Dragons, dinosaurs, and other creatures at Button Jar Monsters aren’t fictional beasts: They’re cuddly companions brought to life by owner Jessica Johnson.
The Olney, Illinois, native created Button Jar Monsters in 2017 from her Newburgh, Indiana, home. After crafting two monsters for her oldest sons, the self-taught artist had a spark of inspiration.
“Button Jar Monsters is a play off of my first business, the Dusty Button Jar. I used to sculpt art dolls,” says Johnson. “Because I had already been sculpting, I had all this fabric and materials. I really enjoyed it, so I didn’t stop, and since then it’s just kept going.”
Now, Johnson makes every face, and her team of three employees freehand the bodies to maintain the brand’s unique signature.
“Button Jar Monsters are made with a lot of love and personality,” says Johnson. “I try to make them thinking that all our children are different … so each face is different. You’re owning something not just store bought. A lot of love and inspiration went into it.”
The hand-sewn monsters range from five inches tall to toddler size and are sold online for $35 to $350 through biweekly “drops.” 150 to 200 monsters sell out within two minutes to customers as far as Singapore, Australia, and Great Britain.
Johnson also sells hand-drawn prints and coloring pages and even plans on releasing children’s books in the future. The business financially supports Johnson and her husband Mitchell, allowing him to stay home with their four children.
“We’re really lucky. I just think it’s great that we were able to do this, especially during the pandemic,” says Johnson. “Button Jar Monsters was able to keep going and kind of brought people comfort and joy too. The goal is to see how far we can go with this and how big we can grow, while also staying handmade.”