LOMBARD – Lombard resident Ashley Humberstone feels honored that an actress from her favorite TV show, HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” owns one of her handmade mini-wallets. Humberstone’s online business, The Humble Penguin, gifted 50 wallets to celebrities and members of the press at this year’s GBK Celebrity Gift Lounge honoring Primetime Emmy Award nominees and presenters.
“It’s mind-blowing to know that people from TV shows own something I’ve made,” said Humberstone, 31. “Keisha Castle-Hughes from ‘Game of Thrones’ and Julie Lake and Abigail Savage from ‘Orange Is the New Black’ got gift bags that had my wallet in them. I’m making things in my home, and now people on TV own them.”
Humberstone is a member of The Artisan Group, a collective of about 1,300 small businesses from around the country. The group participates in gifting suites at several of Hollywood’s biggest awards shows, including the Oscars, Golden Globes and MTV Movie Awards, as well as the Emmys.
All of The Artisan Group members’ products are handmade, and they include goods like stationery, jewelry, bath and body items, purses, wallets and clutches.
Humberstone’s mini-wallets were in some of The Artisan Group’s gift bags, in hopes that the celebrities and members of the press will wear or use the products and mention them on social media. This year’s gift lounge was held Sept. 18 and 19 at L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, although Humberstone didn’t make the trip to Los Angeles.
This was the first time Humberstone participated, and she had originally planned to make the wallets only for the press bags. However, The Artisan Group ran out of the celebrity gift bags, so the press bags were given to five celebrities instead.
In addition to the stars from “Game of Thrones” and “Orange Is the New Black,” Michael Grant Terry from “Bones” and Yara Shahidi from “Black-ish” also received gift bags with Humberstone’s wallet, as did representatives from Star Magazine, PerezHilton.com and Yahoo! Celebrity.
“It was very exciting,” Humberstone said. “Being a part of The Artisan Group is a huge honor. The quality of their products is amazing. It was a whirlwind, even though I wasn’t there. And it was completely unexpected that celebrities got my wallets.”
Valerie Guerrero, founder of The Artisan Group, said she loves Humberstone’s wallets and even owns three.
“They’re expertly sewn, and I love her choice of fabric and patterns,” Guerrero said. “Her branding is fantastic, and her site is clean and modern. Her product is great, and I hope she continues to do more.”
Membership to The Artisan Group is selective, and Guerrero handpicks each business to join based on the quality of the product, as well as how successful the sellers are. Businesses that are accepted have the opportunity to provide products for celebrity and press gift bags.
“The Artisan Group is the only group who does handmade-only gifts for celebrity gifting, and it puts your business on a whole new level,” she said. “It lends such credibility if you’re able to say that a celebrity has your product.”
Humberstone began The Humble Penguin in 2012 on Etsy, an online marketplace of entrepreneurs who create and sell handmade goods, and has been a member of The Artisan Group for two years. She said she came up with the name of her business because she is “obsessed” with penguins, even though none of her designs feature penguins.
“I use mostly cotton to make the clutches, wristlet purses and wallets, but sometimes I’ll use satin," she said. “All of my products are very colorful, and I just go through a fabric store and pick out whatever catches my eye.”
Humberstone, who is a retail manager, said this began as a hobby, but now she sometimes works in her sewing room for four to five hours a night after work.
“I’d like to get to a point to be able to send full collections to gifting suites. I’m seriously considering doing the Golden Globes in January,” she said. “I know I’m not going to make a million dollars, but I want to make enough money to be able to justify continuing to do this. I really love it.”
For information on The Humble Penguin, visit thehumblepenguin.com.