Posts tagged ‘anime cons’

The Kimchi Kawaii Year in Review!

Happy New Year!

Happy new year to everyone! Hard to believe that we are in 2015.

2014 was an amazing year for Kimchi Kawaii. I was able to meet some long-term goals I had set and had some surprises as well. The business grew a lot as I work towards doing this full time.

I went to eight conventions this year, three of them out of state – SacAnime Winter and Summer, AOD, Anime Boston, Fanime, AX, Otakon and Anime Weekend Atlanta.

At Fanime, I made the jump to dealers hall.

SacAnime Summer I had sales close to what I do at AX (which was amazing since SacAnime is still a growing con with attendance around 13-14k and AX is the largest in the country).

Anime Boston blew all artist alley sales records out of the water. This was my first year there and despite a hiccup with FedEx not shipping 1/3 of my stuff, I still had amazing sales there.

Otakon was another strong con for me – loving these East Coast cons 🙂

2014 saw me jump into the world of crowd funding. I ran two Kickstarters – one in May that didn’t fund and one in August that did. Both were to fund professionally manufactured plush.

The popular Steamed Bun plush for sale at my AWA artist alley table.

The popular Steamed Bun plush for sale at my AWA artist alley table.

I introduced plushies to my line up in March/April. They have totally taken off and I ended up spending most of the year behind my sewing machine trying to keep up with orders. Steamed Buns has been the biggest hit with about 80 sold already (35 came out of the Storenvy shop alone since being posted there for sale in the summer).

I just wrapped up the busiest holiday season ever with sales in the Storenvy that pushed me over the 100 sales mark. Am currently at 161 sales which is pretty good considering I’ve only had the shop for a year and a half. By comparison, I had the Artfire shop for a few years and probably totaled 50 sales over the entire life of the shop.

So what’s up for 2015?

LOTS!

I’ll be kicking off the con season right at the start with SacAnime Winter on Jan. 2nd. Then I’ll be flying off to Katsucon in Maryland for Valentine’s Day weekend. I’ll return to Anime Boston in April, Fanime dealer’s hall in May and will have two tables in the AX artist alley in July. The remainder of my summer cons have yet to post registration, but I’ll be updating the website as I get confirmations. I hope to return to Otakon and AWA.

I’m currently prototyping some more plush. I started two series of characters called Punny Buns – bread based bunnies and Coffee Cats. I’m hoping to have one go to crowd funding and the other to develop through pre-orders. Catpuccino is currently up for pre-order in my Storenvy shop.

I am also working on setting up an email newsletter that will go out once a month with current cons, news and exclusive discount codes to email subscribers. I’m hoping to launch that in January.

Whew! So that’s what I’ve got planned already and as I write this, we haven’t even started 2014 yet. Many of these things have been in planning since this past summer.

I want to close out by saying sincerest thanks to all who’ve helped make this a banner year for Kimchi Kawaii. Here’s to 2015!

January 1, 2015 at 12:23 pm Leave a comment

Anime Con Review: Fanime 2014 First Dealers Hall!

Yep, you read that headline right, this year, Kimchi Kawaii made the jump from artist alley to the dealers hall! It was definitely a good move, though it did have it’s stressful moments and there are some things I need to work on before next

Kimchi Kawaii's first dealers booth ever at FanimeCon 2014.

Kimchi Kawaii’s first dealers booth ever at FanimeCon 2014.

year.
So, instead of the usual artist alley, I will now proceed with a review of my first dealers experience.

FanimeCon has always been the con of firsts for me. It was my very first anime con as an attendee and that was where I discovered these magical places called artist alleys where small time artists like me could sell their wares. A few years later, it was where Kimchi Kawaii made its artist alley debut. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really blogging much at the time so I never wrote a review which I regret because that would have been fun to go back and read. Fast forward to 2014. It only seemed right to have Fanime be my first dealers hall experience as well. It also helps that I have family who live in San Jose so I had a place to store my stuff, lol!

Anyway, I’ve felt like Kimchi has been on the borderline of artist alley/dealers for the last year or so. I have so many products now (just added plushies to the mix) and the average artist alley table is only 6ft long. It can get really crowded on there! I noticed that I was starting to bring in sales totals that would cover the more expensive dealers booth in the artist alley, so I figured why not give it a shot? I was originally planning on doing the whole artist alley rat race with everyone else for this year (Fanime used to have first come, first serve sign ups for the AA which could cause a lot of stress and praying that your internet didn’t suddenly give out). However, I saw a post about interested people emailing about dealers spots so I sent off a message. As I was a bit late in the game, I was put on the wait list and didn’t think much of my chances for this year. Promised myself I would check in the last day of Fanime for a 2015 spot. Then, right before I was to head to Anime Boston, I got an email saying that I was in if I was still interested! It was like Christmas in March! The really awesome thing was, the timing was perfect as I was able to pay for the booth with profits from Anime Boston (which was an amazing con, by the way). I got the contract signed and then it was time to race the clock with preparation.

Kimchi kawaii banner in the dealers hall.

My new vertical banner at the entrance to my dealers booth. And yes, I’m a big dork when I take pictures, lol!

I bought a new vertical banner for my booth as I knew that dealers halls can be visual overload and I needed something eye catching to draw people to my booth. I was near the back of the dealers hall this first time around as booths are filled by seniority and I was a total newbie. I placed this on the outside edge of my booth to attract attention. The banner featured my tiger mascot, Roary and my brand name. I actually saw a lot of people posing next to the banner and taking pictures with it which I thought was kind of funny. I also noticed as I was walking through the hall, that my shop name was visible from far down the row so that was also a plus. Definitely glad I invested in it!

I  borrowed a table from my sis so I could make the most of the 10×10 booth space. I originally wanted a layout with Frosted Fleur de Lis stuff (deco, lolita, sweets) on one table and Kimchi Kawaii things on the other, but some of the Kimchi stuff had to spill over to the second table. People seem to be really drawn in by my puns, so I wanted to have some out front and very visible. Prints were put up on my usual pvc pipe structure that I’ve used in artist alleys. Once again, it was in the bid to draw in people. Everyone loves puns.

Traffic was very steady all con and sales were almost double what I made at last year’s artist alley at the same con. I still had a really healthy take home total after you took out the cost of registration, additional helper badges and travel. The things that went the best were my deco cell phone cases and smaller plush. This brings me to some thing I hadn’t thought about with dealers hall. I started getting into plush creation right before Anime Boston. For that con, I took eggplants and my fortune and misfortune (cookies with angry and apathetic faces) with me and they flew off the shelf pretty quickly. I started developing up other plush like my Steamed Buns, Mochi Buns and Sweet Dreams Strawberry (see photo). When I posted them on social media like Facebook etc, I got very positive feedback so I expected them to do really well at con. However, I hadn’t counted on being outsold by mass produced plush prices. I know in hindsight, that seems like a bit of a ‘well duh’. Let’s face it, some of the plush are a lot of work and I priced them at what I thought was a fair price for the time I spent on them. But, a $30 chocolate covered strawberry that only measures about a foot or so in length can’t compare with a giant sleeping kitty or something for nearly the same price that was produced in a factory in China. I had a lot of people who thought they were adorable and loved how the chocolate ‘blanket’ came off, but when it came to plunking down the money, they moved on. It was the same with the eggplants.

The eggplant, Steamed Buns and Sweet Dreams Strawberry plush along with some other Kimchi Kawaii product.

The eggplant, Steamed Buns and Sweet Dreams Strawberry plush along with some other Kimchi Kawaii product.

See, in dealers hall it’s a whole different mindset compared to the artist alley. Dealers is all about getting that mass produced collectable figurine/plush/fan item/dvd/manga. The general public is overlooking the fact that some of us are small business artists producing our own stuff and thus pricing our items to reflect that. Heck, some of the attendees still overlook that when they go to the artist alley and ask why something is so expensive even there. I’m trying to think of what I can do to get around this mindset. I may make it more clear that my stuff is handmade. This may or may not fix the issue. It will be interesting to see when I do it again next year.

Prints which are usually my strong sellers in the AA’s were also slow movers in dealers. Once again, it’s the dealers atmosphere. People want more collectable, 3d items in dealers. Artist alley is for prints. In fact, most of the tables in the AA this year were prints sellers. I’ll be adjusting my prints totals and display for next year as well.

The Steamed Buns and fortune cookies did really well. The cookies were gone by noon Saturday and the Buns didn’t last too far into Day 3. Lots of people liked the pun and how it came in it’s own bamboo steamer. I do have a list of more plush to do based on puns vs. plush just for the sake of plush as they seemed to get a stronger reaction.

I did have a lot of regular customers who came by and were surprised that I was in dealers this year or had been trying to find me in the AA. Lots of people also congratulated me on the move up. It’s always flattering when you have repeat customers who specifically seek out your booth.

The Panda Bar plushie display at my Fanime table promotion the Kickstarter.

The Panda Bar plushie display at my Fanime table promotion the Kickstarter.

I also took the Panda Bar plush prototypes with me as Fanime was the only anime con that fell during the Kickstarter campaign time frame. I had them on their own little shelf with promo cards and a sign that I had done up specifically for Fanime. I also made sure to put them out on the general information table in the main walkway. I did notice that a lot of them vanished by Day 2 so did a restock out there and those vanished too. I hope that some of them convert to pledges, but that remains to be seen. I also borrowed my friend’s wifi and iPad so that we could show people the Kickstarter there at the table and take pledges if people wanted to. I was able to get one pledge that way, but while a lot of people thought they were super cute, most seemed to be saving their money for things in dealers. It was worth a shot. (Btw, the Kickstarter is still running until June 12! If they get fully funded they will be here for Anime Weekend Atlanta and all the cons for 2015, including FanimeCon).

Sign ups for the next year’s dealers at Fanime happen on the last day of con and so I got to pick my spot and pay already which was nice. No more having to make sure I’m near a computer and ready for that AA registration to launch at least for this con. Fanime has traditionally been my highest grosser and net con so I don’t like to miss out. I’ve been making notes on what to change for next year to improve sales. I was also able to get a booth closer to the front this time so we’ll see how location plays into things.

All in all, was tiring (steady traffic for four days means being ‘on’ the whole time), but a great experience and can’t wait to see how it goes next year! Thank you to all who stopped by and made my first dealers hall a success!

 

May 28, 2014 at 5:39 am 1 comment

Hello from Crazy Land!

I know it’s been really quiet here for the last month or so. Since Fanime, I’ve been doing crazy, mad prep for Anime Expo which is coming up in a few days. I’ll be selling at table B28 in the artist alley so come see me if you’re attending. The Storenvy shop is currently in maintenance mode as they don’t have a vacation mode. Zazzle of course, is open 24/7 so no changes there.

Big news is that I just found out that I’m off the wait list and in at Anime Weekend Atlanta’s artist alley! Super excited about that one cause this will be my first time selling on the eastern half of the US and I’ll get to see some of my deviantART friends that I’ve only corresponded with online so far. I’ll post the table number as soon as I have it and hope to see some of you there.

In other news, Zazzle just launched their new site redesign. I went in and formatted all my stuff for banners and whatnot the other night so things are nice and clean. I really like the new layout. I think it fits in well with my website and the whole Kimchi Kawaii brand look. For some reason, I can’t get a picture of it to upload here, grr. I’ve got a laundry list of stuff to get done for Anime Expo and about 6 more hours to do it all in, so I’ll have to figure that out later. In the meantime, you can click on the link above.

July 2, 2013 at 1:49 am Leave a comment

ASAHiCon 2013 Review

This past weekend, I took the Kimchi Kawaii ‘show’ to my old high school, Antioch High. Mom had actually told me about their anime con a few years ago. This was their 5th year. It’s a little one day con put on by the anime club there. I went for pure nostalgia factor – to say that I sold at my old high school.

Dealer's room/artist alley at ASAHiCon.

Dealer’s room/artist alley at ASAHiCon.

The dealer’s room/artist alley was in the school cafeteria and had around 20-30 groups selling their wares. There were a few people with mass produced items, but mostly it was high school students taking art commissions or selling their hand created items. The con was only one day, from 10-5:30, but I still took the full amount of Kimchi stuff cause I’m Type A like that, lol! Sales were a bit slow, but that wasn’t surprising due to the size of this con. I mostly saw the same people all day long. I did make about $25 more than I expected so that’s good. They did a pretty good job of trying to include all the usual anime con events – panels, cosplay masquerade (we didn’t stay for that one as we had a bit of a drive to get home), game room and maid cafe. They also had various clubs from the school selling food in one of the courtyards. One of them were even making custom crepes which I thought was pretty impressive. I haven’t even been to many BIG cons that have crepes!

My friend came along to help me out so I got out a bit to look at my old high school. I took pictures of the old spot that my group of friends used to stake out in the courtyard for lunches. Ironically, this con was the most time I’ve spent in the cafeteria. Not once during my three years at AHS did I eat in there. I also took a picture of my class’s plaque. All down the main hall of the school, each class has a plaque with their year. I think there is a time capsule under each one too. Anyway, I won’t be uploading a photo of that one here cause people don’t need to know how old I am 🙂 Let’s just say it’s been a while since I’ve set foot on campus.

After the con wrapped up, my friend and I drove over to the elementary school where we met. We took a picture of the location where our 6th grade classroom used to be (it was a portable building) and tagged our teacher in it who we are both friends with on FB. We also spent a lot of time reminiscing about our days there in K – 6. Most of the school was closed off since it was a weekend so we couldn’t take pictures in the courtyard or see if the fun murals were still in existence. Had some fun goofing around in the park right next to the school where we both had more memories. As I was still in my cosplay from the con, I inadvertently entertained people at the park who were having picnics and stuff. They were staring at me like they had never seen a tall Asian girl in a bright striped dress and white wig with candies in her hair. They need to get out more, just kidding!

Continuing in the theme of ‘Small Cons at Places with Big Memories Attached’, I’m selling at DAIcon next. This one is in it’s second year and happening May 4th at my college alma mater, University of California, Davis. Will write up a review of that one too 🙂 And then after that, it’s one of my larger ones – Fanime!

April 14, 2013 at 7:32 pm 2 comments

Artist Alley Checklist Part 2: Setting Up a Table – The Pretty Stuff

Ok, so you got through the registration process and subsequent adrenalin rush and you got a table confirmation. First off, congratulations! Pat yourself on the back! Now, about that table…

Make It Visible! You are just one artist in a whole room full of them. In the larger cons, there can be up to 300-400 fellow artists! Some attendees will make a point to examine every single table (kudos to you guys!), but most will walk up and down the middle of the aisles just glancing and then approaching a table when something catches their eye. The best way to do this? Have something up above either in the form of an eye catching banner or your artwork prints (if you sell them). People are going to be standing in front of your table at any given time which can block the contents from passerby. Having something overhead helps to still have something attention getting while customers are visiting your table.

First Fanime AA table, 2011

First Fanime AA table, 2011

This was my very first AA table. I was selling at FanimeCon in San Jose, California. I didn’t have anything overhead and I did notice that people were passing up my table more so than the ones that had something more ‘in your face’ for lack of a better term. I know we are all told not to judge a book by it’s cover, but honestly, in a place as full of sensory overload as AA’s can be, the most eye catching is what is going to draw people over. I’ve even passed up some artists’ tables just because they didn’t have a very visible presence. It was only later when I went back through the AA in a more detailed inspection that I would discover them and often be pleasantly surprised. Your average con attendee may not have that time or patience though, so you really need to try to catch them at the very first as that may be their ONLY pass through the AA.

My second time was once again at Fanime and I made sure to get an overhead display which I have used in some form or another ever since. I started out with a smaller version of my banner hanging from PVC pipe. Eventually, I started selling prints of my designs and used the frame to display them. That has actually done the best in drawing people in and subsequently increased sales for my items all around so I am continuing to display my prints up above.

The easiest and cheapest way to have an overhead display is with PVC pipe that you can get at any hardware store. I have three pieces – the two posts and one longer piece (mine is 5ft) for the top. I also bought two corner joints to hold them together. The frame is attached to the table with Quick Grips, also from my hardware store. One thing to keep in mind for overhead displays: some cons have height restrictions. Check with their AA rules before buying pipe. It wouldn’t be so great if you are relying on an overhead display to bring in customers, only to get to con, find you are over limit and have to take it down! Another thing, I was suggested use of the Quick Grips as you need a secure way to attach the frame that doesn’t damage the table. Damage to the actual table can result in a fee charged to you!

Create Different Levels on Your Table. Having all your items just at one level makes them easier to overlook and isn’t that exciting. For my second table, I bought those storage cubes that you assemble with the plastic joints. The first time I did this, I used blue, solid sided ones as that matched my brand’s colors as you can see in this picture. Most people use the wire ones which are also good (I actually switched to half and half, more on that in a second). I liked the idea of having a ‘storage’ area under the cubes. The top part is used for displaying my items and open to the front. The bottom section is open to the back of my table where I sit and I keep my supply box, snacks and extra inventory there. You can stash things under the table, but I liked having things within easy reach, especially when it got super busy.

Second AA table, Fanime 2012.

Second AA table, Fanime 2012.

This was the only con that I did the entire cube set up in the frosted blue. For my third con, I switched the top level walls out for the more standard wire cubes. I found that the solid cubes all the way up blocked me from attendees so they sometimes thought there was no one at the table. It just looks bad to have an empty table with no one there. They also blocked my own line of vision. My first year I actually had someone steal some items from my table so I like to keep as much of the table in my line of sight as I can. I didn’t think about how much these would block things when I was formulating the idea and testing it out at home.

Contain the Chaos. Many artists sell more than one type of item with their art. I sell buttons, charms, jewelry, prints, plushies and decor. Try to keep all items of a like type in a contained area/display. If you look at my first table, you’ll notice that I sort of did that, but stuff was still pretty much just laid out on the table. As people looked at my items, they would start to look sloppy and I was constantly rearranging stuff and straightening things out.

I decided to move my earrings and charms to display boards that showed one of each design. I keep the actual inventory in boxes in the storage areas of my table and pull the items as customers want them. It means that I don’t have my table space taken up with my actual inventory supply, leaving me more space to display the large variety of items I sell. I’ve since added small, low sided trays for my necklaces and pins.

Display Boards. I actually saw another artist displaying their charms and smaller jewelry this way and liked the idea. Unfortunately, I saw this online and so was unable to find out how they made theirs, so I improvised. I designed the backgrounds using my own graphics. The hooks on the boards are clear, plastic hooks from Command. I put very light marks in the design to show where to attach the hooks once it was all printed and mounted. I then took the files to FedEx Kinkos and had them print, mount on foam core and laminate the boards. Then I attached the clear hooks with E600 since I don’t need to remove them and I didn’t want the white adhesive squares showing. I switch out the charms and earrings as I restock or sellout of designs.

The buttons are on a small bulletin board that I picked up for $1.50 at Daiso. I bought the easel stands on Amazon after researching ones that I liked and thought would work. Scroll to the bottom of this entry for a link to my Pinterest Anime Con Tabling board. I pin items in there that I’m considering for displaying or storing my things.

Note on the display boards: You’ll notice that I have them at the front of the table. People at cons are often in costume with bulky parts or props. Or they are in street clothes, but carrying around a ton of purchases from the vendor’s hall. This means that stuff will often get bumped and knocked ajar on your table. I had the earring board get knocked over about 5 times before I decided to move them further back on the table. I now keep the plushies on the front edge of the cubes. They can take a fall MUCH better than a board full of little plastic thingies that you have to search for and rehang each time.

My most recent table set up at SacAnime, 2013.

My most recent table set up at SacAnime, 2013.

Table Cloth. Fanime had table skirts and white vinyl on our tables. Not all cons are going to do this. In fact, most just provide a table and two chairs. We are talking convention center tables that have seen much use and abuse so they are often not pretty. I strongly suggest getting a table cloth. It just makes your table look neater than having stuff out on a scarred, scratched brown, wood laminate table. It keeps your items clean. And adjusting the drape length in the front helps to hide all your storage bins and the fact that you may have kicked off those cosplay shoes that are killing your feet by Day 2 🙂 Tables seem to range anywhere from 6-8′ so spring for the longer length to give you flexibility.

Price Cards. My first con, I had one price list on a display at one end of the table. Customers constantly were asking me how much certain items were. I decided to make cards that would go near each item section instead. This makes it easier for the customer and for me! Items that are different shapes and sizes, like my cake boxes, I mark individually on the bottom with a little price sticker. Those get a price sign ‘Priced as Marked’.

That about wraps up the table display ideas. Part 3 (the last part) will be covering the nuts and bolts stuff which may not be as fun as buying display items, but are just as important!

Here is that Pinterest link I mentioned earlier.

January 25, 2013 at 11:20 pm Leave a comment


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