Image courtesy of Joan Camaya
Joan Camaya channeled her crocheting abilities in fourth grade after school one day when her mom returned from work with yarn and crochet hooks in hand. Camaya’s mother was inspired by the crocheted figures her boss made and decided she and her daughter would learn the craft together.
Now a sophomore, Camaya has taken her initially hobby-oriented crocheted creations and turned them into a money-making venture by taking commissions from both teachers and students. Camaya was introduced to the idea of taking commissions after a classmate of hers spotted her give a crocheted dinosaur, also known as a skrunkle, to a friend as a thank you gift. She was later enlisted by said classmate to craft one for his younger sister.
“He requested it to be a larger one, so I made it and brought it into my wellness class with Mr. Willburn,” Camaya says “Mr. Willburn asked if I could make one for his son, and I couldn’t say no, so of course I had to do it.”
Since then, Camaya has been receiving more word-of-mouth commissions from her peers, resulting in her business taking off. When sophomore Andrew Mazzorana caught wind of Camaya’s business, he commissioned her to craft a barney-themed skrunkle. He was more than pleased with Camaya’s handiwork.
“It is an extremely high-quality skrunkle that uses tight-knit techniques, and the price is half that of other crocheted figures you’d find on eBay. It also has a squishy body and is adorable.” Mazzorana says.
Camaya’s business is entirely based on “amigurumi,” which is the Japanese art of crocheting or knitting yarn creatures. Amigurumi, which is a compound of the Japanese words “Ami,” meaning “crocheted or knitted;” “kurumi,” meaning “wrapping” and “nuigurumi,” meaning “stuffed doll.”
“My favorite part of this process is seeing people’s reactions to the amigurumi. I really love seeing the joy that I can bring to other people, and that makes all the hard work and effort pay off,” Camaya says.
As for the products Camaya is currently making and selling, the crocheted figurines the sophomore can make include frogs, dinos (skrunkles) and mochi plushies.
“I can do a small, medium and large [dino]. They’re one of the favorite things that I make, although they are a little time-consuming. I really do enjoy making them,” Camaya states. “I can make frogs as well. They’re very adorable, very squishy and cute.”
Customers can select colors on the form for the belly and base of the dinos, while the frogs are available in green and the mochi plushies are available in vanilla (white) and strawberry (pink). The price for the products ranges from seven dollars to 20 dollars based on the product type, size and lettering, if desired.
At the moment, Camaya is planning to start by making these three adorable items for customers but is thinking of adding new products in the near future.
“We’ll see how this goes for the first month, but after that, I might add new things like cows, or, if anyone has any suggestions, I am open to trying new things.”
The young artist is hoping she will be able to set up her own Etsy shop in the future, but as of right now, Camaya will start with taking commissions at school. By starting with commissions, Camaya feels it will be a good practice run for her if she wishes to set up an Etsy shop in the future, and a great experience to spread joy to anyone who has a love for her stuffed creatures.
“This is a really great opportunity, and I really hope more people will order my creations,” Camaya says. “I really hope I can bring more joy and bring items that satisfy the customer.”
You can buy a crocheted creature at “https://forms.gle/a1rzV5Nqqf7CM66D6”