Plush Manufacture: How Do I Fund All This?

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

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!

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Entry filed under: Informational. Tags: , , , , , , .

Professional Plush Manufacture: Direct to Factory or Middleman? Purrista Pawfee: Coffee Cat Kickstarter

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