation work featuring Mochimochi creatures for Nickelodeon. Her work has been featured across the globe (in Germany, Japan, South Korea and Denmark), on the Martha Stewart show twice, in publications like New York Magazine and the Chicago Tribune, and in countless knitting and craft blogs.
- How it started: started knitting Mochimochi Land creatures when she was working at a gallery and was inspired by others’ art. Knew right away that this was something she wanted to pursue. Then started a blog. Mochimochi Land name inspired by “mochi” – Japanese sticky rice. Mochi mochi is used as an adjective, to mean squishy and mushy.
- Japanese influence: This started with Anna’s experience hosting a Japanese foreign exchange student in middle school, always thought her care packages were neat. Then Anna was an exchange student in Japan. Fell in love with cute characters and how people appreciated them as adults.
- Taking the plunge: Took gradual approach to moving Mochimochi Land from a hobby to a business. On social media people started requesting patterns for designs. Started to realize she wasn’t in the right career path. Realized she could sell patterns online. Employer and husband encouraged her to work part-time to explore this passion, which way to transition without a much risk.
- Challenges: No clear model or mentors to follow, not a common career. It has been a challenge to find her own path and trusting her ability to find the next thing for the business.
- Growing thoughtfully – Starting small was key for flexibility. Have a good balance of steady every-day work as well open time for bigger projects like Nickelodeon work. Have an assistant but not a big staff. Getting bigger might just mean going deeper and challenging herself in new ways.
- Staying inspired – Important to take time off to explore new ideas/challenges – often this happens after hitting a burn-out point.
If you’re trying to be productive all of the time, you’re never going to get to the next idea.
- Being a new mom + business owner – it’s really hard. Realized she had worked so much more than she thought, since often times it doesn’t feel like work. Feels like time is so precious now that she puts more pressure on herself to be very productive. Scaling back to-do list and accepting a slower pace while adjusting. Lucky to have great childcare, dedicated space to work, and the right, very capable assistant.
- New approach to productivity: now will crowdsource knitting help from the community vs. doing it all herself. Make is a collaborative group project. Outcome is different but good.
Advice for others:
- Important to understand how you work. How much you like working alone, with other people, etc. and design the job that works best for you.
- Start small.
- Seek out a supportive community.
Thanks for listening to episode four. If you have a second, an iTunes review would be VERY appreciated! -Becky