Mafe Maria: Personal stories by autism parent mentor, Maria Stultz

Exploring New Avenues

Here’s something I have come to know about myself over time… I need recognition. I hate to admit it to myself, but it’s the truth.

On my first jobs out of college, and then, out of Business School, I got plenty of recognition from all of my bosses, and bosses’ bosses. Life was great and my ego was well fed: I was a star. They knew it, but more importantly: I knew it.

Then I changed careers and embarked on the somewhat lonely path of freelance web design. Without a real boss, and lacking a corporate performance system reviewing me annually, I was left to compare myself against the very visible stars of the web design industry. And although I had plenty of clients and people praising my design work — and I believe I am a very good web designer — I kept feeling unaccomplished, because who am I next to Jeffrey Zeldman and Cameron Moll?

Then I had a baby. I became a stay–at–home mom. And either my passion, or my compulsive need for accomplishments pushed me to get back into handmaking, and I opened an Etsy shop. So now I compare myself against great figures of the crafting world… People who’ve written books, who sell a lot of product, who get featured on The Storque, and have a lovely French Toast breakfast every morning with their toddlers, who are taken care of by a great nanny, so mommy can walk to her design studio and work on her passion for half a day, and in the afternoon mail all the products she sells that day. I try not to feel unaccomplished, but the ugly feeling keeps trying to creep in. Some times I defeat it and push myself to make something new; some times I let him win.

That was a big introduction to a very simple thing I wanted to share…


I made what I think is a very beautiful and cute shirt for kids. I listed it in Etsy with what I think are very good photos. I made it available in different kid sizes (the thing that I’ve thought all along has kept me from selling more on Etsy). And yes, I got very nice comments about it from a few Flickr users. But after getting something like 100 views, only ONE person had added my shirt to her list of hearted (loved) items. I have to admit it… I was a little disappointed.

Joey, who is an old fan and customer of told me I should submit my “Felix” design to them. And so I did.

For those of you not familiar with Threadless, here’s the brief story: They print and sell t-shirts (and other items) with designs created by users like me or you, or anybody. So I submit a design. They post it on their web site and over a period of seven days, their community scores it and comments on it. After the seven days, user feedback is closed and the Threadless team uses all this feedback to decide whether my design will be printed or not. If they print it, I get the satisfaction of knowing that people out there will be wearing Felix, and yes, I’ll get a cash award for giving up the copyright of my design. Pretty cool, huh?

My submission to Threadless

So any Threadless users out there, and even those of you who aren’t… Will you please visit and score my design?… If it gets printed, you’d make me incredibly happy, and if you happen to like my design for your child (or God forbid, you), you could also buy a shirt for a much more affordable price than what I could offer if I was making these shirts by hand. In order to submit the design to Threadless I had to pull it off my shop. I can’t do anything commercial with the design for 90 days. So yeah… I guess I’m exploring new avenues for my creativity.


  1. On , Victoria wrote:

    Hola! Encontre tu diseño en Threadless y me gustó mucho, luego ví tu nick y pensé que debías ser colombiana… tu perfil en Threadless me trajo aquí y bueno, eres de Colombia, igual que yo. Me pareció curioso… en fin… mucha suerte con tu diseño en Threadless! :)

  2. On , Maria wrote:

    Gracias Victoria!… Por tomar el tiempo para visitarme aca y contarme, y por la buena energia para mi diseño. :)

  3. On , Jennifer wrote:

    so, scoring has ended, and you had over 22K votes… what’s the verdict?

  4. On , Maria wrote:

    I got 590 votes for an average score of 2.2 over 5. Sounds lame, and it probably is, but the highest score I’ve seen on Threadless is 3.8. I’ve also seen many shirts printed that got a score under 2. So, I still don’t know what will happen. They can take up to 90 days deciding. I got all positive comments, and I believe my design makes a very cute kids shirt. They don’t have many kids designs, so I’m keeping my hopes up. Thanks for asking :)

  5. On , Maria wrote:

    Quick update…
    Threadless won’t be printing my design. Sniff!
    Thanks to all who voted for it.