The lifestyle of a creative person involves many projects and tasks.
One day can be dedicated to writing a song, another can be spent making figurines or recording a video blog session. It’s a labor of love that can often be as rewarding as it can be stressful.
Enter Lauren Fairweather, a Cranston resident who has more than 91,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel. She creates and sells plush toys and is also a musician who specializes in the Harry Potter-influenced wizard rock genre.
I recently had a talk with Lauren about all of this and more.
ROB DUGUAY: What do you consider to be your first love – music, writing or creating objects?
LAUREN FAIRWEATHER: I’ve always loved being creative in any way I could, ever since I could remember. I’d write stories, put on musical performances for my family, and I’d also make houses and other accessories for my toys. I can still build a pretty convincing rocket ship out of cardboard boxes. I’m not really sure what came first, but both music and crafting were a big part of my life in my earliest memories. Luckily, I’ve found a way to keep doing lots of the creative things I’ve always enjoyed while learning new ones as well.
Having a wide variety of interests means that I never really get bored. I can just focus on whichever form of work I’m most excited about at the time and it helps me to keep from burning out.
RD: How did you go about making your own YouTube channel?
LF: I started my YouTube channel in February 2006 with the plan to use it for any creative video content I wanted to make and share, and since then I’ve used it to post a wide variety of creativity and nerd culture-related videos.
Early on, I began uploading videos of local performances with my wizard rock band, The Moaning Myrtles, so our fans around the world could enjoy them even though they couldn’t travel to our shows, and it all grew from there. A few years in, I started to watch other folks who were using YouTube to video blog and became really interested in that as a form of creative expression.
A few years after that, my audience began showing interest in the crafts I make by hand, so I started making DIY tutorials as well. I pay a lot of attention to what my audience is most excited about, and I even have a Patreon campaign where supporters can help me decide what kinds of videos to make next.
I still occasionally share videos of me performing original music that I release under my own name. In fact, back in October I released my first full-length album in over seven years. It’s called “With You, Whatever Happens,” and it’s available now in digital music stores.
RD: That’s awesome. You also make these cute animal plush toys called Fairweather Friends. What inspired you to start making these, and how long does it take you to make each toy?
LF: I try to regularly think up ideas for new things to make, and while I was brainstorming plans for products to sell at the merchandise table for my concerts, I decided to make little owl plushies. They were something different from the usual T-shirts and CDs other bands were selling and they’re fun to make, so it seemed like a good thing to try. I could barely keep up with the demand at first, and people from all over were asking me to start selling them online. So after a few months of designing and making a bunch of cute characters, I started an Etsy shop called Fairweather Friends where I could sell them. They usually take between 30 minutes and two hours each to make, but it varies depending on the size and amount of detail that the design has.
I embroider all of their faces by hand and every step in the process is done by me. As a result, my inventory is always limited and they all have their own unique personalities.
RD: What’s your favorite thing about having a strong presence on YouTube and social media, and what do you dislike the most about it?
LF: I love being able to reach and meet people who share so many interests in common with me. If I make a video talking about Harry Potter, fans of that series find me and then I suddenly have a bunch of new people to talk to about it! I’ve also met lots of creative folks just like me and I love getting to collaborate with them. My job has also given me lots of opportunities to travel all over the world to perform, speak on panels and sell my crafts. I’ve been a part of concerts and nerd conventions in London, Ireland, Canada, and nearly every U.S. state.
Unfortunately, with that kind of attention comes a fair amount of negativity. Not everyone who finds my work is nice to me about it, but I have to read through their comments anyway in order to continue to keep in touch and engage with the supportive community that has formed around me work over the years.
RD: Do you have anything new happening later in the year either musically, with writing or in terms of crafts?
LF: I’ll be traveling to perform at two Harry Potter conventions, which I’m very excited about. I’m going to LeakyCon Dallas in August and LeakyCon Boston in October, and I’ll be selling my products and speaking on panels there as well. I have a new song coming out in the near future which is inspired by the SyFy show “The Magicians.” I’m always creating new things, so I usually recommend that folks subscribe to youtube.com/laurenfairweather and follow me on Twitter and Instagram @laurenfairwx so they can keep up with everything new that I post.