Megan Yeats is the artist and entrepreneur behind Her Bunnies Three, a company selling handcrafted dolls based out of Moorhead, MN. A woman with incredible warmth, Megan is a self-taught sewer and maker who is simultaneously both goofy and badass, which made for a delightful interview.
When and how did you get started?
I’ve been sewing for forever. I think my grandma taught me when I was like twelve. Just the basics - how to thread the sewing machine - that type of thing. She’s ninety now and still sews. Her machine is like fifty years old.
I think I probably started sewing more though when my daughter was born... sewing clothes, blankets, things like that. I had made a couple of dolls, just randomly, nothing like this, because every doll you buy has some sort of hard plastic and I really wanted something soft that she could sleep with. And when they’re little like that, they’re bound to hit themselves in the face with the dolls. And that’s how I started making these, but they were smaller and way different… weirder looking (laughs). But they evolved. I’ve probably been making dolls for three years now.
I’ve always wanted to find my “thing”. I think this is my “thing”.
How did you get into making the first one for someone else?
So I had started making the soft dolls for my daughter. A friend of mine has a daughter a couple of years older than mine with an American girl doll, Kit, and in Kit’s story her neighbor makes her an Amelia Earhart doll and so my friend had asked if I could make her an Amelia Earhart doll. So that was the first one I made and sold. Afterwards she was like, “You need to sell these!”
Then I went to Unglued and talked to Ashley and she said “yeah, we’d love them!”. Unglued is amazing. So really I owe Ashley lots of things. She’s definitely part of my success, which is great and I tell her that all the time. So that’s how I started selling them there... and then I made a Facebook page. But I don’t think it really took off until I started an Instagram. I don’t even know what I did. People always ask how I have so many followers and honestly I have no idea. It just goes.
How do you decide what to make?
I just pick. I’ve got all my fabric on display in my sewing room and I’ll just pick.
Did you make the patterns yourself?
Yeah, so all the patterns are my own and like I said they’ve evolved quite a bit. I’m really happy with the pattern now. My daughter has a handful of all the dolls that were prototypes so she’s got a lot. (laughs) It takes awhile.
I don’t overthink things. I just do it. I like that about myself because so many people, like my husband, have to have everything on paper, and I just start doing it. So if I want to do a project around the house I make sure to do it when he’s at work because I know he’ll panic if he comes home and I’m in the middle of it and there’s no plan. I’ve been using this pattern now for probably two years.
How long is it from conception to finished product?
I usually make them in batches. I crank out a batch in about three days.
How many have you made?
So if you figure between 500-700 a year for three years… but that’s not even keeping track of the Paul Bunyan dolls... so yeah probably around 2,000.
They each get their own personality. Even the boys. I think the Paul Bunyan is a good one because, while I hate it, I hear the comment all the time “oh your daddy would never let you get a doll, but that’s not quite a doll”. I think a doll would teach a little boy how to care for a child.
Where do you find your materials?
I do a lot of shopping at Modern Textiles. My mom is actually a thrifter, and likes to find me cool things, too. I love anything vintage or vintage looking. And I get other supplies at the other fabric stores around town.
Describe your space.
This used to be a bedroom and I used to sew at the kitchen table and things would just fit wherever they could so it’s really nice to have a space now.
I sew in my sewing, I like to call it a studio, but whatever. It’s crowded but it works. Everything is just tucked away somewhere. I do all my cutting, and ironing, and putting together on my kitchen counter which I still think is kitschy and unique. I use it a lot in branding because it’s just where things get done. I want you to know you’re getting a handmade product, it’s sewn in my home and cut at my kitchen counter, which I just think that’s cool. It’s not commercialized at all and I wouldn’t want it to be either. It’s important to me that I make each one. I like to say that I did it.
My husband just says I like to be in control, which is true (laughs) but that’s just how it is. My husband is so supportive. I couldn’t do it if he didn’t support me. He’s crucial. And he goes to most of my craft shows, even if they’re out of town.
When do you do most of your work?
I feel like I’ve got the most drive in the morning so I try to sew in the morning as much as I can because it seems like after noon I start to fizzle. I sew whenever I need to or want to. Because it’s not only these. Now it’s summer so now I want to sew the kids some summer kids, and I’m making a quilt for our bed, and I like sew stuff for myself, too. It’s all about balance.
How did you come up with your business name?
These are my kids (points to a tattoo of three bunnies on her forearm). And that’s kind of where my business name came from. I just had this idea that I wanted three bunnies tattooed on my arm and when I had kind of started this I posted something on Facebook about how I’d like to incorporate the bunnies and somebody came up with something similar to what I now say is “Her Bunnies Three”.
What’s the best part about having your own business?
The time, being able to work when I want to or work in my pajamas. That’s probably the best. It’s nice that it’s flexible with the kids and if my husband’s out of town... I really couldn't have a 9 to 6 job. And I love just being able to do whatever I want. I’ve always sewn dolls but I’ve had other ideas where I’ve started to sew and then if they didn’t work out, I just stopped.
What’s the worst part of having your own business?
My procrastination. (laughs) I just had someone place a huge order, which is great, but it’s the kids’ first week off from school so I want to hang out with them but I have to work. But you’ll have that with any job.
Did you grow up in a creative house?
I mean, yeah. My mom was a paper plate and beads and painted spaghetti noodles so that kind of creative. My grandmother sewed a lot of clothes for us, too, but she was more practical. I think my mom’s creative but I don’t think she ever really had the time to do much. If I wasn’t a stay at home mom I don’t think I would ever have gotten into this. But having the time at Home and needing an outlet, I needed something to keep my brain busy, so I think that was a huge thing as to why I started this, too.
She and I took my sophomore year prom dress and added to it for my junior year prom so instead of buying a new one we just revamped it. I love making the kids halloween costumes and that’s something she did with us when we were younger.
What other makers are you inspired by?
There’s a woman in Australia that I really love. Her and her husband have a business called Needle and Nail. He makes woodworking things and she sews. There’s a doll maker in Washington called Sweet Littles Handmade and she’s so kind. Her stuff is so unique.
What inspires you?
That’s a hard one. I think fabric inspires me. If I’m ever at a lull or over it, I just need to go fabric shopping. My husband is like “seriously?!” but it makes me want to make new ones. And that’s huge.
They’re important to me. There’s something so valuable, especially something made out of a baby’s clothes, or a blanket, or I’ve got somebody just sent me it is some old clothes of her grandfather’s and she’s having me make a doll for her grandmother. That’s something you can't just buy. And I think i make a good quality product. And whether not they’re played with, they’ll always be held onto.
What do you hope people take away with them?
Well I think handmade is super important. You’re not only supporting a small business but getting a good quality product and I don’t think people realize how much work goes into it. I put a lot of work into them and am proud of the product. And I just want someone to love it and cherish it.
What advice do you have for other creatives?
Know how to do your taxes. My husband is like, “you can't continue to do this unless you learn to do your bookkeeping!” I don’t think about that kind of stuff. I just think of the fun part. (laughs)
My best piece of advice is just do it. If it doesn't go well you’re out of a little bit of money but if you don’t do it, you’ll regret it. You can’t overthink things. Just go for it.