ROOT – For sisters Maria and Jessica Castillo Venegas, crocheting is a mix of their left and right brains working together.
As fun as crocheting little stuffed animals, it can be mental gymnastics to plan and execute patterns the sisters compose for certain garments and client requests.
“Some things are easier than others,” said Jessica, the older sister.
But the crochet tops, for example, “are completely designed from start to finish,” Maria said. “It takes a lot of thinking, a lot of arithmetic, about people’s body shapes and the sizes they need.”
Turning their longtime hobby into a full-fledged business, the sisters opened Cozy by Castillo in early 2021.
what they make
Cozy by Castillo sells handmade crochet earrings, stuffed animals, tops, shawls and other accessories.
People also read…
For Valentine’s Day, the shop offers “eternal flowers”, or crocheted roses.
One of their specialties is making amigurumi plushes, a special type of Japanese-style plush, characterized by their small size and adorable faces or proportions.
The sisters created familiar pop culture characters and knitted their own little animals, like elephants and bees. Crocheted fried eggs, waffles, spaghetti and meatballs are also available.
They have also ventured into sewing masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic; Jessica said that at one point she sewed 1,500 masks to sell, not including the masks she gave out to family and friends.
Jessica started crocheting at the age of 6, her mother having taught her when she was little to keep busy during the summer. The other Castillo siblings learned, but “I learned it more than my sisters,” she said.
Maria, who won Miss Root 2022, has taken up crochet more recently. In 2018, she underwent surgery and wanted to do more than watch TV while recovering. So she picked up a hook.
The sisters, who both work in science (Jessica is a microbiologist and Maria is a chemist), said they both enjoyed the trial-and-error process of creating a new crochet pattern and the satisfaction to see their work completed.
How long does it take to craft certain items?
“It really depends,” Maria said. The things they know how to do will take them between 2 and 5 hours. Their first projects or more time-consuming projects, like the pocket shawl, will take about 18 hours.
A way to bond
Before Cozy By Castillo became an officially licensed business, Jessica started with an Etsy store in college in 2015, selling headbands. They eventually closed shop and created their own website, cozybycastillo.com, with the goal of being a more established business.
They go to craft fairs to sell their handmade items. When COVID-19 hit, they pivoted to focus more on their online store, teaching themselves digital marketing.
“It was about learning this different language of web design,” Maria said. The sisters had to strategize their store and learn how to reach audiences online, something they had never done before.
“We don’t have degrees in finance, marketing or anything else. We are just two people who wanted to crochet,” Maria said.
As sisters, they hang out and watch Netflix and crochet together. They found ways to balance their professional and social lives, and when to approach as sisters and as co-owners.
Connect with others
Crochet is inherently handmade with love, the two sisters agreed. After conducting most of their business online due to COVID-19, they will return to in-person craft and vendor shows this spring.
They appreciate that customers come up to their stand and show them the different crochet characters. The sisters said they crochet items based on their interests, creating plush toys inspired by Pokemon and Star Wars.
A customer will say to Maria: “I love this Sailor Moon keychain. And they can bond around that shared interest.
“I always hope people get excited because we’re doing things that interest us,” she said.
For more information and to follow the Castillo Venegas sisters as they tour around craft shows and vendors, visit www.facebook.com/CozyByCastillo.