To a Disnerd, mouse ears are an essential accessory for roaming the parks. And although Disney does a fantastic job of keeping up with trends and offering their ear lovers a great variety of color and style, it is no surprise that the most highly complimented ears are ones made by a small shop! You can find pretty much any theme, character, style, or color that can perfectly fit your exact preference to how you want to rock your mouse ears. And if you’re looking for some of the most sparkly and whimsical pair of ears, I have just the shop you can go to – Chasing Childhood!
Karina is the face behind the beautiful products made at Chasing Childhood but she also has the help of a tiny team which includes Katie, who helps out once a month to help with prep work, and her husband, who helps her process orders. The way the shop came about was a “perfect storm“, Karina explains, “we had just bought our first home and moved away. I had just had my 3rd child and I had a 30th birthday trip coming up. Two things happened: I couldn’t find any ears that I fell in love with, and I couldn’t afford any that I did find. So I gathered my supplies, set myself a budget of around £10 ($12) and set to work! After my trip I shared what I had worked on, on twitter and people loved them! And that was it. I committed £50 and 3 months, and here we are!“
It is no surprise that one of the biggest driving forces for her and her shop is her obsession with Disney. But she also knew that she needed to stay home for her kids to care for them. And that inspiration drives her to this day! Although she loves that she can incorporate Disney into her work life and be able to be at home to care for her kids, she now has more people supporting her shop that she feels as though she also needs to keep the magic alive for them as well!
And my oh my has she kept the magic alive. From her first days of starting the shop to what Chasing Childhood looks like now, it’s almost unrecognizable! Her goals were small when she first set out, and now Karina’s desk spans across two rooms, shipping out about 100 items a month on average. She also offers a wide range of accessories including headbands, hair clips, and crystallized vintage bags. Her ears of course are what started it all and she offers over 100 different ear styles! WHAT! Overall though, Karina loves the feeling of focusing on one customer at a time to create products and is even considering offering her followers a subscription box since her followers keep asking her for her to do something of the sort.
With each new product she makes, she is continually inspired by Disney films, parks, and Disney themes and usually has a list of designs that she is working through. But some styles that she makes just come from a color palette. Early on Karina found that pastel rainbow was “her style” and she has ran with it since! But that’s not the only thing that inspires her: “Sometimes I’ll see a new dress release and think ‘I can make something to work with that’ or I’ll find an obscure item or character and base some ears off that. It’s constantly evolving and changing.“
It’s no surprise that with each new thing she comes up with, her followers (including myself) are constantly blown away. Karina even shared with me that that is actually the biggest highlight of her small shop career – the community that built itself around the beautiful things that she makes! “It blows my mind that people support what I do. My customers, followers, and friends are just incredible and have been a real driving force behind my success.“
But no small shop is without it’s complications. Especially in the world of ear-making where more and more shops are opening daily and not all of them seem to have the same integrity as others. In fact the biggest challenge that Karina and Chasing Childhood faced was that she “had a customer buy ears, copy them and open a shop. It was really hard. I was getting dozens of messages a day from people asking me if I’d seen it. It really affected me mentally for a long time. I had to train myself to stay in my lane and add blinders. There are so many incredible jeweled & embellished ear shops out there. We all have a very unique style, but the end product, although using the same materials, looks completely different. I know that I am one person and cannot fulfill the demand that is out there alone, there is room for everyone, but it’s so important that we are true to ourselves and our customers!” Honestly I think her take on this aspect of her shop alone shows her own integrity to this business industry she is in!
With such a high level of integrity and respect for her shop and others, Karina has made Chasing Childhood her full-time job, and if you have seen her stories, her kids make frequent appearances running around in the background of her stories. Between running the shop, taking care of her kids, homeschooling them, and just life in general, she doesn’t have a lot of time for much else. However, she did buy Animal Crossing at the start of lockdown and has started playing it as a way to take a step back and relax for a bit!
Especially with how uncertain times seem right now, Karina talks of the importance of finding these small things in everyday life that bring joy. “Seek them out and embrace them. That morning coffee. That minute of deep thought. The cool breeze on a hot day. We can’t think bigger picture right now, so refocusing on things we can control is important.“
Often during these times I think people find something creative to do or may even start to do more of something that they were already really good at! And maybe that can even lead them to start a shop of their own! As a reliable shop owner herself, Karina encourages others to find what they love and embrace it: “If you love your product it will show and others will see it too. Stay in your lane, it’s easy to get distracted by what others are doing, make sure you focus on what YOU do best. Find your people, the ones who will help build you back when you feel broken, and celebrate with you when you are flying high. Make sure they aren’t ‘yes’ people – you need people who will tell you if things are bad or you are out of line. Listen to your community, their voice is the difference between success and failure.“
And if you want to support and follow along with Karina and the fun that is Chasing Childhood, be sure to give her a follow! Her Instagram is @ChasingChildhood and her website is www.chasingchildhood.co.uk. If you want to purchase from her, she usually opens the last Friday of each month at 7pm PST (UK) for general release but with COVID, things have been rather uncertain. However, she updates the link in her bio with the her next opening date.
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