Run Like a Sloth

Happy International Sloth Day!

Yes, that is a thing. And we would know because our family has a mild obsession with the ever-smiling two and three toed varieties that are the unofficial mascots of Costa Rica.

It all started with Lucy Cooke’s “Meet the Sloths” videos. Camille watched the online clips over and over again, frequently quoting (with her very cute faux British accent) scenes of wrapping baby sloths in bandages or preparing hibiscus leaves for sloth snacks.

When we took our initial trip to Costa Rica, meeting the sloths in Lucy’s videos was high on our to-do list and we made the cross-country trip to visit Ms. Judy and her Sloth Sanctuary. It was a fantastic experience, akin to going to Disney World and meeting Mickey Mouse or taking a White House tour and finding President Obama giving out high-fives at the door. These odd, gracious animals were true celebrities to us and the visit was one of the highlights of our month. You can read all about that trip at Gummibunny.

sloth sanctuary

Last week, Camille and I were having a sketching session, which segued into a discussion about computer illustration which led to talk of e-commerce opportunities. This little lady has not left capitalism behind in the US and frequently concocts money making schemes in her spare time. She’s started and abandoned several concepts, from selling her original drawings and paintings to creating “pillows” from recycled plastic trash bags. I love her enthusiasm and creativity, even if her lack of follow through could use some encouragement.

I decided to lead by example and take one of those Saturday morning sketches from concept to product. In a couple of hours, Run Sloth was born.

My morning runs in Costa Rica have been hard. We live on the top of a ridge line high above the Pacific Ocean. That means running my route to the beach is straight down this mountain, via two steep switchbacks. Running downhill on highly technical, rocky, crevassed dirt roads is difficult enough; but I can keep close to my typical pace on the first half of my run. It’s the return trip that’s killing me.

Running back up the mountain is not as easy as the way down. Auto fumes and dust from the roads cloud my lungs as I suck wind far more than I’d like to admit. I drop over a minute per mile on the return trip and feel exasperated and frustrated as I limp up the final few feet of our driveway.

The mascot of the Sloth Sanctuary is Queen Buttercup, the oldest known sloth in captivity. According to the Sanctuary staff, her motto is “Just Chill.” I decided Queen Buttercup knew what was up and I’ve adopted a new philosophy when I hit the trails.

“Run Slow. Run Happy. Just Run.”

That was on my mind as I sketched with Camille that humid Costa Rican morning. My happy little three-toed sloth cartoon ended up wearing a tank top and running shoes. The character-defining smile locked firmly in place.

After revising the pencil sketch a few times, I loaded up Affinity Designer, a relatively new alternative to Adobe Illustrator I’d been meaning to try out. It was super intuitive and fun to reduce Run Sloth to a few basic shapes and clean up my initial concept.

From there, I exported the art files and uploaded them to Spreadshirt, my go-to company for on-demand printing. A $10 domain name registration later, and was open for business.

I don’t have any intention of setting the fashion world on fire; but it was a fun exercise to show Camille that turning her creative side into a potential cash machine isn’t out of her reach.

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