One student is stuffing her engineering knowledge into a 5-foot whale.

Avery Lopez, a sophomore studying mechanical engineering, founded PeaPow Plush, a business making custom stuffed animals and characters, in December 2013.

The idea for PeaPow Plush began with an academic adviser suggesting Lopez pick up a hobby. She started making plushies, posted pictures on Facebook and soon afterward received her first order, she said.

“My business is still related to academics in some way,” Lopez said. “I try to learn about business and materials and overall how the community is in general, and how they react to children’s toy.”

Lopez’s engineering background has helped throughout the process, as well as with taking individual orders, she said.

“In engineering you come up with an idea, come up with a design and then you go out and try to make a model of it. You try to 3D print it,” Lopez said, “And here you have the same thing. You need to take an idea and make it real for people.”

The difference between buying a plush toy from a retail store and a buying a custom-made plushie is the amount of time and individual effort spent on making it, she said.

“Kind of like watering a plant, you start out with a seed and after a long time of hard work and attention you get a flower,” she said. “At Walmart you don’t really get that experience. You choose your grade of plushie and you go buy it and go home and put it on your bed.”

Chastity and Alfred Lopez, Avery’s parents, support their daughter by helping her sew and sometimes financially backing her ideas, Chastity Lopez said.

“She’s always had an interest in being the girl that she is. She loves cute things, anyway,” she said. “She has a creative side to her even if she is math-oriented.”

Avery Lopez is not only interested in creation of the plushies, her mother said; she is also interested in the business side of the PeaPow Plush.

“Avery is actually very prone to spreadsheets. The business side actually worked out for her because she likes the numbers, she likes to see what her unit costs are, how many labor hours she puts into it, how much she gets paid per hour. She is pretty good at that part too,” Chastity Lopez said.

Stephanie Keyes, a sophomore studying anthropology, has known Avery Lopez since kindergarten and helped her in the beginning stages with marketing, by posting on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.

“I thought it would be pretty cool. She’s always liked doing arts and crafts and sewing. And she has a really nice eye for design,” Keyes said. “I thought it would be a good idea, I mean there is not a lot of places that specialize in custom-plush around here.”

Keyes hopes the company will continue to grow and thinks Lopez will be able to handle a full course load along with the business, she said.

Plushies are stuffed toys that come in many shapes and sizes. Lopez has created stuffed animals including whales, cats and monkeys, she said.

Avery Lopez had her first public exhibit at the Albuquerque Comic Expo where she presented Marvel- and DC-inspired plushies. She will be presenting again at the Albuquerque Mini Makers Faire, Sept. 13-14.

_Lauren Marvin is a freelance writer for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at or on

Twitter @LaurenMarvin._