Jessica Lilly is the creative spirit behind the Curious Little Market. This unique online shop features storybooks inspired by Jessica’s time in nature with her sons, as well as adorable, organic stuffed animals based off of characters from her books.
While searching for a way to make her plushies as eco-friendly as possible, Jessica connected with Bears for Humanity and a beautiful collaboration was born. We sat down with Jessica to discuss the inspiration behind Curious Little Market, what she hopes to share with her sons and other curious children, and what it has been like working with Bears for Humanity.
Cuddly Creatures for Curious Children
The Curious Little Market is a place where Jessica shares her stories about nature and the quirky characters that dwell there. “One of the ways I connect with both of my boys is being out in nature and sharing that with them. I always find peace and solace and consistency out in nature,” Jessica shared.
Frequent wanders through the forest with her children provide the inspiration for new stories and characters, which she enjoys first with her boys then shares with the rest of the world through Curious Little Market. Her enchanting creatures, such as the mystical EverWilde, encourage children and adults alike to go out and explore with open eyes and kind hearts.
“I want to try to create a foundation of a love for nature and magic for children but I also want us as adults to remember,” Jessica explained.
In her quest to share the wonder of the world’s natural spaces, Jessica is also dedicated to preserving them. Each time one of her plushies or books is purchased, Curious Little Market plants a tree. Since working with Bears for Humanity, Curious Little Market creatures are created with 100% soft organic cotton instead of polyester.
An Artist Finds Her Medium
Jessica was raised by two creative women who taught her the meditative practice of using her hands to create. With their guidance, she experimented with clay, dough, textiles, and other materials. Jessica shared that when she was young, she sometimes found it difficult to connect in social situations. She preferred to escape into a world of artistic creation that allowed her to portray herself through her work, instead of with words.
As a young adult, Jessica continued to fine tune her skills in sculpture and she also dabbled in cake decoration. While the activities provided mental calm and a space to come back to herself, she still felt something was missing. Creating beautiful cakes was rewarding but the final product lacked a “huggability” and also was impermanent. Sculpting, she explained, resulted in a lasting piece of art, but something about the work still felt too “cold.”
One day in a sewing class, the elements that Jessica had been seeking to complete her creative process all came together. Working with fabrics and textiles provided the tenderness that Jessica desired and the final product was something that would provide long-lasting comfort. In 2016 Jessica had her first son and immediately began to use her creative sewing skills to make things he could connect with.
A Curious Little Market & BfH Collaboration
Jessica’s cuddly creatures and their stories began to grow in popularity through her Instagram page. When she started out, Jessica cut and sewed all of her plushies by hand in small batches. After the birth of her second child, Jessica struggled with a diagnosis that made it difficult to continue the detailed handiwork. She also found herself in need of a way to keep up with growing demand. Jessica began working with a manufacturer to produce larger orders of her creatures. Although this worked for a while, Jessica began to have doubts and concerns about the environmental effect of her manufactured stuffed animals.
Jessica discovered how destructive the textile industry is, and how our favorite brands convince us to use them anyways. “The companies and brands that you think you can trust, when you do a real deep dive, you see that things are said and done in a certain way to make you feel like you can trust what you’re reading, buying, and putting into your body,” Jessica explained.
In reality, many of these products are created in ways that destroy our Earth and harm its people. Polyester manufacturers in countries like China often have little to no environmental or ethical standards to adhere to. Although polyester products are proven to be harmful for the people making them as well as customers, they continue to operate.
Jessica began to question if continuing to create these plushies was the right thing to do. Her line was meant to inspire wonder and protection of nature, and she didn’t want them to inadvertently cause harm to the environment. During this time, she stumbled upon Bears for Humanity custom manufacturing. She was delighted to find a trustworthy producer of 100% certified organic cotton goods that shared her same values. “This is a way for you to continue doing what you love doing while keeping your soul intact,” BfH founder, Vijay, told her.
BfH helped Jessica choose the perfect organic cotton fabrics to portray her unique creatures. Curious Little Market’s plush creatures are made to be cuddled, to go on adventures, and to guide children as they discover their surroundings. Now, Jessica can rest easy knowing even the most sensitive child can enjoy her organic stuffed animals, and there will be no lasting environmental impact in the long-run due to their production.
“I feel like Vijay and Bears for Humanity saved Curious Little Market and also me in a way,” Jessica shared, “because if I had lost (Curious Little Market).. I would have been broken.”
A Sustainable Future for Curious Little Market
Now that Jessica’s beloved plush creatures are made from 100% organic cotton, she is moving forward with new stories and characters. This year she will release a third book, and we are excited to see which new characters will be introduced to her adorable line of plushies. Jessica and Curious Little Market are making strides to not only educate children about the natural world around them, but also to preserve it for generations to come.If you are interested in designing your own custom 100% organic cotton apparel or toys, get started here. To purchase a plush creature or storybook from the Curious Little Market, check out Jessica’s current offerings at https://curiouslittlemarket.shop/.