"I never intended to become an internet person, but it happened and now that I’m here, I might as well stay.”
Words: Rachel Cameron-Potter and The Monster Inn
Photography: The Monster Inn
Mimic mug manufacturers 'The Monster Inn' are a sibling trio based in the UK, sculpting and shipping their Dungeons and Dragons inspired inventions across the globe.
Weary warlocks, tired tieflings and petered-out paladins, if rest is what your require on your tumultuous travels, consider taking a long rest at The Monster Inn.
Having recently breathed life into my latest Dungeons and Dragon’s character (an adorable tiefling-druid called Leaf), I couldn’t resist reaching out to Isabella – the founder, chief potter and social media guru behind The Monster Inn – to ask about the functional art brand’s conception, craft and climb to fame, carried out all while studying for an Engineering degree and navigating a pandemic at the same time.
To kickstart the conversation, I naturally had to ask where The Monster Inn began. Run by Isabella and her two siblings, the brand designs, sculpts, fires and paints mimic mugs from clay, each a lifelike rendition of the role-playing game’s nefarious NPCs. From demiliches to demons, every drinking cup is designed with a particular monster in mind, mirroring the mimics that populate the D&D fantasy universe.
“I got into [pottery] because my mum’s an artist, so I’ve always been around sculpture and stuff like that. She sells in galleries and she’s very, very good, but we have completely different styles. I’m very precise, whereas my mum has more of a ‘slap it on’ kind of style as she likes things to look like they’re moving. They have a much more flowing, blurred style, which looks really cool.
“In my first year of university I was dating a boy who was also really into D&D, and he came up to me with this picture of a mimic mug that someone had drawn and said, ‘can you make this for me out of clay?’. [The mug I made] was pretty much a carbon copy of the drawing. I painted it, made it food-safe, gave it to my ex-boyfriend and then posted it on Reddit – where it got really, really popular. Loads of people contacted me saying ‘could you make me one?’ and since it was coming up to Christmas I thought that I could maybe make a couple bucks.
“I went on to create this production line – and [the mugs] were terrible. They were absolutely awful. But people loved them.
“I later started an Instagram and started posting more on Reddit, and [engagement] was really up and down. Then when COVID hit, I didn’t really have anything to do, so I decided that I was going to make more mugs. Between then and now I’ve had a whole year to play with the idea and to develop it, as well as having my dad build a workshop at the end of the garden. Ever since I got my own little workshop, it all exploded in about a year – all because some ex-boyfriend of mine asked me to make him a mug.”
As it stands, The Monster Inn has a hugely popular online following, with 14.5k Instagram followers and 494K TikTok followers (at the time of writing) and seems to be growing at a daily rate – and with a growing online presence, business is booming.
“Over the Christmas period I’ll get around 200 to 300 orders that need doing, so in the lead up to Christmas I tend to make a lot of mugs. Then January to March I’ll make two or three a week because people don’t really want to spend too much money, and then it starts to pick up quite a bit after March.
“I did a really big order a while ago, where I made 12 mugs, each one being completely different. It was for a guy’s wedding, where he ordered personalised mugs for each of his groomsmen – it was really sweet.”
Although famed for their mimic mugs, The Monster Inn dabbles in other designs too, with other D&D themed stock including dice towers, pipes and shot glasses, each with their own personalised charm. However, with the online store’s popularity soaring and a degree to complete, what does the future of The Monster Inn look like?
“Since all of my exams are online this year, I don’t think I’ll have to worry about anything until October time, as I’ll be going into my final year. However, if the business really takes off, I might get to the point where I’ll be making so much money that I can say fuck university! I don’t really want to do that since I’ve been sticking with university quite intensively, and I’m aware that mug popularity is fleeting, so I need an actual degree.
“I’m quite lucky since I’ve got quite a big room at university, so I might transfer some of my stuff up there to continue making content. The problem is, I need to use a kiln and my kiln is down here. So I’ll probably come back home every three weeks or so and fire and paint whatever I made. I never intended to become an internet person, but it happened and now that I’m here, I might as well stay.”
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