SOOOOOO I have a huge thing for stuffed animals. Every single time I go to an anime convention, I love to admire all the adorable plushies in the Dealer’s Room and Artist’s Alley. It is especially awesome to check out all of the handmade stuff over in AA, mainly because you can see how much more love went into making the product. Last Nekocon in Hampton Roads, Virginia, I stumbled across an artist who was selling the most adorable Merpug plushie. I didn’t even know what a Merpug was, and that I needed it, until I saw it. The artist Jackie owns a company called Shlii that specializes in creating awesomeness and cuteness. I had the awesome opportunity of interviewing her via email, so please enjoy!

Age: 28
Career/Job: Fiber Artist

Black Nerd Problems: What color best describes you and why?
Jackie: My introverted nature is blue, but I try very hard to break out of that and be warm and compassionate, which would be more along the lines of a warm red. I guess I’ll just go with violet!

BN: Please tell us a bit about yourself!
Jackie: My name is Jackie, and I live in Norfolk, VA with my husband and two goofy dogs. I taught myself how to sew in 2009 and started making my own, original plush toys soon after. I have a really weird brain, so the ideas for my characters arrive like lightning strikes or I’ll dream them up. I’ve now sold my handmade toys all over the world and at anime/comic conventions on the East Coast. I also enjoy doing illustrations of my characters and have created prints, jewelry and other accessories.


BNP: If your artwork could speak, what would they say about you?
Jackie:  “She has a big sense of humor and a crazy imagination!”

BNP: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Jackie: I find Studio Ghibli films, Adventure Time episodes, and enjoying nature to be the most inspiring for me.


BNP:  What are your goals for the future?
Jackie: I recently launched my very first Kickstarter to have my Merpug plush professionally manufactured. If the project is funded, this will really take my small, handmade toy business to the next level. I would love to have all the characters from my Norfolk Merdogs line turned into these highly detailed plushes.

My goal is to have my Norfolk Merdogs in little boutiques locally, in California, New York, and other magical places. I will continue to hand-craft the majority of my plush toys and would love to one day publish a children’s story based on some of my characters.


BNP: What do you love about the convention circuit?
Jackie: There are two things I absolutely love about doing Artist Alleys:

1.) Meeting others artists and seeing the person behind the artwork and

2.) Seeing the look on peoples’ faces when they see my plush toys for the very first time. It’s usually accompanied by squeaks and/or meeps!

Where to find more of Jackie and her work:






  • Oona Sura is a cosplay enthusiast with an appreciation for Framboise Lambic, Haruki Murakami, and cats. Catch her at the next anime convention on the East Coast!

  • Show Comments

  • dana parr

    Looking for a 3′ to 4′ metal Merpug to display at my front door

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