Tell me a little bit about yourself!
The first time I worked with fabric was for an art piece I created about Oakland Raiders Superfans (which can be seen on my Etsy page). I decided to use felt as the medium and immediately felt something click. I think it might be a connection to my recent ancestors who were in the New York garment trade (and whose company was housed in the Kheel Tower, which still stands in NYC). Once I began using fabric I took a wide range of classes around Los Angeles (Blue Rooster, Sew LA, Art Center, ACP) to learn more about the medium and how to use it.
Where did the name of your store come from?
My last name, Kheel and the connection to my family history.
Why did you start making goods for Kheel's?
I made my first Los Angeles strip mall sign pillow for a group show at Monkey House Toys in Silverlake. My idea was to take an idiosyncratic yet iconic symbol of Los Angeles and transfer it to a new form so that people could take it home with them. I also thought it was interesting to take something that people think if as hard and dirty and make it soft. This is kind of theme for me.
I made my first felt applique hat to wear to a Lakers vs Clippers game. The Clippers hat I made powered the team to victory so I knew it was the right thing to do.
What is your favorite item?
My favorite item is the bear hat. The bear is my spirit animal and the hat provides a valuable service (protect yourself from the sun!).
What is your most popular item?
The mesh hats are the most popular. I think people love the handmade quality and originality of the hats, I often hear how people haven't ever seen anything like it. Plus each one is one of kind!
I also sell a lot of strip mall sign pillows, people seem to identify parts of their lives to each shop in the strip mall. They'll tell me, "I love Korean massages, Mexican food and donuts! This pillow is perfect for me!"
Where do you get the inspiration for your work?
Most of the inspiration for my work comes from riding around Los Angeles and looking for ideas in the least likely places. For example, I was riding under a dark and scary bridge when I noticed the throw up tags that I made into pillows. It seemed to me that the round letter forms and abstract shapes would make really cool pillows. I also thought it would be fun to try different colors so they people could have a pop of color in their home. I made my first bear hat after seeing the animal control agency capture a bear in Glendale. It made me wonder what happens to these bears, and sadly, if they don't take to relocation they are destroyed. That's why 10% of proceeds from the bear hats goes to http://lionstigersandbears.org/, a rescue agency that needs funds to provide permanent homes for these bears.
What makes your store unique?
I think my store is unique because my interests and subject matter are a bit more manly then what you normally see in a handmade goods store. I also try to incorporate elements that are personal to me - my love of Los Angeles, my interest in sports and of course my family tradition.
What is the toughest part about making your goods/your artistic process?
The toughest part is that there is only 24 hours in a day. It's hard to find enough time to make stuff. You start to work and all of a sudden hours have flown by!!
Do you take custom orders?
Yes I take custom orders! Let me know if you have a favorite spirit animal, strip mall sign, graffiti piece or stuffed felt written word wall hanging and I'll get right on it!
When is the last day I can order in time for Christmas Day?
Where can I see more of your work and buy a gift?
Are you going to be at any shows soon, so I can see your work in person?
Yes! I will be at Unique LA on December 7th and 8th. Stop by and say hello!
Fun stuff, right? Anyone who likes an original and unique items would love these as a gift! And lucky for you, there's a discount for my readers so you can save a couple of bucks on all of your holiday gifts! Enter the promo code "XMASKHEELS" to receive 10% off.