meet the elves


 

Sean von Stade
Chief Toymaker & Jig Builder

Sean has been working with his hands and building stuff ever since he was 6 years old when his dad helped him open an old telephone to see its inner workings. Since moving to California he has worked construction, exhibit maintenance at the Exploratorium Science Museum, technical direction at a multimedia event production company and as a part-time professional handyman. His most complex and interesting works have been for artistic installations and personal projects.

After a life-long interest in physical activities like martial arts and extreme sports, Sean finally found the perfect activity to fill his need for physical expression in 1997 when he discovered fire dancing at a music festival in South Africa. During his travels, he created a modular breakdown multi-purpose travel staff that served as a single staff, double staves, clubs and poi, enabling him to play, practice and entertain wherever he went. Sean found that illuminating his tools provided a key motivation for movement. Recognizing that fire was naturally prohibitive in many ways and did not last long enough for really getting into the flow, he applied his electrical and engineering skills to develop a safe, convenient and long-lasting alternative. After 5 years of part-time tinkering and involvement with various other projects, the flowtoys modular system was born. When he determined that the only way to make what he wanted required parts made in the thousands, Sean's entrepreneurial spirit came into full force and with the generous support of his then soon-to-be wife Prisna, and the encouragement of his family and friends, flowtoys sprang to life.

Sean enjoys nothing more than improving things and developing tools to fill people's needs (except maybe dancing with his two 4' flowstaffs). As the current line of flowtoys products becomes more dialed in, he looks forward to bringing new products to market and spending more time developing and designing custom items and consulting on projects.

 


Prisna Nuengsigkapian
Chief Kraggle

After graduating in Environmental Science from Brown University, Prisna worked in the non-profit world for seven years: first in a labor union, then in a climate change campaign that sought to rally US cities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, followed by an international sustainable development NGO, where she edited an online publication that updated decision makers on environmental news and policies and provided coverage of negotiations at the United Nations and other international fora. Prisna has contributed as a writer and editor to publications by the UN Environment Programme and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. She recently edited vE-jA - an haute-design book that provides an overview of global VJ culture.

In addition to dedicating her organizational, design and administrative skills to flowtoys, Prisna loves conceiving new tools to play with. Poi was Prisna's gateway flow instrument and she hasn't ceased exploring the universe of movement since having acquired her first pair of poi at the Berkeley Farmer's Market one Saturday in 1999 (thank you Isaac of Phoenix Rising). Her unique style has influenced numerous poi dancers, several of whom have surpassed any of her personal poi accomplishments, such as pioneering premier poi schools and performing as lead Cirque du Soleil fire dancers. While she can't take credit for having invented the concept of a stick-on-a-string, Prisna independently began dancing and expressing herself with the flow-wand, a tool that has gained popularity around the world from Singapore to San Francisco to Sweden. She seeks to continue bringing stunning and inspiring tools for self-expression to the world.


Savanna Breese
Operations Manager

Homegrown in the Bay Area, Savvy has bounced around Northern Cali until finally settling in San Francisco at the beginning of 2009. Upon finding herself in the middle of that big little city, she stumbled into a house full of artists while pursuing a cute boy. He turned out to be an awesome friend, and she found a couple of poi artists - with some graffiti and sculpture going on as well. She watched them play, paint and burn, and did her best to keep themselves from lighting themselves on fire for a couple years. In 2010 she finally found her way to Burning Man. She saw that poi was not the ONLY tool for flow, and was enthralled by the double staves. She made a set out of some dowels and bike tubes as soon as she got home. 

In flow, she felt like she was at home. She could move however she wanted, make all the pretty patterns, feel her breath, her body, her soul reflected  back at her in every movement. She decided this practice was something she could play with for a lifetime. She finally leveled up and bought some glow doubles from Sean in 2011. Shortly after that she had a friend of a friend make her some fire staves the morning after a crazy party in Santa Barbara. Since then she's been playing with lights, and fire and dancing at every opportunity.

When asked if interested in working for Flowtoys at the turn of 2013, all that she could think was DUH!!!!!. Sean and Prisna reached out not terribly long after (though it did feel like forever) and the next thing she knew she was the warranty elf. Once she was able to keep her head above water at the office, they let her start bringing her dog (Shenko) to work. Shenko now runs the whole place with Kiro - they are a dangerous pair. 

Now Sav helps flowsters figure out whats wrong with their stuff. And sends them new stuff when they need it. And generally does her best to make their days awesome whenever possible. =-D


Erol Efendioglu
Order Fulfillment & Customer Care

Erol’s journey with the flow arts began a long time ago, at a camp site far, far away.

Glowsticks, shoelaces, and a wide range of physically painful learning experiences were his guides through his first year. It was not until Erol discovered flowlights (Sol and Nebula in particular) that he really began to invest his time and money into developing himself as a flow artist. It definitely helped that crystal cases really reduced the number of self-inflicted injuries, and were a lot more forgiving than glowsticks!

His life truly changed after his first fire festival experience at FireDrums 2010 where his love of the art from began to manifest itself. Then, once he ended up meeting his soul sister (Isa ‘Glittergirl’ Isaacs, Temple of Poi) at a San Francisco renegade fire jam, and he knew he was in it for life. Through the Isa and the Temple, he was exposed to the fire community as a whole, developed his love for teaching poi, and became involved in LED and fire performance. Four Union Square Fire Dancing Expos, two SF flow shows, and a multitude of paid gigs later Erol now considers himself a representative of the flow art culture, and a continuing advocate for presenting flow arts to the rest of the world.

Since he was a kid, comic books and superheroes were his role models. Now, with the help of Flowtoys, he can finally be the superhero that he always wanted to be!


Christina Hryniewicki
Order Fulfillment & Customer Care

After a few years of pursuing her dream of living in the Bay Area, Christina found her way to Oakland in February 2015. She'd been hooping on and off for about a year before that, and after attending a music festival that spring, she truly discovered the flow arts. Feeling inspired after that festival, she decided to put more time into flow, and it has been incredibly beneficial in all aspects of her life.

It wasn't until after a solo trip to Southeast Asia did Christina discover flowtoys. Now she is learning all the ways of being a Customer Care elf. She is also learning contact staff and is very excited about it!

In her free time, Christina likes to do outdoorsy things, attend musical events, dabble in photography, and hopes to adopt a cat soon.

She loves seeing notes on customer orders, so write her something and she’ll send some love back :)



Jen Light
Customer Care & Marketing

Jen is a weird, spooky little artist-type who has happily joined the flowtoys team in hopes of being a majorly helpful asset in as many arenas as possible. Though much isn’t known about this creature’s backstory, we do know that she must have been raised in Texas or Louisiana due to her insatiable hunger for mudbugs and malt vinegar products.

Purportedly, she went to art school on the east coast, where she learned to dye her hair and put holes in her head. She might have also learned how to do some art stuff there, most likely to do with animation and illustration. When asked about her hobbies, she explodes into a cloud of black spores that dissolve into nearby shadows.

Extensive research on the internet has given us insight into some of her interests, however, which include things such as “small animals that cannot comprehend their own smallness” and “sad animes with bad endings.”



Love Wolf
Production Administration Jedi and Event Coordinator Extraordinaire

Love is a Montana native and considers herself lucky to have grown up in such a loving and environmentally minded community. She graduated with her degree in Education in 2014 and move to California to accept her first teaching position in Monterey. Teaching was wonderful, but Monterey lacked the burner community she had found and loved in The Bay. She moved to SF in 2014 and put her organization and management skills to work as the manager and event coordinator at a small brewery in S.O.M.A. Her talents and expertise in these areas are a welcome addition to further the continued exploration and growth of the flowship enterprise.

Love picked up a pair of silk fans at a festival in Montana in 2011, long before she'd ever heard the word "flow", and fell in love with manipulating space and time via those beautiful liquid mediums. Moving to California allowed her to "find her people" in the Burner community, and she dived right into the deep end by spinning fire within 4 months of picking up her first pair of poi and building camps for friends every year she has attended Burning Man. She lives a life of Flow and thinks of The 10 Principles as a cultural lifestyle more than a burner roadmap. When she's not lighting things on fire or spinning LED's she loves hiking, baking, reading, dancing, making music and spending time with her dog in wild open places.



Jake Yoshioka
Production Manager

Born and raised in California, Jake discovered the flow in 2008 and has been pursuing it ever since. Getting his flow on all around the town, and out in the boonies is one of his greatest joys. His most notable accomplishment is coining the phrase “what the flow?”, which caught fire among the west coast community, and then rapidly faded into non-existence. Jake is currently a member of the Bay Area juggling crew Cirque Le Jerk, and air wheel gang Team Roll Out. When he is not entrenched in his flow or creating glow toys for Flowtoys, he can be found rock climbing or eating a burrito.


Brian Thompson
Production & Assembly Elf

Brian Thompson has been making, vending and inspiring with flow toys since 2009. Currently living and training at The Vulcan Studios, Brian spends his time with club juggling, hoop isolation, contact staff, sporthocker and any other type of juggling he can get his hands on.


John Kukuchka aka GlobalJ
Production & Assembly Elf

Raised in the Central Valley, 'GlobalJ' is a Bay Area native. A collector of fine music and skills, John is most highly esteemed for his status as "Pretty much the best glowstringer in the whole darn world". When Global J isn't spinning his sticks, he's spinning records, perfecting audiovisual mastery, and optimizing.


Caio Hamon
Production & Assembly Elf

New to the Bay, Caio (Cow) Hamon is the definition of "chillaxed". Coming from the little-big town of Redding in northern Cali, he enjoys spending his time away from work dancing in clubs, gloving for his friends, and exploring his new surroundings. Always welcome to new faces and experiences, Cow opens his arms for a Bay-sized hug, who's in?





Retired Elves

Jonathan Alvarez

Past the fields of Termina, beyond the the town of Pallet and under The Great Koopa Sky Castle, we find one forgotten video game adventurer! Jonathan Alvarez, with his trusty set of podpoi, aims to further the art of spinning, flow, smiling! Although he may not be as magical as a red-capped plumber, or as fast as a blue hedgehog, he believes that with enough work and enough heart that no obstacle is too difficult to overcome.

Passionate to spread this power he once discovered ten years ago, we find our hero set on a journey to reach out to communities around him, host workshops, share stories, and show the world what it feels like to flow! He has toured across the world, held workshops all across the United States, Canada, Singapore and Russia and now plans to settle in the San Francisco Bay Area and create a space for artists, inventors, dancers and creators to collaborate and push the realm of art and emotion.

Spinning to him is so much more than tricks and moves. It is a lifestyle. It is a feeling. It is a sanctuary. One that he wishes to give to everyone who is open to it.

When he is not practicing flow arts, Jonathan spends his time learning anything and everything he can about the world around him! Attending classes on any and every form of art and movement available to him so that he can absorb as much passion and knowledge as he can to reflect to the world around him.

Izzy Dennis

Izzy comes to flowtoys from the wild world of interactive media, where she cut her teeth in web design at an SF agency. While working on a campaign for yogurt (seriously) that encouraged customers to do outlandish and adventurous things, she discovered fire dancing and fell into a happy practice of contact staff and flow-wand. Now Izzy has found her groove at flowtoys. She spearheads new projects, manages outreach, keeps the website fresh, and acts as Prisna's left-hand(ed) lady.


Susan Glover
Supply Chain Manager

Susan Glover joined the Flowtoys team in September 2015. Susan performed professionally from 1993 through 2003, touring Iceland in 1994 as a member of Vallorödsteater and toured Scandinavia and Europe extensively with Slava Teater in 1995, performing for the Green Party of the European Union and at The International Meeting of Moving Theater in Budapest, Hungary. She cofounded political circus troupe “The Everchanging Festival of Now” in 1997 and formed the fire performance troupe FireGoddess in 1998, which toured Sweden, Denmark and the western United States. Susan began building fire sculptures in 1999, showing her work over the next fifteen years most notably in Malmö, Sweden at the Möllevångsfestivalen, The Burning Man festival in Black Rock City, NV, Sea Of Flames festival in Humboldt County, CA, and Dia de los Muertos celebrations in Tucson, AZ.

Susan holds a B.A. in Theatre from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. She earned a Certificate in Physical Theatre from The Folkuniversitetet Lund in Lund, Sweden and an A.S. in Horticulture from The Linn-Benton Community College in Albany, OR. She also holds an A.S. in Viticulture and an A.S. in Winemaking from Napa Valley College in Napa, CA. Today Susan lives on a hundred year old homestead on the edge of San Pablo Bay, where she enjoys art-ing, crafting, singing, dancing, gardening, writing, and nurturing her loved ones.

Robert West

Robert West is an idea. A concept which stands for justice and Truth. As a symbol, he is incorruptible, everlasting. No one knows what he looks like; he gets facial reconstructive surgery every two years (photo not accurate). Friends call him West.

Skills include digital art (videography, video editing, visual effects, 3D design/sculpture, graphic design, photo manipulation), makerism, zombie survival skills, and reconciliation of the theory of relativity and quantum theory. He wears lots of hats, both at Flowtoys and elsewhere, figuratively and literally. Interests include long walks on the beach, and the intersection of passion and imagination.


Willow Solow

Willow was raised and roped in Texas where he learned to love nature and good Mexican food. Intrigued with all of existence, he studied hard and got himself a degree in Astrophysics. But in his last year at University, everything changed: he discovered poi. Since then, Willow has been training with Ewoks in Nevada City, California where he has spun poi as a meditation. He has been called a rock-hopping forest nymph, a poi monk at study, and Guillermo the Flying Dragon Prince of Argondale. Since moving to Oakland, Willow has joined flowtoys with the role of spreading good vibes, ordering shipments in Fibonacci numbers, and managing production with intention.
Willow's youtube channel


Justin Widmar

Born in Monterey, CA, Justin grew up playing music and dancing. After graduating, he moved to the Bay Area and instantly fell in love with its arts scene. Justin discovered flow arts through parties, where he saw people dancing with LEDs and fire props. He started spinning poi, and later expanded his skills to include staff, double staff, mini hoops and juggling. After bouncing around the Bay, Justin is now based in Oakland. He started working with Flowtoys as a builder of new things and maintainer of the Flowspace. He now manages inventory and assembly, making sure that we have every piece we need to bring flow to the masses. In his free time, Justin can be found spinning poi, juggling or participating in general silliness. Definitely living the life of a nerdy spinner, he loves math and physics and regularly applies these to his spinning and everyday life.


Anthony Wolf aka Wolf
Production Elf & Special Projects

Manufactured in Okinawa, a collaboration of Native American and Indonesian artisans, Wolf was a demonstration of the very finest engineering available in the late-70s. There was only one problem: He's insane.

This faulty base code would have been identified early in his operational lifespan had it not been for his being shipped off to Oslo, Norway where his initial firmware was installed. He was then packaged and delivered to Bandung, Indonesia and Darwin in the Northern Territory for further programming. He soon broke free of his handlers and escaped to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where he first experimented with self-programming.

He fled once again, making his way through Norfolk, VA; Seattle, WA; Columbus, OH; Cambridge, MA; and stopping briefly at the Twin Oaks intentional community along the way in an effort to stay one step ahead of his former handlers, whom he had by then dubbed “soulless engineers of orthodoxy.” During this time, he continued his experimentation with self-programming, adding an increasingly bewildering array of programs to his already twisted framework to include botany, physics with a focus on thermodynamics and electromechanical engineering, fencing, archery, knife throwing, photography, hang gliding, and operation of other small aircraft. Shortly after moving to Berkeley, CA, his politics came to a head when he declared his intention to found a colony on Mars, thereafter joining the Mars One program where he is currently a candidate.


Erik Bublitz

Erik is thought to be from the distant future, where sarcasm reigns, and laughter is the new currency. When he isn't busy occupying a cheesy sandwich or making your double staves, you'll find him swinging his double mass crystal puppy hammer or his 4-light 13F custom decorated core contact staff w/ double mass. Erik also enjoys drawing pictures of sandworms, being driven to the fractal harvest, building out sick ass circus spaces, assembling electronic infused mobile action figures, making people smile, and riding the turtle. All while slinging the purest glow in town. Erik has left his position as festival manager to start his own custom fabrication company, SoulMindStudios, dedicated to customizing your life using cutting-edge CNC and laser technology.


Aileen Lawlor

While pursuing her passion for acting and film, Aileen Lawlor discovered an enthusiasm for the Flow Arts after moving to San Francisco and delving into the practice of poi, contact staff, and flow-wand. Her exploration with object manipulation encouraged her studies of modern dance, hip hop, and ballet. She has established herself in the international spinning community with her unique and graceful style that integrates her experience with movement and acting. Working for Flowtoys as the primary flow-wand crafter since 2006, Aileen has also performed and taught throughout the world and teaches group classes at the Flowspace and private classes out of her home in the Vulcan Lofts.
Aileen's Youtube channel
 


Bevin Bernal

Not of this world, Bevin is one of the many transplants to have found their way to the Bay Area. Born and raised in rural West Virginia, she left her homeland to immerse herself into the vibrant offerings of the San Francisco underground art scene. Enamored by movement, artwork, music, and LED dancing that she had seen at a transformative Halloween Party in 2004, she began spinning poi after hastily constructing a pair out of her boyfriend's trouser socks and some loose change. Since then she has been on a mission to enable movement arts and flow, teaching and lending her support behind the scenes in the spinning hub community of the Bay Area. Through luck and opportunity, she found herself at Flowtoys, where she continues to create joy and spread flow. When not in command of the music selection privileges at Flowtoys, you are likely to find Bevin utilizing some mad customer service skills, answering emails, and sending orders onward to a new destination.

When not working, Bevin can either be found at home with her partner, or on the dancefloor somewhere, worshipping as she does best - through dance and movement. Bevin also lives the life of a humble student, studying physics, math and visual arts at a local school. She truly believes that education is the real problem solver in this world, and that one's spirit will never hunger when fully enriched in all of the wonders that this world has to offer. When not wrapped up in the whys and whats of the world, she enjoys creating digital art of fantastic scenes and characters from her favorite books, music, games, and movies.


Jono Sosulska

Jono (Epik Wynn) Sosulska hails from the land of South Africa, though raised in Southern California. A bodyboarder turned flow artist through Electronic dance, he found his flow in high school when speed solving Rubik's Cubes became a hobby. From there, the music guided him to glowsticking, and then onwards through the lands of flow via poi, contact staff, digiting, and fire arts. For the past few years, Jono has been building his avatar, promoting everyone's inner superhero to burn bright, and guiding others to the path of awesome.

You'll find this flow elf meandering the grounds of some festivals, decked in a signature Bright-Arse Orange Hoodie of Doom, grinning from ear to ear. Should you catch him, simply ask "Adventure?" and be prepared to jet off into the unknown.

Kendra Groesbeck
Space Elf

Kendra grew up in the magical forests of the Sierra Nevada foothills, riding unicorns, and spending the rest of her time in her room drawing, reading, or writing. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2007 and after stumbling around L.A. in high heels for seven years, she finally realized that life is short and she should be writing, drawing, and riding unicorns. She has now written three novels, a novella, and a contest winning short story, and is actively seeking representation. She also designs book covers and illustrations in her room, and tends the unicorns at flow toys. She resides in Oakland, a happy, little, caffeinated space elf following the magic in the flow of life.