Colo. boys design comforting monsters

New Fort Collins company aims to help children ‘in need of a little love’

Sam Tollison and his twin brother, Ben, sew original monster dolls for needy children in Fort Collins. Here, 10-year-old Sam sews fabric as he helps make Monsters to Love dolls. Enlarge photo

V. RICHARD HARO/The (Fort Collins) Coloradoan

Sam Tollison and his twin brother, Ben, sew original monster dolls for needy children in Fort Collins. Here, 10-year-old Sam sews fabric as he helps make Monsters to Love dolls.

FORT COLLINS – Sam and Ben Tollison are on a mission to bring monsters out from under the bed and into children’s arms everywhere.

“A Monster to Love” is a new Fort Collins company that offers hand-stitched, original creations to Fort Collins children. For every monster sold, a fraternal twin (inspired by real-life fraternal twins Sam and Ben) is given to a child in need of a little love.

The idea was sparked by the 10-year-olds’ father, Ray Tollison, and his work with World Relief, an organization that resettles refugees.

“It all started when they’d bring refugee kids to the hospital, and it was Christmastime,” Ben said.

Since Ray and the boys began stitching monsters in December, more than 100 have gone to children served by Realities for Children, World Relief and the National Institutes of Health.

Every monster is designed by “monster maker” Ben and sewn by Ray and Sam. For now, monsters are created with a square body until the sewing team catches up with Ben’s artistic vision.

“Ben can do some pretty crazy monsters, but Sam and I are not the greatest sewers in the world,” Ray said. “We keep them simple for now.”

For every monster sewed, there’s a drawing somewhere in Ben’s “big black sketchbook.”

“I usually have a lot of ideas,” Ben said. “I fill up whole pages of my sketchbook with monsters.”

Currently, monsters are sold at fairs and various events in Northern Colorado or can be custom-ordered at www.amonstertolove.com.

Custom orders can select the color head, mouth and body – and personality – of the monster, leaving the creative design to Ben.

“We take all those things and put them together,” Ray said. “You never know exactly what you’re going to get because it has to be approved by the monster maker.”

While Ray plays a large role in the administrative and sewing side of the business, he said the idea came solely from the twins.

He’s learned to listen to their innovations since Sam successfully petitioned Gov. John Hickenlooper for the inaugural Colorado Cinnamon Roll Day last fall.

“Since Cinnamon Roll Day, we try to listen and do these things they come up with,” Ray said. “I have 5 million ideas a day, and they go nowhere. Sam and Ben have had two, and they’ve taken off. I’m just going to do what they want to do.”

Sam and Ben have big hopes for their monsters – hopes they say will only get bigger as they grow with the monsters they create.

“I just want to get to the point where we can buy a shop and expand it from there,” Ben said.

“When we become famous, we want to have a restaurant and a museum and a monster factory,” Sam said.

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