Eunice & Sabrina Moyle on Finding Your Happy Place and Coming Back to It
An interview with Eunice & Sabrina Moyle from The Write Stuff series:
Hello!Lucky is all about using creativity to spread joy, fun, and kindness. Founded by sisters Eunice and Sabrina Moyle in 2003, Hello!Lucky is an award-winning letterpress greeting card and design studio working with dozens of partners to create products, including Abrams’ pun-derful children’s books: My Mom Is Magical!, My Dad Is Amazing!, Super Pooper and Whizz Kid: Potty Power!, Kindness Rules!, Christmas Is Awesome!, Sloth and Smell the Roses, Go Get ‘Em, Tiger!, and Thanks a Ton! They also offer bedding, ceramics, socks, stationery, custom photo albums, and more. Hello!Lucky is based in San Francisco.
When people ask what do you do, you tell them…?
SM: I write children’s books and run a small greeting card and design studio with my sister, Eunice.
EM: I draw ducks in inner tubes for living.
What’s your biggest struggle—work or otherwise?
SM: Getting up before 6:00 a.m. to write! It’s on my calendar every single day but rarely happens, unless there’s a major deadline eyeballing me.
EM: Too many hobbies – I need 10 more hours each day!
If someone said I want to do what you do, what advice would you have for them?
SM: Read and write whenever you have a chance (voice memos in the car!) and learn how to let go. For me, that’s meditation and music. Find your happy place and keep coming back to it – especially when you’re stressed. Creativity doesn’t come through clenched fists.
EM: Do as much work as humanly possible, and put it out there as much as you can! Do the best job you can, and be reliable and super timely.
What’s been most important to your writing: education, or the real world? Why?
SM: The real world. I write for kids, so I have to keep things grounded in concrete reality: burps, rumps, everyday things, animals, and puns.
EM: Real world. I learned 90% of what I do on the job.
If you could give advice to your 15 year old self, what would it be?
SM: Never doubt that you are creative and will have something worthwhile to say, eventually!
EM: Look around yourself for inspiration and don’t think that genius needs to happen in a vacuum. And take classes — never quit learning!
Do you consider yourself successful? Why?
SM: Yes, because I give families something to laugh and feel good about, even (I hope!) on the 100th read. I am especially proud of our potty training book, Super Pooper and Whizz Kid: Potty Power! and our alphabet book, ABC Dance!, because they take dry subjects and make them fun, and funny!
EM: Yes, because finally, after many many years, I feel confident in my abilities and sure that what I am doing is (mostly) good.
Why do you get up every morning?
SM: To make sure the dog doesn’t poop on the carpet. Oh yes, and to serve humanity and spread positivity, creativity, and connection!
EM: To do all the fun things I like to do, like working and sewing… because life is a joy and full of so many exciting things!
Do you have a favorite ancestor? What is his/her/their story?
SM: Our Aunt Ginny – she was an amazing, creative mom, a brilliant artist and teacher, and had a wry sense of humor.
EM: Our mom and dad. They are both super creative and really enjoy learning – our mom is an amazing quilter and crafter and the queen of reverse engineering any project, and our dad taught himself how to play the piano and mandolin, and how to do linoleum block printing and stained glass. They’re an inspiration!
What’s wrong with society today?
SM: Neighborly relationships and moderation have broken down, and social media has given bullies a preposterously bulbous bullhorn. Mr. Rogers would be horrified.
EM: People need to be kinder to each other. Social media has revealed amazing the level of talent out in the world, but it also causes people to feel like they can be horrible, and makes them feel isolated and like they’re not good enough. Life is not a competition!
Where do you go to find sanctuary?
SM: My bed.
EM: Dance class and my sewing studio.
What is your fondest memory?
SM: Fishing off the dock of our grandmother’s house on Lake Minnetonka with my sister and cousins – the whole afternoon stretching ahead of us, just before we catch something and flip into a frenzy of ew-ing and ah-ing over icky fish guts. The grownups are all busy having boring conversations and reading nonsense magazines.
EM: Living in Provence, France in the summer of 2019: there is warm, golden light and cicadas trilling and we’re eating dinner under the fig trees. Life is blissful.
What would you like to see happen in your lifetime?
SM: Electrification of our power grid through investment in renewable energy.
EM: I’d like people to solve climate change.
What is art? Is it necessary? Why?
SM: Art is the expression of elation, observation, and imagination in a tangible, virtuosic form that delights fellow humans. It makes life worth living!
EM: It is one of the most joyful expressions of life. It’s all the things – movies, music, drawing – that make humans unique and sets us apart from animals… the fact that we find joy in things that are beyond mere survival.
What’s your relationship to clothes? Or: describe the shoes you’re currently wearing.
SM: Reverence: a great outfit brings my best self inside-out!
EM: I love to make clothes. It’s another creative outlet – you can transform a flat piece of fabric into a three-dimensional thing of beauty, and I love learning tricks for how to puzzle things together. It’s like alchemy!
What are you working on right now? Or: what kind of work would you like to do?
SM: I just finished making some DIY videos to promote our new graphic novel, The Cosmic Adventures of Astrid and Stella – actually, one of them was an author reading for you! I got to play with lots of silly sound effects – it was a fun wormhole!
EM: I’m working on the third book in The Cosmic Adventures of Astrid and Stella, my favorite project ever!
If there were one thing about the Bay Area that you would change, what would it be?
SM: Homelessness, and the wind and fog when I leave the house without a sweater.
EM: I wish they would find a way to take care of the homeless and mentally ill. Having lived in France, I feel like the medical system and the way in which we take care of the people who are suffering and don’t have resources is appalling.
A night on the town: what does that mean to you?
SM: Watching a movie in pajamas with a cozy blanket while eating a pint of ice cream directly from the carton.
EM: A delicious dinner out with friends or my husband, followed by a dance club or concert.
Have you ever seen a ghost? Or: what’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen?
SM: No, but I have had songs pop into my head in a way that made me suspect they were piped in by angels! And when a great idea strikes, it can feel like a divine intervention!
EM: Thakpusam at Batu Caves in Malaysia. It is a Tamil Hindu festival in which people practice self-mortification (think spears through mouths, fish hooks in backs!).
What’s the most important life lesson you’ve learned? Or: what was your last moment of awe?
SM: When you free yourself from the clutches of your horrible, petty ego (we all have one!), you invite in all kinds of magic.
EM: Don’t ever quit. You can pretty much do anything you put your mind to.
What can you do with 50 words? 50 dollars?
SM: Write a poem or pun that will make someone snort. Donate to someone and make their day.
EM: No idea what I can do with 50 words. With 50 dollars, I could make you a fabulous dress!
What are some of your favorite smells?
SM: Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, just-ripe cherry tomatoes on the vine, coffee, puppy tummies.
EM: Plumeria, coffee.
What are you unable to live without?
SM: Love and farts.
EM: Passion and curiosity.
If you got an all-expenses-paid life experience of your choice, what would it be?
SM: Just ONE? So hard! Either A) a month-long writing retreat in a fabulous rustic resort in nature, including a spa, ocean view, comfy bed, and delicious food. Or, B) time off to do whatever I want and follow my passions, including taking classes, traveling, pottery, cooking, writing, reading.
EM: A year with zero responsibilities to learn whatever I want in cool places, e.g. learning how to sew from an haute couture seamstress in France.
If you could live in your ideal society, what would your average day be like?
SM: I would wake up and spend all day doing what I love, with someone or something else (an empathetic robot butler, like Bobo in Astrid and Stella?) to do the dishes, laundry, cooking, cleaning, scheduling, and childcare. Everyone else would be happy and well-supported, too!
EM: The day would be long and I wouldn’t have to do anything tedious, only fun things; to paraphrase Stephen King, it would be like a kid waking up on a Saturday morning with no homework and the bike in the garage, ready to go! There would be no back pain and no one around me would be unhappy, so I wouldn’t have to worry about doing any emotional labor. I would be free to selfishly enjoy myself!