Artists often find their inspiration in the life around them. Today the “That’s IT LA” spotlight is on Yukari Fujimoto, the visionary behind Flat Bonnie. She creates small, loveable animal masterpieces with a mission using fabric as her medium. Flat Bonnie creations came across my radar when my friend commissioned a special Flat version on my dog, Nigel, before he passed away. Here is our interview with Yukari.
Tee: Can you start off by telling us a little about yourself. What is your background?
Yukari: Originally I am from Japan. I moved to L.A. about 20 years ago, and I am still here! My work background is in Fashion Design. I worked in fashion for many years when I first moved to L.A. Ten years ago I created Flat Bonnie, a character-based brand where I make handmade art plushies.
Tee: Do you remember the first plushie you made, or favorite toy you had as a child?
Yukari: The first plush I made was the original white color, Flat Bonnie plush. I made that first plush with the hope of helping bunnies in rescues somehow. I made the first, five Flat Bonnie plushies and donated them to BunnyLuv, a Los Angeles bunny rescue. They sold the plushies to raise money for their shelter buns.
I still have a large collection of my favorite plushies from childhood. Most of them are at my family home in Japan.
My piggy plush that I have had since I was 2 years old is very important to me. She is retired and lives in her bedroom (a drawer) now, but she used to go everywhere with me.
Tee: How did Flat Bonnie come about? What inspired your business?
Yukari: I learned a lot about bunnies. and other small animals in rescues and shelters after I got my first real bunnies, Go-Go and Bon-Bon. Most people don’t know that bunnies and other small animals are in shelters and need forever homes. Every year a lot of bunnies end up dumped at parks or on the street soon after Easter. Most “Easter Bunnies” don’t live to see their first birthday.I wanted to help raise awareness of abandoned animals, and the importance of adopting, that was the inspiration for Flat Bonnie. I made Flat Bonnie (the character) white, because white bunnies are the hardest to get adopted.
A lot of people ask me about the name “Flat Bonnie.” When bunnies are relaxed and happy, they often lay down SUPER flat, like melting into the floor. My real bunny’s nickname was Bonnie Bon-Bon, so that’s where the name Flat Bonnie came from.
Tee: Tell us about your creative process when it comes to creating a plushie. How long does it take to create a plushie and what materials do you use?
Yukari: I have a long list of cute animals I want to make as Flatties. Sometimes new characters are requests from rescue organizations, or suggestions from Flattie fans.Sometimes I find a fabric that inspires me to make a specific animal that I have been thinking about. I like to use mostly fleece and vinyl pleather. I do not use any animal products in my creations. When I start a new character, I usually know what I want the plush to look like in my mind. I start with making the plush pattern, I don’t draw the character out on paper first. Creating a new character might happen in a few hours, or take a few days to get just right.
Tee: What one material, or tool can you not live without?
Yukari: Music is a must. I can work like a machine if I have the right music playing.Tee: What role do you think artists have in society especially during the past year?
Yukari: For me, I like to keep everything positive, fun and light. I’m happy if something I create, or post on my social media makes someone smile and giggle. My goal is to make someone’s day a little better.
Tee: What advice do you have for women entrepreneurs, or women who may want to start a business?
Yukari: Work hard and do your best on every project. Do what you truly believe in, and make something that you will be proud of.
Tee: What causes are important to you?
Yukari: Animal welfare. Flat Bonnie was created to help bring awareness to the life of bunnies in shelters and rescue centers. When you are ready for a new furry friend, adopt from a local shelter or rescue center.
Tee: What is next for you?
Yukari: I’m currently working on a mini, solo art show. Also, I hope to start factory production of Flat Bonnie plushies sometime soon. I really want to learn stop motion animation someday. There are so many things I want to do!
Connect with Yukari Fujimoto and Flat Bonnie here: