Back in April, Waitsburg saw a sudden uptick in the local bigfoot population. Lisa Russell, the owner of Cryptid Comforts, was at the heart of the population boom and is ready to bring more legends and cryptids to town.

Russell taught herself to sew sock monkeys a few years ago and before long she had all sorts of interest from friends and family to purchase the monkeys. While teaching at Portland Jewish Academy, a colleague suggested a unicorn sewing class, and while Russell liked the idea, she felt it wasn’t inclusive enough and designed a variety of legendary creatures to be included in the class.

Her experience creating legendary creatures class led Russell to take a bigger interest in cryptozoology, the study of cryptids.

“It’s a lot like a game of telephone,” Russell said. “Bits and pieces of information get dropped along the way.”

She said that she thinks there is a logical explanation for each creature and enjoys trying to track down the lost information.

Russell decided to leave sock monkeys behind and focus more on legends and myths, and quickly came up with Cryptid Comforts.

Cryptid Comforts sells handmade stuffed cryptids including Bigfoot, the Kraken, Mothman and others. Recently, the business has added buttons, pins and candles with an upcycled twist to the inventory.

All of the cryptids that Russell creates are from her own hand-drawn patterns and is cut and stitched by her alone. She recently received a large order for her creations from the subscription box service, Cryptid Crate, and she said her goal is to create 100 of the nameless cryptids a week until she is finished.

The order from Cryptid Crate was a big victory for the small business and was the very ‘pick-me-up’ that Russell needed after her favorite cryptid-related conventions and festivals were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic .

During the summer and into the fall, Russell had planned on traveling to the nearly 20 events she attends annually to sell her handmade stuffed animals, buttons, pins and candles. Her plans to travel as far as West Virginia for the Mothman Festival in Point Pleasant have been postponed until 2021.

“I’m really trying to make this more of a full-time business, as opposed to a hobby,” said Russell. “Seeing event after event cancel was hard. It would be impossible to hold the events safely, though.”

Like many small business owners, she feels the weight of the pandemic, but feels incredibly lucky to have her barista job at Ten Ton Coffee in Waitsburg as she continues building her inventory.

Currently, Russell’s cryptids are displayed at Ten Ton Coffee on Main Street surrounded by hand-drawn images of the their natural habitats and information about the creatures including recorded sightings . Along with the cryptids, Russell offers a variety of handmade items for purchase at the coffee shop. Nothing like a latte with a chupacabra to get you going in the morning!

Cryptid Comforts is also on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and items can be purchased at https://squareup.com/store/in-a-stitch

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