Phebe Phillips is an American author, podcaster, and storyteller. She is best known for her whimsical plush toy lines sold from 1983-2010 in stores worldwide including Neiman Marcus, FAO Schwarz, Victoria’s Secret, and Michael’s Stores. Her creative imagination generated multiple millions of dollars on retail registers worldwide.
In 2010, she created Piper the Puppy for the American Red Cross raising $800,000. for their cause. In her toy career, Phebe raised approximately $1.4 million for charity.
She has been an entertaining speaker at women’s events, and gave the 2010 commencement address titled, Everything IS Perfect—I Changed at Texas Woman’s University, College of Arts and Sciences.
Today she creates The Literary Catcast Podcast, authors her own books, and narrates the writings of other authors. Her book, Why Me? Positive Verse for Loss and Sadness won the 2019 First Place for Texas Author’s Children’s Non-Fiction. Her poetry is published in journals.
Currently, she has seven poems featured in an anthology of East Texas Poets. She is finishing a book of poetry and essay about the sweetness of growing up in East Texas during the 1960s. In 2021, she will finish Sleeping With Louie—A Memoir about being the only child daughter, of an only child mother with Borderline Personality Disorder.
She lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, garden, and many cats. Soon she will be transitioning out of Dallas to live at Murder Mittens Hollow, her home deep in the East Texas woods at Holly Lake Ranch. Murder Mittens is Cat-Speak for cats that still have their claws—they are called Murder Mittens.
Oh yes, she did graduate from SMU.
Stories from the blog…
A Few Fun Things I’ve Done
Phillips’ Youngtown, My parents bought a children’s shop on our town square when I was ten-years-old. I loved to work there after school and on weekends. By age twelve, I was in charge of buying the stuffed toys. My parents would stand outside the glass window of the Mary Meyer and Gund showrooms at the Dallas Apparel Mart. I entered the showrooms with my legal pad, pencil and calculator, introducing myself and the shop, then promptly letting them know I had a budget. The sales reps were charmed by this twelve-year-old, and treated me like a queen. My parents never entered the showroom, they stood outside, smiling and looking in…allowing a twelve-year-old, only child to learn autonomy. My father passed away shortly after this of a sudden heart attack at home. I turned thirteen on August the 4th, he passed away early morning on August 15th, at the age of forty-four.
The Beat, I loved retail! My mother set me up in my own record shop when I was 15-yrs-old. It was named, The Beat. It opened daily when I got out of school until I had to go home for dinner. I sold it when I came to SMU.
East Texas Yamboree Queen, Don’t laugh…where I come from this is cultural and a very big deal. I say this because as a student at SMU, other kids would cry with laughter when I mentioned it. While there, I finally learned to never bring it up. I was the first queen to wear a colored dress. Instead of white, I wore red velvet. I was also the first daughter of a past queen. This is one of the biggest honors of my life and to this day, I carry it proudly.
Southern Methodist University, BFA in Film and Journalism.
SMU-in-Oxford, Studied Shakespeare and the Romantic Poets.
NBC-Channel 5, Began as a college intern, promoted to weekend assignments editor. Karen Parfitt Hughes was across from me, and Scott Pelley was the cub reporter. Scott taught me to use the office fax.
Southern Methodist University-MLS, I’m a Master’s of Liberal Studies drop-out from their Creative Writing Program. Well, actually, I was told to find another program after writing a complaint letter on a professor who wouldn’t read my work. I was his only private student for a semester. I finished almost 100 pages of short stories. When I asked if he had edited them, he replied, “No” and he would never read them, he didn’t have time. I would get an “A” because I did the work. I didn’t need another “A”…I needed well edited work! I complained, and that was it, not to mention $1800. down the drain.
Dallas County Community College, DCCC is the best kept secret in Dallas! I continually take non-credit courses to improve my knowledge of Science, Genetics, Biology, Chemistry, Drawing Skills, use of Art Mediums such as Chalk Pastels, Sewing, Cooking, Writing, Media Skills and anything that strikes my interest.
El Centro College of Culinary Arts, Studied the full spectrum of culinary: basic skills, food safety, and pastry.
Matthew Kenney Culinary Academy, Certified in the Art of Raw Vegan Cuisine.
eCornell, Certified in Plant Based Nutrition with Dr. T. Colin Campbell, The China Study and Forks Over Knives. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Preventing & Reversing Heart Disease, Forks Over Knives, and The Engine 2 Diet.
Sandor Katz, The Art of Fermentation. Studied with Sandor at his Tennessee home.
Dr. Gabriel Cousen’s, The Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center, Patagonia, Arizona. On site, March, June, July and August. Studied in-depth process for growing micro-greens and sprouts as a Sprout House Apprentice. Time was also spent preparing food and juices for clients working with Dr. Cousen’s protocol for reversing Type-2 Diabetes.
Russell James, The Raw Chef, London. Worked on his Everyday Raw Series helping with recipe creation, food prep and styling.
Young Living Oils, I continually study the therapeutic use of essential oil for disease prevention with Dr. Peter Minke, College Station. The integration of therapeutic oils has restored movement in my “runner’s” knees, and been invaluable for use on a daily basis.
John Randolph Price, Author of 17 Spirituality Books, and the person who taught me the importance of meditation.
Phebe Phillips, Inc. 1983-Present. Founded Phebe Phillips, Inc., in 1983. Designed and manufactured creative, artistic plush toys, under the brand name Phebe Phillips. These exceptional plush characters were sold by Neiman Marcus for 25-years, from day-one until the CPSIA ruling that crashed hundreds of other small manufacturers just like her company in August 2010. At the time, annual sales were three million. Almost any small company, marketing a product to children age twelve and under, with annual sales under six million was severely impacted by this ruling signed by President George Bush in 2008, and kept by President Obama, going into effect August 2010. In summary says Phebe, “I did great work. It had its time, and I am proud of what I created.” The line existed for 25-years also selling to FAO Schwarz, I-Magnin, Jacobson’s, Hospital Gift Shops, and better boutiques.
Tweakie P. Mass-market line designed, manufactured, and imported for all Michael’s Stores in U.S. and Canada. Tweaky P., means taking the letters “P” in Phebe’s name, and “tweaking” them into something different.
Created in-house plush toys, and other products for J.C. Penney, Victoria’s Secret, Sears and Neiman Marcus Last Call, and many other retailers.
Created the stuffed dog, Piper the Puppy, for the American Red Cross. To date, Piper has raised $800,000. for the ARC.
Wrote and illustrated the book, You’re Loved, But This You Knew, for use by individual chapters of the ARC, and distributed upon arrival at a disaster scene. This book was printed in a 4 x 6 size, and paid for by local sponsors of each chapter. 4000 copies are in use. The book has become available for purchase at all book sellers under the new title, Why Me? Positive Verse for Loss and Sadness, available in both English and Spanish.
The White House Easter Egg Roll, 1992-2009. Through the Virginia Egg Council, Phebe provided thousands of stuffed rabbits for decoration, and donation to children.
Commencement Address, Texas Woman’s University, College of Arts & Sciences, 3000 attendees. The title, Everything IS Perfect, I Changed.
T.V., Speeches and Press
This section is here so you can see I don’t drool, or lock-up and fallout during interviews or public speaking. Although I reserve the right to say, “Every day is a new day.” I used to have a guest food segment on Good Morning Texas. Of all the things I’ve done, this is one of the jobs I enjoyed the most.
I will say that for the TWU Commencement Address to 3000 people, I wore the most toxic industrial anti-perspirant I could find, and flat shoes so I had a good grip on the floor.
When I look at this segment, I laugh. The show started at 8am. I always arrived early to set up my displays. I kept my hair pulled back in a big roller, so at show time, it would be long and have a soft curl. I also had taller shoes that lived under the table, so I was at a specific height at the table. On this particular morning, I was to be live at 8:20. Plenty of time, right?!? At the moment the show started and the host was reading the intro, the producer stepped over and whispered in my ear, “You’re up first. You’re the only one set up.” She immediately moves out of frame, and the guy host shown here, is talking and walking toward me. I did not have time to tuck in my shirt, take my hair down, or put on my shoes. I’m so over trying to always be perfect!
This was a story originally in the Dallas News. It got picked up nationally, and printed in Woman’s World Magazine.
This has got to be the worst photo ever taken of me! It was so disappointing. I had approved, circled with a red wax pen a different photo. It was one with the bunny in front of me, and I’m tilting my head, my hair is free flowing and I’m in motion with the rabbit. Even the writer phoned on the following Monday to ask what happened. He said it looked nothing like the girl he had spent so much time (9 hours) interviewing. Yes, I had a few pounds, but there’s something about it that is uniquely awful. Mac said when he originally went into Tom Thumb to pick up the first issue, it was a slow walk back to the car. I was having a party in a few hours to celebrate this article. If it wasn’t so close to party time, I would have cancelled the event and hid under the bed. I got a glass of wine in Mac, and he admitted, I looked like I was waiting for a kidney. Then he asked, “Did you make the photographer mad?” A few days after this photo was taken, we were on a trip with another couple, and my friend snapped the cutest photo.
My Obsession with Felt Making
I love to create in felt, marino wool to be exact. It’s an ancient art; a tactile touch of the Earth through natural elements, and animals.
In Patagonia, Arizona Mac bought a beautiful felt shawl for me from a local artist, Susan Corl. Since I was going to be there for almost four months working in the Sprout House and Kitchen of Dr. Garbriel Cousen’s Tree of Life Center, Mac thought felt would interest me, and be a nice diversion to study with her. He was correct…felting is awesome.
Now I take classes with artist all over the world through Living Felt in Austin.
Below is a visual tour of my work. Items are not for sale yet, but will be in the future. I make so many pieces, I can’t keep them all.
Discoveries of a Better Life Through Food Choices
When my business changed I went back to school for Science to quell my grief. It turned into a life-changing, life-giving food path.
I was so lost. My factory studio, which I had driven to daily for twenty-plus-years no longer existed. My long time employees which were my family were in jobs at other locations. I had no reason to think to the future, no toy lines to create, no sketches to draw. I never had kids because I loved my business, my characters, my customers, and I wasn’t willing to give that up. Almost everything in my world was murdered with an over-reaching government regulation. I was on suicide watch for a week. It felt terrible. The sadness was long-term and overwhelming.
In an effort to take my mind somewhere else, I decided I needed to learn and think all new thoughts…like learn to speak Mandarin, or Russian, or sign up for Biology.
I signed up for summer Biology at the community college. In the six week course, I got strep throat twice. I quickly realized I had signed up for new bugs both literally and physically, but the ATP cycle was awesome. Biology lead to the study of more Biology, Microbiology, followed by Chemistry and Genetics.
My Genetics professor was from UTSW, and worked on the Human Genome Project. I failed her first test. A few days later I went to her to say I didn’t think I was ready for her class. She replied that I had done very well.
“How?” I asked. “I failed.”
“No, I remember you did very well, one of the better grades,” she replied. “Let’s look,” she continued scrolling her computer screen for my name, as I looked over her shoulder totally perplexed at this conversation. “See, you got a 62. You did great!”
“But I failed,” I replied, dazed by her response.
“Look, there’s a 100 from a student that’s a government forensic employee. She comes to class annually to stay current. There’s a 94 from this student. This is her last class before medical school. And there you are at 62. You’re number three in the class. You did great! You’re staying!” she said with a convincing absoluteness.
I stayed. Six weeks later, half the class had dropped with more to follow. I cried through every test, my papers blurring from tears on the lenses of my readers. I finished with a very proud A. I think it was the best class I have ever had in my life.
In an interesting twist, I was mesmerized by the human body. If I had discovered this in my true college years, I’m pretty certain I would’ve been a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.
All this Science lead me to thinking better about myself, and my body. How miraculously we are designed. Yet, most people daily fill it with junk fuel. This was life-changing and life-giving information.
I enrolled in Matthew Kenney Culinary Academy when it was in OKC. Now it’s in Venice, California. I am certified in Raw Vegan Culinary. This lead to a detailed study of Forks Over Knives, and The China Study with Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and Dr. T. Colin Campbell, followed with Plant Based Nutrition from eCornell with Dr. Campbell.
I spent almost four months in Patagonia, Arizona at The Tree of Life under the direction of Dr. Gabriel Cousen’s. He’s noted for cancer cures and reversing Type 2. Through his facility I became a Master at Growing Micro-Greens and Sprouts, and worked on his property in one of the most famous Raw Vegan Kitchens in the world.
Through an opportunity with one of the chefs that trained me at Matthew Kenney, I flew to London to do food prep and assist Russell James, known as The Raw Chef with production of his Everyday Raw Series.
Mac and I lost weight. We weren’t fat, but we were fluffy. We now lead more productive and healthier lives because my life took this path. I have attended a lot of workshops, and studied with many Masters.
Certifications and Workshops
- Certified in Raw Vegan Cuisine
- Certified in Plant-Based Nutrition, eCornell with Dr. T. Colin Campbell
- Fermentation workshop at the Tennessee home with Sandor Katz, author of Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation.
- Apprenticeship at Dr. Gabriel Cousen’s Tree of Life in Patagonia, Arizona. Worked in the kitchen preparing three meals a day for 30-plus guests. Interned and managed The Sprout House growing micro-greens and clovers. Trained by, and assisted Matt Jager.
- Worked with Russell James—The Raw Chef, at his Brixton studio worked on recipe creation, food prep and styling for his Everyday Raw Food Series.
- Studied with Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and Dr. T. Colin Campbell: Forks Over Knives and The China Study, Preventing & Reversing Heart Disease and The Engine 2 Diet.
- Studied the full spectrum of culinary; basic skills, food safety, and pastry at El Centro College of Culinary Arts.