grumpy kid studio toronto

This Toronto designer has the cutest side hustle

A Toronto designer with a background in architecture has a rather expressive hobby, the products of which she hopes makes peoples' days a little bit brighter. 

By day, Garbo Zhu works in the architecture industry. At night, she works at her side hustle, Grumpy Kid Studio

Grumpy Kid Studio is an online ceramics store that makes handmade pottery, all made by Zhu herself. What makes her ceramics unique is the small grumpy face included on all of the creations.

"By adding faces into your daily mug, [it] just adds a little bit of something to your day. [It] brightens up your mood a little bit," she explained to blogTO.

Zhu learned how to hand-build ceramics from a studio near her house and initially used this technique during the first few months of her side hustle.

Grumpy Kid Studio makes a variety of ceramics including bowls and vases, but focus mostly on mugs. Their releases of fun, colourful and expressive products often sell out in minutes.

She also finds similarities between the architecture industry and pottery-making: each produces a physical, functional object in the end. 

In the future, Zhu hopes to expand Grumpy Kid within Canada, but the big dream is to have a factory where people can tour the space, see how a mug is made and add their own touches to their own Grumpy Kid mug. 

You can check out Zhu's ceramics collection and exclusive drops on her website and Instagram.

Want more stories like this? Make sure to subscribe to Side Hustle, blogTO's show about people in Toronto who have pursued their passion as a side project and found success that premieres weekly on Snapchat.

Editor's note: Though Zhu has graduated from an Architectural Science program at Ryerson, Zhu is not a practicing architect at this time.  

Lead photo by

Grumpy Kid Studio


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