Posts tagged ‘convention’

SacAnime Summer Artist Alley 2014 Review

Running a little late on this artist alley review for SacAnime Summer. It’s been pretty much nonstop this summer. Am actually typing this up as I fly to my last con of the year, Anime Weekend Atlanta.

I had heard from some artists that the summer show was usually the weaker one for them, sales-wise even though attendance numbers are always higher than the winter show. It could be cause SacAnime Summer falls towards the end of the convention season. Attendees in CA have already had Fanime (May) and Anime Expo (July). By the end of summer, money is starting to run a bit dry.

I was curious to see how this one would go for me. SacAnime is my ‘local’ con and I am able to bus in and skip the hotel cost. This would be the first time I would have my minky plushies for sale at this one as well. I started sewing them in March of this year and had been able to really push sales up with them. A lot of anime con attendees are vulnerable to the cute, soft, fuzzy thing syndrome. I’m not immune!

My new tiger bun plushies.

My new tiger bun plushies.

In addition, I was also putting a lot of pressure on myself for sales at this one as it was coming at the tail end of my Kickstarter. I had started my second Kickstarter in early August, right before Otakon so I could promote it at both cons – one in the beginning and one at the tail end. I was planning on using SacAnime profits as ‘rescue funding’. I had set a goal mentally for what I wanted to make.

SacAnime has been experiencing growth every year. They moved out of the Woodlake Hotel a few years ago to the Sacramento Convention Center. They have the advantage of being a large con, but not overwhelmingly so. The dealers and artist alley share one exhibit hall and this helps bring in traffic to the AA. And because it’s not the beaumoth that AX has turned into, the attendees aren’t on total visual overload by the time they get to us.

Let’s just say that SacAnime sales came through in amazing fashion! I made my goal and a little beyond. Thing is, when I had set my goal, I had based it off the previous summer’s convention and added on what I thought was a reasonable increase. Well, when I looked at my sales sheets for that year, I realized that I was off by a significant amount. So my sales goal was suddenly not looking so reasonable.

My table at SacAnime Summer (2014).

My table at SacAnime Summer (2014).

I sewed as many plushies as I could, including sewing when I got home from the first day. The Steamed Buns and Roary Tiger Buns went really well. They’ve been good sellers at the all the cons I’ve taken them to.

I was off to a very slow start on Friday. I know that first days are usually the slowest in sales (except Otakon where I was told that ‘they shop HARD on the first day’ and I found that to be true) since the hours are shorter and a lot of people are still at work or in school. However, this year’s SacAnime sales seemed a lot slower than usual. I talked with some fellow artists and we were all kind of worried, especially the ones that drove up from Southern California. Making my sales goal was looking like an impossible dream since it was already a pretty steep number to begin with.

Saturday was a lot better and then Sunday I posted totals for last day sales that I haven’t even pulled in at AX! Sunday definitely made up for the disappointing Friday and then some. I was able to pass my goal and have a little extra. I was pretty blown away.

I was able to pour the money into the Kickstarter via a friend who upped their pledge. About a week later, I closed out my first successful Kickstarter! The extra money went into funding my SacAnime Winter table.

For those of you wondering if SacAnime is worth it, I would say yes for locals and in-state. If you are thinking of flying in, you may or may not break even, but in a few years, I think it will be big enough to make the trip worth it. Added bonus, the summer show shares the convention center with the Greek Festival and SacAnime attendees get in free with their badges. It’s kind of nice to get good food and escape the usual overpriced, subpar con food. And GREEK DONUTS – totally yummy fried goodness topped with sugar, cinnamon and honey. Definitely get the greek donuts!

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September 27, 2014 at 4:59 am 1 comment

Fanime 2014: Kimchi Kawaii’s First Dealer’s Hall!

Location in the Dealer's Hall for Kimchi Kawaii. Find us at booth 414.

Location in the Dealer’s Hall for Kimchi Kawaii. Find us at booth 414.

 

Yep, you read the headline right! Kimchi Kawaii is making the leap to the dealer’s hall for Fanime 2014. Fanime was our very first anime con attended and our first artist alley, so it only makes sense that it would be our first dealer’s hall experience. Come see us in booth 414. I’ll have a shiny new stand up banner to help you locate me. I’m making a ton of new plushies to sell at Fanime as well. I will also have the prototype Panda Bar plush from the Kickstarter project for you to see. Fanime is the only con that falls within my Kickstarter campaign so don’t miss this chance!

May 19, 2014 at 5:30 am Leave a comment

Artist Alley Con Review: Anime Weekend Atlanta 2013

Am back from my last con for 2013. I decided to close the 10 con run out with Anime Weekend Atlanta. This was my first time doing this one and my first time selling in that half of the country. All my previous cons have been along the West Coast (I’m in CA). The main reason I went was to meet some artist friends who I had gotten to know through deviantART. This was going to be the last con for one of them before they moved out of the country, so I figured it was now or never. It was that and I figured a way to expose my brand to the other half of the USA. I knew that with flight and hotel it was going to be a pretty pricey one, but hey, companies pay WAY more than reg fees, airfare and hotel for their marketing campaigns, right? When I saw the seating chart for the artist alley, I was pretty disappointed as I was in the second to last island facing the back. For those of you not familiar with artist alleys table location can sometimes make or break your cons. Usually the back is like the corner of doom. So after seeing the map, I figured “Yep, this one will be purely for marketing and socializing”. I also had people telling me in a group I belong to on Facebook that AWA was more of a social con and sales were generally slow.

Super cute squid amiguri a fan made for me. I was so flattered! He sat on the table all con and helped sell stuff :)Super cute squid amiguri a fan made for me. I was so flattered! He sat on the table all con and helped sell stuff :)

Super cute squid amiguri a fan made for me. I was so flattered! He sat on the table all con and helped sell stuff 🙂

Well, let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised. I just did my sales totals for this one before writing this and AWA ranks as number 3 in top grossing cons for Kimchi Kawaii’s 2013 run!

So what did I think of the con? I had a great time there. I didn’t get to do much sight seeing at all of the Atlanta area so this will just be about the con (unlike my SakuraCon review). One artist had said that the con attendees at AWA are some of the nicest people you’ll meet at a con and I have to agree. Everyone was so polite. I had one of my fans on my Facebook page come by and give me a totally cute squid amiguri that she had made for me. I was super flattered!

Traffic was actually pretty good considering my location. I think the fact that the food area was at the end of the alley helped draw people into what would normally be a dead zone. And the food! You know how most cons have crappy, overpriced hot dogs or something? At this one, they actually drove food trucks into the convention hall and people could pick from chicken and waffles (I never got to try them, the line was always too long), Vietnamese, Mexican and a hot dog truck that had unique offerings like a kimchi hotdog. I had the Vietnamese food one day and it was super delicious and kept me full for the day. The only downside was that the whole hall started smelling like fried food and it wasn’t aired out too well so I would go back to the hotel smelling like a waffle every night.

I actually ran out of business cards at my table about halfway through Saturday so had to McGyver a solution (there, now you know I’m an old fogey, lol). Nearly everyone has smart phones these days so I taped one of my remaining cards to a piece of paper and told people they could take photos of it. I may do that for future cons, although without the last minute Sharpie sign. People collect business cards at cons like Pokemon or something and generally, I don’t see a huge uptick in ‘likes’ to my FB page cause I know that they all get lost in the shuffle. At least with a phone picture, they would come across it when sorting through all their con pics. We’ll see. It’s something I’m thinking about and may try for 2014’s con season. And hey, it would save on resources as well!

I had great fun meeting my friends from dA. One of them was right next to me selling under the name Yarn Candy Sweets and helped me watch my table when I wanted to explore a bit. The other was closer to the front selling resin jewelry under the brand Sweet Fancy Cuteness, but we all got to go out and eat dinner twice this weekend so that was fun. We went to the Marietta Diner which apparently was featured on Diners Dives and Drive-Ins. You can tell a place is good when you’re sitting there eating and talking about coming back again in the same weekend. We did a last lunch there before everyone headed their separate ways on Sunday.

About the only complaint I have about AWA was the internet in there was super spotty, especially on Saturday which is when most of us pull in sales. My friend had her card reader go completely down Saturday morning so for a while, we were running cards through mine and I was just paying her cash. But as the day went on, I found that mine was having difficulty connecting as well. People were saying it was the sheer numbers of people in the convention center all trying to access the internet. I don’t know. I’ve sold at Anime Expo (the biggest anime con in North America) and never had connection issues like I did at AWA. I hope that this isn’t an issue next year.

Yes, I did say next year. I put down a deposit on the last day for the 2014 show 🙂

And that wraps up my 2013 con year. I’m now working on pumping up the shops for the holiday shopping season which is rapidly approaching, taking a little much needed time off and doing some new art. I need to get some new designs in there to keep it fresh for everyone! I’m also compiling my con list for next year and tracking artist alley sign ups. My first one I hope to snag is a table at Anime Boston in March. We’ll see how things go. I’ll be updating stuff on my website and FB page primarily as I confirm cons.

October 17, 2013 at 2:16 am 2 comments

Artist Alley Con Review: Anime Expo 2013- Another case of the good, bad and meh

Got back from Anime Expo last night and took today off to reset and do important stuff like writing con reviews, lol!

So how was AX 2013? Well, honestly a bit of a mixed bag for me. Usually, I come home from cons feeling like ‘THAT WAS TEH AWESUM’ and ride on con vibes for at least a week. This time, I feel mostly tired and just ready to move on to the next one. First off, the good part…

My roommate from college lives down in the Los Angeles area so AX is always a time when I get to hang out with her and we just love being goofy and eating too much. This time was no different. At one point, we did cat bearding pictures (new internet meme that I suggest googling if you want/need a good laugh). I haven’t laughed that hard in ages. We both couldn’t breath and had tears streaming down. I also got to meet up with another good friend from the LA area and see her new baby. Plus, it was just nice to get a break from the triple digit heat wave that had socked in Northern California for the previous week. Had to laugh at the radio weather report one day when they were saying ‘It’s gonna be a good day to head to the beach cause it’s gonna be HOT at 80 degrees in the valley’. Uh, 80 degrees sounds like heaven to me when it’s been 114 where I live! Isn’t that sweater weather? Lol!

Really cool Vanellope cosplay at AX. And her car even moved!

Really cool Vanellope cosplay at AX. And her car even moved!

I was able to get away from my table nearly every day to take pictures of cosplayers in the South Hall lobby where most hung out. I’m always blown away by the costumes that some people come up with. And then you realize that a lot of those are hand made and that makes them even more awesome. Usually, I’m working on stock like mad for my table so I rarely get to make a cosplay, but I really would like to do some super complicated one just to see what I can do. Usually, I’m just wearing lolita at my table 🙂

I was seated next to two artist friends in the AA which was great. Your neighbors can really make or break an AA experience. I didn’t get to talk to one of them as much as we seemed to be busy at opposite times, but did get to talk to the one on my right side. As I get more AA’s under my belt, it’s always fun to catch up with artists I only see online. I also got to talk to this one artist I follow on dA. He was super nice and it was just fun ‘talking shop’ and also flattering to find out that he was already following me on dA!

Ok, and now the meh part….

AX is the largest anime con in North America. I had a certain sales goal that I was hoping to reach and based on previous sales from Fanime, I thought I would reach and possibly surpass that goal. Instead, I made LESS than Fanime. This is rather disappointing as AX has probably a few thousand more attendees than Fanime. More people should mean more sales, right? In addition, Fanime this year was an organizational fail whale (see my Fanime review) for 2013. Due to construction at the San Jose Convention Center, they put the artist alley out in the Tent of Doom called South Hall and despite assurances that they would widely promote the location change, there was minimal signage and barely a mention in the program book. It took some con goers like two days just to find us or even realize there was an AA. And yet, I sold more there than at AX.

I think part of it is due to the size of AX. I think it’s gotten to the point of visual overload. The AA is in the back of the already huge dealers hall. Getting through the dealers area is like being on a Los Angeles freeway in the peak of commute hour with a car wreck on the side. I could barely move there and it was just not fun to go through. My friend and I largely avoided it other than when I had to navigate it to get to the lobby. Any shopping we did there we kept to the early hours before it got super crazy. So by the time you’ve worked your way through the dealers, you’re feeling already overwhelmed and the AA at AX is also huge and by then, you’re kinda walking around with a glazed look and not really taking things in.

Fanime’s AA is also very large at 300ish artists, but we are always in a separate room dedicated specifically to the AA. I think that this can help with the sense of sensory overload. You can do the crazy dealers room which is always a circus, take a break and then go to the AA room when you’re ready. In smaller cons, it helps with driving in traffic when the AA is tacked on to the dealers, but in larger cons like AX, I think it ends up hurting sales more than helping. As I stated above, getting through the dealers to the AA alone is exhausting and then you really have no energy to fully take in what the artists are offering. I also didn’t quite understand why the aisles near the front of the AA were so narrow, but then wider at the back. There have been suggestions of scaling down the AA and while I know that this will make getting a table harder, I think that could help. A lot of people seemed to be just passing through to say that they did the AA, but weren’t REALLY looking.

I heard reports of rude con staff. While I didn’t experience that personally, I did find the ones I interacted with largely misinformed or rather clueless. When I went down to register for 2014’s AA table, I had to ask three people before I found an answer. And on the last day we had a staffer come by and tell my neighbor that artists needed to pack up at 2 cause dealers needed the space for their clean up at 3. They then told her to pass the word down the line. This I found rather rude and annoying. First of all, we signed a contract stating that we had a space to sell at until 3. That last hour is often when people start doing their impulse buys so leaving an hour early could cut into sales. Secondly, something that was that different from what was expected shouldn’t be relying on a game of telephone to get the message to everyone. They should have told each of us. Get more staff if you need to spread the word. Relying on the rumor mill is just unprofessional and a great way to ensure mass miscommunication. Finally, she had to go to the AA kiosk to find out if this was even true which it wasn’t, though they still wanted us semi-packed up and out of there within half an hour of the hall closing. What if she hadn’t been able to get away from her table to confirm if this was true? How many artists took this at face value and packed up early? Staff need to get their facts straight before telling paying customers (cause that is what we are) about some deviation in the printed schedule.

And maybe I’m still tired, but it really made me feel a bit angry cause it kind of gave the message of ‘you’re just the artists, we need this space for the more important people who pay more money to be here’. Thank you for making us feel like second rate people! Yes, I can’t afford the crazy prices for a dealers spot, but that doesn’t mean I work any less than they do. I probably work harder since my stuff is assembled by me and I’m a one woman show here. If I’ve paid for my spot with the understanding that I have that spot for the stated hours, unless there is a legitimate reason for me to leave early, I have every right to be there for the full, expected time. I really didn’t appreciate being told that and in the way we were told either and judging from their reactions, I think my fellow artists near me felt the same way.

So all in all, I rate AX 2013 with a ‘meh’ rating. Maybe my expectations were too high. I was super excited to go to this one and in the end, was just kinda ready to be done and move on. Both AX and Fanime are on a probation status with me now. I will be going to both next year and will see if there have been changes in a positive direction, addressing the complaints that many are posting on the cons’ pages and Facebook walls and then decide if these are worth attending in the future or if it’s time to start looking for greener pastures. So far, SakuraCon takes the 2013 cake for the best organized, friendliest large anime con. If anyone who works for SakuraCon is reading this, pat yourself on the back, you totally out did both Fanime and AX in my book and I can’t wait to go back to your con.

I have a few more cons in store for 2013 before I take a break and focus on promoting my shops for holiday sales. Upcoming cons are Kintoki Con, Japan Expo USA, SacAnime and Anime Weekend Atlanta. If you want to see where I’m off to next, you can follow my Facebook page or keep tabs on my website.

July 8, 2013 at 6:03 pm Leave a comment

Fanime 2013 Review: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Am trying to get caught up here after Fanime this past weekend in San Jose. Lots of inventory to assess and restock, but taking a little break here to write up my review of this year’s Fanime.

Let’s just say it’s a bit like the opening lines of ‘Tale of Two Cities’: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’.

Due to the ongoing renovation of the San Jose Convention Center, Fanime had to do some shuffling around of stuff that normally all takes place inside the one location. Registration was about a quarter of a mile away at the Fairmont Hotel. I’ve heard nightmare stories about people waiting for 7 hours or so to get their badges. Registration there has always been a bit rough (who remembers the Day 0 power outage of 2012??), but I guess it was worse this time due to slow WiFi and less check in stations. I was lucky to not get caught up in that mess as I was selling in the Artist Alley and they FINALLY had a line for artists this year to speed us through. I got checked in with my first helper and then we walked back to the convention center.

This was me on Day 2 in the Fanime Artist Alley.

This was me on Day 2 in the Fanime Artist Alley.

Artist Alley was in South Hall this year behind the center. This is the part that wasn’t so great. Despite assurance by the staff that it would be promoted that the AA was not in the main building and how to get there, it really wasn’t. Some artists heard from con attendees that they didn’t even know there was an AA this year. When I was going through the center trying to find the best way to get out to South Hall, the volunteers I asked didn’t seem to really know. Signage was pretty minimal. There were signs outside the hall where the AA usually was, but there were no directions posted on the signs. The AA wasn’t even on the map in the program guide. I feel like the staff really dropped the ball on this one.

It was especially frustrating to hear that we got moved for construction reasons only to see that the hall was perfectly fine and they decided to put the swap meet (which only happened two nights) and a lack luster food court which was one stand and some tables. I’m guessing there were some reasons, but this was not communicated to us much. I think the artists would have been less frustrated if we had been given a REASON why we were shifted out of the main center.

South Hall was…well, let’s just say if I die only having done one AA in there, then I die happy. It is essentially a semi-permanent tent behind the convention center. They said that putting us out there meant that there were more artists who got tables and we would have lots more room. In my opinion, that did not outweigh the negative factors of being out there. It was cold and windy. For some reason, the fire marshal had said that when we were in there, we had to keep the doors open the whole time. This meant that artists near the doors were constantly getting their displays blown over. For those of us further down, we had to deal with a mysterious grime that coated our tables. I suspect it was from the air ducts that probably hadn’t been cleaned since the tent was put up. By the end of con, my deco stuff was all grimy looking and my displays had a layer of grit on them. My helper was having trouble with her allergies which was triggered by the dust in the tent. I heard many reports of other artists having the same problem. When I got home, I had to wipe down all my displays and clean off all my deco stuff. Luckily, most of it is water proof, but I’m not sure if I can do much to salvage the cake boxes.

You could barely hear the announcements overhead and the bathrooms were outside the building in a portable building. The lighting in there was super dim. The floor was dusty cement. South Hall was just dingy. What can I say?

Sales were pretty slow on the first day. First days are always slow as most people are either still at work or school or mostly browsing and planning what to buy later. However, I could tell that sales were being affected by the remote location (Dealers and the gaming room were still in the main building). Normally on a first day, I can fill up two of my inventory sheets. I barely filled just one on Friday. Saturday was better. Sunday and Monday were actually strong for me as I think people were finally finding us.

This year, I sold prints at Fanime for the first time. I’ve sold them at other cons, but I started doing that after Fanime 2012. I’m getting better at knowing what attracts people so I made sure to post my punny prints up first. I filled in with others as they started to sell out. I also displayed my acrylic pins better and they sold well. In addition, I had some more expensive items and all this combined to give me very good sales despite the bad location. I was actually surprised that I did as well as I did.

I had some repeat customers, some who came back many times during the con, others who remembered me from last year. One girl always buys buttons from me each Fanime and she asked to take a picture with me which I was super flattered about. Another customer said that they had come to the AA specifically to find my table. I’m always humbled when people like my stuff well enough to spend money on it and actively search me out at cons. I also got to meet an artist I follow on deviantART who makes some amazing polymer clay jellyfish pendants. She was super excited to meet me too so that was really fun. I bought a blue jellyfish necklace and was thinking of getting this gorgeous sea horse, but she sold out before I could get back to her table. I got my seating request and had Ai Kawaii as my neighbor. She makes really cute plushies and I keep giving her all my money we met at Anime Expo last year so try to meet up at cons now.

I’ve heard that the renovations will be done at the convention center by November and we’ll be back in the main building again for 2014. I sure hope so as I would like to continue selling there, but if South Hall is the new home for the Artist Alley, I will not be returning which is sad as Fanime was my very first con to attend and a few years later, first con to sell at so it kind of has a nostalgic place in my heart.

May 30, 2013 at 3:55 am 5 comments

Kimchi Kawaii is Headed to SakuraCon!

ImageCome see me this weekend at SakuraCon in Seattle, Washington. I’ll have lots of Kimchi and Frosted Fleur de Lis items up for sale, some of them you can’t get online.

March 28, 2013 at 4:24 am Leave a comment

SakuraCon Artist Alley

I'm at table #513 in the Artist Alley. Come see me!

I’m at table #513 in the Artist Alley. Come see me!

If anyone is in the Seattle, WA area you probably know that SakuraCon is rapidly approaching. Kimchi Kawaii and Frosted Fleur de Lis will be selling at the con in the Artist Alley. This will be my first out of state con and I’m a bit nervous, honestly. Once again, I’m near the back (what is it with me near the back of AA’s?), but I promise, there will be lots of fun stuff to make your trek worth it. Drop by and say ‘hi’! Ok, back to playing luggage Tetris and trying to figure out how to fit clothes and inventory into my suitcases. All I can say is thank goodness Southwest still lets you check two bags for free in addition to my carry-on and personal item!

March 21, 2013 at 2:42 am Leave a comment

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