Purrista Pawfee Kickstarter: Final 48 Hours!

mewcarons-final-hoursWhew, it’s hard to believe we’re on the final 48 hours here of the Purrista Pawfee Kickstarter! It’s been quite a ride and I think the most nail biting parts are still ahead. We managed to fully fund Catpuccino in 9 days. The Danish Pawstry came soon after. The last one we hope to fund is the Mewcaron, a cute macaroon hybrid kitty. As of posting, Mewcaron is just a tad over $2k needed for full funding.

Remember, I need full funding for each plush that goes into production! I know some said they are waiting til Mewcaron unlocks, but if too many wait too long, it won’t happen.

Please help by either pledging and/or sharing about this Kickstarter!

Purrista Pawfee will close Monday, January 25, 2016 at 9pm PST.

January 24, 2016 at 6:28 am Leave a comment

Purrista Pawfee: Coffee Cat Kickstarter

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Just a quick entry here to let you know that I’ve launched my next Kickstarter. This one is to fund the cats of Purrista Pawfee. The star of the show is Catpuccino – a kitty and coffee shaped plush. Once again, I’ve got stretch goals lined up that continue the theme. Danish Pawstry, Mewcaron, Biskitti and DeCat are all waiting in the wings.

I’m hoping to get these plush funded and delivered here in time for me to sell them at CatConLA – an amazing convention all about, you guessed it, cats. I had an awesome time last year and am already paid up for a spot again to sell in the artist’s village this year.

As I need to get the plush order in before Chinese New Year shuts down the factory for February, I’m only running this Kickstarter for 21 days total. Final day is Monday, January 25, 2016. As of writing this, I’m getting close to 50% funded for Catpuccino and it’s only day 2!

Even if you can’t pledge at this time, please help spread the word to any friends you have who love cute, cats, coffee or all three!

Thank you!

January 6, 2016 at 5:58 am Leave a comment

Plush Manufacture: How Do I Fund All This?

This is the third and last of a series of blogs regarding the plush process. Part 1 is about choosing to manufacture. Part 2 is about choosing to go direct to factory or to use a middle man.

You’ve considered the pros and cons of getting your plush manufactured. You’ve done the research and decided to go either direct to factory or go through an established middle man. So now, you have all the numbers to bring your creation to life and Holy weeping bank account, Batman!

Yep, the average plush can set you back a minimum of $4,000! And that price is just a rough estimate. Cost depends on size, complexity, factory chosen, shipping method and where they need to ultimately be delivered to. Since most of us are small business owners, we usually don’t have thousands of dollars just laying around. In order to fund plush, many turn to one of two methods – pre-order events or crowdfunding.

Pre-Order Events

Pre-order events I find can be a bit risky if you don’t have a large, active following. If you’re totally reliant on X amount being sold before you can afford to place the order, there’s really no telling how long it will take to get there. It could be anywhere from 1 week to 7 months or so to meet the goal amount. This means it’s equally ambiguous setting an estimated delivery date since nothing starts until the payment has been made to the factory.

When people are paying for a future product, it’s a much easier sell if you have a more firm deadline set ahead of the time. Granted, timelines can flux when dealing with all the moving parts involved in overseas manufacture, but having a date (and keeping your customers updated about it) is a good way to give them confidence that you intend to deliver a product.

Additionally, communicating updates can be a bit rough. Facebook and other social media can be a bit sketchy in message delivery due to their alogrithms. You can create an email list and/or newsletter for updating, but sometimes they can get lost in spam filters. You can update your website, but traffic may be slow there. And let’s face it, you can (and should) update all methods of communication, but that’s a lot to keep track of.

Crowdfunding

The other option is crowdfunding through a website like Kickstarter or Indigogo. In a nutshell, you post a project that will cost X amount to produce. You offer different levels for people to pledge at with specific rewards attached, often including the product to be funded. You set a deadline (average is 30 days for a campaign) and if your amount has been made by the last day, your backers are charged and you get the money to make the product. If you reach the last day without meeting your goal, you may get whatever was collected during the campaign or nothing at all. Kickstarter is an all or nothing deal. Either way, you may be short of your funding goal and unable to produce the plush.

Screen shot of my successful Kickstarter to fund my Punny Buns plush.

Screen shot of my successful Kickstarter to fund my Punny Buns plush.

These sites have rules that hold the creators accountable to their backers. They must deliver the promised product to their backers if fully funded. This can help backers feel more confident when putting down money on a future product. So realize that if you decide to go with one that isn’t all or nothing, you are still on the hook to produce a product to your backers and you are on the hook to make up the missing difference in funding. It can be a bit nail biting to have something so final as ‘all or nothing’ with Kickstarter, but it feels safer to me since I can’t be stuck to make up $$ on my own to complete a project.

Additionally, you’re hooking up your little boat to a big ship. These sites have whole departments devoted to search engine optimization (SEO) and an established global name. Their reach is global! They want your project to succeed just as much as you do since they get a percentage for hosting your project. So while you definitely need to be promoting your project religiously, you do have the added bonus of using a well known website.

A side bonus to running a crowd funding campaign is that it’s a fantastic marketing opportunity for your brand. If you’re doing your due diligence with marketing it, you can reach a whole different audience that you may not reach through going it alone and running a pre-order. I know for Kimchi Kawaii, I’ve had people comment that they found me through my various Kickstarters.

Hopefully, you’ve found some tips and had some questions answered about plush production. I’m not going to lie, it’s a lot of work and those huge dollar signs can be scary for sure. But, if you have a strong design that you’ve tested already among your market, it can really be the key to take your business to the next level. Just make sure you have plenty of storage available for all those plush!

November 6, 2015 at 8:15 pm Leave a comment

Professional Plush Manufacture: Direct to Factory or Middleman?

You’ve thought about all the realities of getting a plush manufactured and are ready to make the investment. Now to choose the method of getting your creation brought to life.

Continue Reading October 27, 2015 at 7:07 pm 3 comments

Professional Plush Manufacture: Factory or Handcraft?

You’ve got a plush design that you like and it’s selling so fast you can’t keep up. Outsourcing your plush is looking like the solution to all your problems.

Continue Reading October 21, 2015 at 5:03 am Leave a comment

Otakon 2015: Artist Alley Review

This was my second year at Otakon and things got off to a rough start and I didn’t make goal, but I survived. I kind of have mixed feelings about this weekend. At least my flight got me there without a hitch like what happened with Anime Boston!

Steamed Bun plush and Hamburger Bun plush toys on display.

Steamy rolls out the unwelcome wagon for Hammy.

A highlight of the weekend was that I got to meet a lot of artists I correspond with online in the Facebook artist alley group. I also got to finally meet Tonya from Shinedown Productions who’s been doing my Punny Buns plush. She brought me the final Hamburger Bun prototype on Saturday. I had Hammy out for display at my table and got a lot of positive reaction to him. Honey Bun didn’t make it to this con due to luggage space. I was able to get some pre-orders for him. I’m excited for 2016 when I have the Punny Buns with me for the con season. I think this will really help me get to the next level with Kimchi Kawaii.

I had planned on bringing over 100 plush, but due to the fast turnover time between Anime Expo and this one, I didn’t complete as many as I would have liked. I did rush through a bunch so I could send them ahead of me. Plush sell well, but boy are they bulky. Shipping has now become a part of my artist alley prep. I guess it keeps me on track, especially for east coast cons since I have to factor in cross country shipping time.

Sales seemed slower this year on the first day compared to the previous year and general sales all weekend seemed lower for everyone I spoke to in the AA. This year, Otakon only saw about 28,000 which was a significant drop in attendance. I think there were two main factors in this – they did away with one day passes so that meant someone who wanted to just come on say, Saturday, still had to pay around $100 for registration. Also, even though it was months ago, the riots in Baltimore seemed to keep some people away as well.

I had hoped that with the increased plush variety, I would make a certain sales goal, but I came in well short of it. Honestly, it was a bit disappointing with all the work and headache I had leading up to this con – extreme time crunches, other obligations cutting into prep time, wrong items being shipped, items missing all together from orders, etc. This is the last travel con for my 2015 season and I’m pretty happy to be putting the suitcases away until next year. I’ll have the Punny Buns arriving from the Kickstarter so will be focusing on that and getting ready for my dealers booth at SacAnime on Labor Day weekend.

My plush did sell out and this was the first con where I actually sold out of the Sweet Dreams Strawberries by the second day. Usually, those are a hard sell – lots of people think they’re super cute, but they just won’t buy. However, the prints were slow to move and I had a hard time selling the deco den phone cases that I carry.

Even before this con, I’ve decided to discontinue them as it’s just too difficult to keep up with the new models coming out everyArtist alley table for Kimchi Kawaii at Otakon, 2015. year. Plush making is also taking up a significant chunk of my time. Additionally, the market is just getting flooded and a lot of people are underpricing their cases which means I can’t compete. Side note to artists: PLEASE don’t undervalue your work! It just hurts you and your fellow artists and gives the buying public the expectation that they shouldn’t pay more than $5 for anything we do (ends soapbox).

So to sum it all up – for those of you considering selling at this con, it has had the potential for good sales, but this year was just an off year for whatever reason. It will be interesting to see if they lower prices or bring back the one day pass again for next year which could up sales again. They will also be moving to the D.C. area for 2017.

Also know that Otakon has some of the longest artist alley hours out there. Friday was from 1pm – 11pm. Saturday was from 10am – 11pm. Sunday is more normal in hours. If you can swing it, I definitely recommend bringing a helper to give you breaks or make sure you are neighbors with friends!

August 11, 2015 at 6:00 am 2 comments

Artist Alley Review: CatConLA 2015

This past weekend, I sold at the very first CatCon LA. This was billed as ‘Comic-Con for cat lovers’. It was such an amazing weekend and exceeded my expectations by far.

Continue Reading June 9, 2015 at 6:09 pm 7 comments

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