Q&A With Tracey and Isaac Marzioli, Happy Pantry

The first thing that caught my eye when I walked through the doors at the massive LA Cookie Con earlier this year wasn’t cookies — it was the cute cupcake merchandise from Happy Pantry. I had to stop by and check out the brand’s super cute prints, kitchenware, plushy cupcakes, and many more. Even after sampling all the sweets the convention had to offer, I couldn’t get my mind off the bright and happy characters (there’s way more than just cupcakes), so I trekked back and ultimately got a Ms. Cupcake print, which now hangs in my dining room!

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Happy Pantry is the brainchild of husband and wife team Tracey and Isaac Marzioli, who have a combined 16 years of experience working in TV animation for shows like The Fairly Odd Parents and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Adorable merchandise is available for purchase on their website and their Instagram account is filled with so many cute designs from the series, including fun alphabet characters, cute sketches, and the adventures of the Ms. Cupcake plush. If these characters ever get animated, they’ll be the most adorable cartoon and you bet I’ll watch it.

Isaac and Tracey were nice enough to take the time out to speak with me about the Kawaii brand.

Where did the inspiration from Happy Pantry come from? 

Happy Pantry started from a doodle on a paper table cloth at a restaurant.  The restaurant gives you crayons, so they encourage drawings.  We wouldn’t recommend it at every restaurant.  The original drawing was a sack of flour and his team of kitchen themed ninjas.  We liked the idea of the inanimate objects with faces so much that we went home and kept drawing the characters which soon evolved into a full cast of characters.  We like to think that they’re all still secretly ninjas on the inside.

We both love the cute Japanese art style called Kawaii (which really just means cute in Japanese).  We went through a lot of names before settling on Happy Pantry, which we think encompasses our brand’s purpose.  

We brainstorm ideas of what we want to draw and design them in Adobe Illustrator.  We want them to have simple, clean lines and bright colors.  Each character goes through revisions until it reaches a maximum level of eyeball melting adorableness.

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Which of the products/characters are your most popular? Which one is your favorite?

While we’ve drawn a lot of characters from pistachios in mustachios, Zompeas to Indibanana Jones, we’ve found Ms. Cupcake, Ms. Onion, and Mr. Latte most appealing.  So most of our merchandise is based around these three characters.  Ms. Cupcake is probably our most popular character, as we’ve already sold out of our first run of plush cupcakes and tote bags.  We just got more tote bags in stock and we’re close to getting more plushes.  

You both have extensive backgrounds in animation and television. How did you each get started in animation? Are there any plans to ever animate Happy Pantry?

We were both artistic growing up.  Both of us were either doodling on homework or sculpting or creating something horrible that will never see the light of day.

Isaac: In college, I made a class trip to Nickelodeon Animation Studio in Burbank and decided at that moment that I wanted to work there.  I interned in my last semester and was able to make contacts that eventually helped me get into the industry.  I’ve worked at Nickelodeon on Fairly Odd Parents for the majority of my career, and I’ve also freelanced at Disney and Cartoon Network.

Tracey: I went back to school to jump into CG animation. Since I love to paint, I wanted a career as a Texture Artist. I’ve been working on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles since 2010 and occasionally freelance on 2D projects.

We would love to have Happy Pantry animated.  It’s one of the many things we want to do with our brand as we grow.  There are a lot of directions that we’re exploring.  But having a cartoon based on something we designed would be a dream come true.

What challenges are there in making regular every day things super cute?

Our biggest hurdle isn’t necessarily drawing something cute, but rather drawing or designing something that we can turn into merchandise that other people want.  We have a list of kitchen items that are lined up to be brought to life, but we have to make sure we pay attention to the right character and develop them correctly.

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Where are some of your favorite places to eat in Los Angeles?

There are so many!  CaCao Mexicatessen, Mario’s Deli, The Curry House, Donut Friend, Pita Kitchen, The Great Greek, Veggie Grill, Lemonade, Iroha Sushi, Mi Piace, Cafe Santorini, Chado, Ca Del Sole, Mandoline Grill — and anything with a great vegetarian menu!  

Where can we find Happy Pantry merchandise in the future?

We’re bringing Happy Pantry to these shows:

And we hope to see you all there…maybe not every single place, but at some point…and at least for one of them!

People should follow us on Instagram – @happy_pantry – don’t forget the underscore between happy and pantry!  That way you can keep up on all the drawings we do, new merchandise we have coming out, and even events that we’re going to be at!

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You heard ’em! You can follow Happy Pantry on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, as well as order merchandise from their website.

Images courtesy of Happy Pantry

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Mallory is the founder and foodie-in-chief of Couch Potato Cook. She is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles by day, and a foodie in her spare time.

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