Monday, December 13, 2010

Goodwill & Mascots

Balls - ReGifted - Phoenix Theater

 A mascot is a true community goodwill gesture.

Sir CC/ Cleveland Cavaliers

....and during the holiday season, they give a nice big bounce of fun to the street life, events & games that fill up the many moments of celebration & cheer.

Bud Beer - Griffins Hockey

 Happy Hols!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Might Mouse was my first really big crush.

I must have been destined to make mascots with a love history like that!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mascots as Community Organizers

Where does community spontaneously happen? Where do we bump shoulders with strangers? Where do we just get silly!

When we're in the presence of a mascot, that's where!

Where mascots are, a community emerges. People gather. 

Roche Diagnostics - Accu-Chek Peforma insulin meter at diabetes camp in Venezuela
It doesn't take great talent, superior intellect or an educated eye to joke, to have fun and to pass the time of day in the presence of a mascot. When a mascot is around we have a reason to connect.

A mascot is the perfect, goofy and generous host.

While we may think a mascot is merely a marketing tool, really, a mascot is a hand extended in community. 
Any organization that puts in the long hours of imaginative, strategic planning, design collaboration and dollars into a mascot program is really holding out their hand in joy, trust and community.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

9/11 & Billy Blazes

I got a call from a guy at Fisher - Price at the end of July, 2001. 
Fisher-Price had some action heroes, The Rescue Heroes. They wanted a mascot of Billy Blazes - the fireman character for the rescue heroes. They were planning a big Rescue Hero event at FAO Schwartz or Toys R Us - I don't quite remember. 

We made the mascot and sent it off. It must have been the end of August 2001.
The mascot was very popular ---all of the  Rescue Heroes were very popular.

Then the planes flew into the World Trade Center Towers on 9/11.

Billy Blazes became a symbol of faith and hope for young children in 2001.

A popular action figure became a beacon of hope and bravery.

We have never had a mascot experience like the Billy Blazes experience.

It was an honor to make the mascots. It was also a touching moment to work with Fisher-Price.

In working with and creating mascots for companies, organizations and teams, I always get a sense of their true tenderness and goodwill. In working with Fisher-Price in September of 2001, I came to know the soft, beating hearts that are at the core of all great companies.

James Beaver making hats

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Gotta love where you work

Location, location, location!

The cow chairs, Karen, and lotsa pipes & wheels
AvantGarb is in the coolest building in the United States, and Turner Woodard is a pretty cool landlord, as well.

Our building, The Stutz Business Center is an old, car factory. Stutz Bearcats used to be made here---if you look in the upper left corner, you can see fragments of the old factory workings --lotsa pipes and wheels.

It's good for the soul, and really good for business to like the place you work in.....and I like the where I work. The location, and, of course, the work!!!!

The building was designed to be a place where real, tangible objects are made. It was also designed to be a place that holds ideas and innovation. 

Mascots, Mascots, Mascots!!!!

Taking photos in out swell studio! Garry & Natasha  

Thursday, July 29, 2010

When the mascots show up you know you're gonna have fun!!!!!

Sports are all about the mascots....well, for mascot makers, they are.

Indianapolis Indians games are for seeing Rowdie's, latest schtick.

When Reggy, The Purple Party Dude makes the scene, I'm there
 Fluffy, AvantGarb's mascot sometimes mimes advice to the pitcher.
...and if your fluent in mascotese, you know the advice is
  • Loosen Up 
  • Have Fun and 
  • Focus
Good advice for pretty much all occasions!

Mascot Gurus! Mascots Rock! 

When the mascots show up you know you're gonna have fun!!!!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sequins on the Braces!

Getting the braces off is a BIG DEAL 
Sing the Debond song with the Glamorous Orthodontist.
...and check out Dr. Jill Bruno Orthodontics

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Braces with Bling

The Glamorous Orthodontist has lots of bling on her teeth.

She just arrived at her home in Chevy Chase, MD.

  • Her braces are silver sequins with holographic, sliver fabric on really big teeth.
  • She has a big, fabulous necklace
  • Big, red fingernails, of course!
  • A big lab coat with big pockets & big buttons
  • ....and ohmygoodness what a hairdo - Big Hair!
The  BrunoSmiles mascot will entertain current patients and usher in new patients. She will be present at do-good events and clinics. She will promote good orthodontic health and habits.

The Glamorous Orthodontist will be a true, community liaison for Bruno Orthodontics.

This mascot doesn't have a name yet. Any ideas?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mascot Jimmy Choos

Mascot shoes are gems. The shoes above are a pair of baseball shoes for a mascot. 

They are our Jimmy Choos.

There is only one person at AvantGarb who really understands the physics & engineering of a mascot shoe. That person is Amanda Baily. She is the Choo Champion!!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Biz, Blessings & a Martini

AvantGarb has been a growing, productive business for a really long time.
I started AvantGarb in my Berkeley, California garage when my youngest daughter was about 3 months old.

From the start, AvantGarb has been profitable and the dollars have increased through the years.

AvantGarb is a real, ongoing operation.

Even though we have been making money, and AvantGarb has been paying mortgages & rent for me and my employees for years. We have been buying shoes, clothing children, sending them to college getting our hair done and eyebrows tamed, I still sometimes think, it could be over tomorrow.

This is crazy thinking.

When I am sitting with a curved needle, stitching yellow muppet fleece to green muppet fleece, I have taken to counting my blessing.

Here are some of them:
  • I have a really grand family. They keep me involved and interested in their lives. My husband is funny, handsome and sexy. My daughters are gorgeous and glorious.
  • I  love my biz - making fuzzy critters that add a great dollop of fun to the landscape.
  • I've traveled everywhere--okay, not everywhere, but a lot of places - Kenya, India, China, Mexico, Mexico, Mexico, Taiwan, Egypt, and oh yeah, Europe. I feel fluent in the world. I like to be places where I can't speak the language.
  • ... however, I can speak Spanish, stutter through French and be polite in Swahili
  • I love going to church on Sundays, singing hymns w/ the congregation, listening to the sermon and being blessed for the coming week with the benediction.
  • I love reading the New York Times and napping on couch on Sunday afternoons.
  • I have gotten bit of fame for doing what I do.
  • ...and right now I'm listening to the general chatter in the studio as Angie drafts patterns for a very round Chipmunk, Tasha finishes some braces for the teeth of an orthodontist's mascot (sequins w/ holographic silver) and Amanda finishes 3 pairs of baseball shoes for the round Chipmunk!
  • Every Monday I look forward to the week ahead.
  • Every Friday I come home to a really good martini.
I am truly blessed. I have imagined my life, and it became real.

I suspect the story of other small biz people is similar.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Introducing the GarbGang

Welcome to Mascotland!

Garry Chilluffo, who has photographed AvantGarb's mascots for a million years, came by, the other day, and clicked away.

Above, center front is most of the GarbGang.

Next, that's me w/ Carlos Sosa  we've been riffing on graphics, webpage design and general stuff & schtick for AvantGarb since the beginning.

Natasha Heines is placing one of her hand-painted eyes on the inner structure of a mascot. She's a costume shop craft-person wizard.

Tonie Smith knows mascots and how they go together. She was a costumer for Phantom of the Opera - now she's with AvantGarb.

Angie Malone is a total theater nerd and a costume savant. She's worked in NYC, Colorado and, of course, Indiana! She designs for theater absolutely all of the time and is part of the Garb Gang.

David Orr got his degree in philosophy. Now he has a theater company - the Sapphire Theater and a business. He also makes interior structures (skeletons) for our mascots.

Amanda Baily makes the mascot Jimmy Choos. She's also great a really good mascotland tweeter. The 140 characters sing for her.

Missing is the fabulous James Beaver - a true mascot making star. He's wandered off to NY and LA for years at a time, but                 always finds his way back to AvantGarb.

Also missing is Karen Witting, who is the Mascotland EMS, the Bionic Cat and our Apple  IT guy, the Bionic Cat, Stephen Cranfill - who keeps us technically in tune, and Duncan Alney whose company, Firebelly who keeps this baby boomer virtually social.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Efficiency is Overrated

We live in a world of fuzz, fluff, foam and googlie eyes at AvantGarb. Efficiency doesn't rule. The ease of collaboration rules.

When designing and producing a new mascot, we dedicate loads of time to ponder a seam, contemplate a collar, engineer and re-imagine the interior structure.

The mascoteers at AvantGarb work together on all aspects of the mascot. The head needs to work with the body, the legs need to meet the shoes the shoes the clothes need to be mascot-scaled....and don't even get me started on the hats! We're big on millinery!

Yet, after all of the conversation, contemplation and creative collaboration, the mascots always ship on time

We are, after all, great character builders.

Friday, March 19, 2010

One Handsome, Trustworty Mascot

Billy Blazes was a big toy for Fisher-Price in 2001. Fisher-Price ordered one, and then about 2 weeks later ordered 6 more.

Billy Blazes was a well put together mascot - great hat, great body, jacket - and oh my goodness, look at the shoes!!!...and the face, kind, trustworthy and handsome. No wonder the toy was such a hit!

He was one of the Rescue Heroes. A marvelous team of toys.

It was exciting to be making Billy Blazes. He is a fireman. We were actually in production making him on 9/11. What a great toy to give comfort to children.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shoot the Breeze - March Madness

Hey mascot performers and athletic marketing people! Come by and visit AvantGarb when you're in town for the Big Ten and the Final Four. Come see where mascots are made!

Does your mascot needs a quick repair? Are you are thinking about getting a new mascot? Do you want something changed in your current mascot? 

..or just come to shoot the breeze and tell tales of mascot adventures and mishaps!
AvantGarb's studio is just a few blocks away from all of the action. We'll keep the fridge stocked w/ beer & diet coke. The coffee is always fresh and there will be something delicious to nibble.

We're in the Stutz Building. We make mascots where the Stutz Car Company used to make cars. We have industrial sewing machines where there used to be drill presses.We have rolls of fuzz & fluff and feather boas. I'm not sure there were any feather boas around in the 30s, when Henry Stutz was building cars. 

Our mascot, Fluffy, will greet you. She's big, she's pink and she has an enormous tutu!

The Stutz Building is huge. It takes up a whole city block. Its on Capital between 10th & 11th Sts. We face Capitol in Building B. 

Here's the address:
212 W. 10th St
Studio B-295
Indianapolis, IN 46202

Phone: 800/636-9562

We're always rooting for the mascots!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Red Carpet

The Golden Globes are on tonight! 

The gowns are grand. I always look at the seams, check out the structure, the colors, the ruffles, the frills and the dazzle.

I dream of a mascot awards show, complete with red carpet.

Yup, Mascots on the Red Carpet! I want to make a gowns for a mascots to wear on the red carpet! Imagine a big, happy, bundle of fuzz in a chartreuse organza gown!

Gotta love the mascots!