Posts tagged ‘fanime’

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

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

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

FanimeCon 2013 Artist Alley Map

I'll be at table 103 in the Artist Alley.

I’ll be at table 103 in the Artist Alley.

FINALLY have a table location AND a map! Whew. Seven more days to go. We will be at 103 in the Artist Alley behind the main convention center in South Hall (it’s a blue and white semi permanent tent). I really hope people make the trek out there cause there are so many deserving artists with awesome one of a kind stuff. You won’t be disappointed.

If you want a sneak peak at some of the items that I’ll be selling or want to keep up with Kimchi Kawaii’s scheduled cons, like my Facebook page!

May 17, 2013 at 3:44 am Leave a comment

Fanime: The TL;DR Review

As promised, here is my long, in-depth summary of Fanime weekend, 2012. It’s gonna probably be a long account, so kudos to those who make it to the end of this post, lol!

Friday
Got up at 5:40am so my friend could drop me off at the train station at 6:30 and then took the 7:15 train out for San Jose. It’s about a 3 hour train ride. I really like it actually. It goes along the water for about half of it and some wetlands and so I always get in some impromptu bird watching. I actually saw a swan on the way home. Anyway, I really wanted to take the later train, but then realized that I had two lines to go through before I could get to my table and set up so it was the early train. Well, turns out I had like 30 minutes to set up anyway! There had been some technical issues on Day 0 and then a power outage at the convention center and so there were A LOT more people waiting to get their pre-reg badges on Friday than originally planned. My sis picked me up at 10:13 at the San Jose train station and then we unloaded, parked and waited for nearly 2.5 hours. It was like a line at Disneyland. Just when you think you are almost there, you turn a corner and find that actually, there are about 20 more very long switchbacks still to go through! I saw a lot of fellow artists with all their wares stuck in line before and behind me. Finally, we got checked in and then headed up to the AA. Since most of them were still stuck in line, AA check -in was a breeze. When the Alley opened at 2, some were still filtering in and getting set up as customers came in and out.

This was my first Friday selling, so I really had no idea what to expect. Last year, I just sold Saturday and Sunday. My sis loaded me up with survival rations and then took off for home. I decided that getting up at 5:40, riding the train for 3 hours and then waiting in lines and setting up a table was enough for one day so didn’t cosplay.

Saturday
My sis helped out on Saturday. She was Pikachu with cute ears and tail made by her husband who is pretty crafty with felt, paint and glue! Saturday was definitely the busiest day for me out of all four days. My fake cupcakes were once again a huge draw. They get a lot of attention and so despite them being kind of a pain to pack due to their fragile nature and just bulky shape, I still pack them and bring them with me. I scent them and so when they are all together like at my table the whole area smells like frosting. It’s kind of funny because once people were told they were fake, they were saying ‘Wow, they look so real! I’m even imagining they smell real!’. This year, I had the deluxe ones, medium and minis. The mediums were priced at $10 and sold the best. In the end, I sold about half the cupcakes I took with me. I was actually surprised that my minis didn’t sell as well. I’ve heard from other artists at the AA who were saying that they sold more of what they didn’t think they were going to sell and their expected best sellers barely moved. Strange…

Sunday
Sunday, I had my friend Anne helping me out. She was Jem from the 80’s cartoon, Jem and the Holograms and got lots of comments on her costume. She was originally afraid that no one would recognize her, but there were enough children of the 80’s there 🙂 One person did think she was Pinkie Pie though, lol! Sunday was a lot slower than I expected. I think it was due to my location. I was on the first row on the right side and it wasn’t in direct line with the front door so that meant that traffic was a lot less. When I looked behind me, the middle was a lot busier. I wish we had more control over where we are seated, but it’s pretty much luck of the draw and when you sign up.

Monday
This was the last day of con and only ran til 3. Anne was with me once again. I cosplayed as Esmeralda from Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame. Got some pretty decent sales as people made their last minute purchases. I ran a button sale in the last 30 minutes and pulled in some 11th hour income. Then, it was time to pack up and head home on the train again. I sent half my stock with Anne who drove. She’s going to repack it and ship it down to my friend’s house in Los Angeles so it will be ready for Anime Expo. Got to talk to some fellow con goers in the train station. We were all joking how we all survived for 4 days off of con vibes and Pocky. I’m pretty sure I ate the equivalent of 3 full meals in the 4 days I was down there. One thing’s for sure, am pretty tired of Subway!

So, what did I think? Well, I’ve always loved Fanime. It was the first con I ever went to and the first one I sold at, so it has a special place in my heart. I love the feel of the Artist Alley. Not to sound too much like a geek, but I really do feel at home there. It’s just so cool to be in a room with 300 other artists who also share a love for Japanese pop culture. I took my list with me of people from dA who I wanted to meet in person. I got to meet a bunch of artists from deviantART for the first time and saw some that I had met last year. Bought some things in the AA. As time goes on, I find myself buying more from the AA than the dealers’ hall. I find so much more original stuff there and I want to support my fellow artists!

I had a much better table set up this year, but I think I don’t register with the lolita community as much as my table isn’t the expected pinks and pastels that are usually associated with lolita. When you’re walking through a room with that many artists and that much visual overload, you start to look for certain things that tell you a table may or will have what you are looking for. I was tabling under Kimchi Kawaii and my colors are primarily green and blue (see my blog banner). I saw a lot of lolitas just walking by. I did get some more of them actually stopping when I was dressed in lolita on Sunday, but I don’t want to lock myself into only wearing lolita at cons. I like to cosplay too. Although, it is kind of funny that this year, I had more people ask to take my picture when I was in lolita than when I was a character. Anyway, my necklaces and hair bows didn’t sell as well as I would have liked, which was a bit of a disappointment. Maybe the loli community is already saturated or already have their favorites.

I did notice that of the things that I sold the most of, it was things with my artwork on it – like my acrylic charms and the buttons were a HUGE seller. Sold out of the pho design again despite taking double of what I took last year. Need to print a TON off for AX. So that made me feel good that people do like my art! The cake boxes did pretty well since they were useful. That was one thing that sometimes turned people away from the cupcakes – they are just decoration whereas the cake box you can store stuff inside. I’m in a bit of a pickle for AX since I sold out of a lot of charms and my supplier takes 5 weeks to turnaround an order. Last year, I didn’t sell many charms and so this year, I did an order right before Fanime once I got checks from my online shops and ordered charms without holes for rings and hair clips. ARGH! So I may take my tools with me and the cell phone straps and just start taking apart earrings if people want the designs on charms. Who knows? AX could be totally opposite and everyone could want earrings there!

I lost a few sales due to the fact that I don’t have a cell phone and credit card reader. Am going to finally get a cell so I can have the Square app for Anime Expo.

On the train ride home, I did my tallies and started making notes for AX. I’ve got 3 weekends to restock and get things ready. Am kinda scared. I heard AX is HUGE and it already took me 3 months to get ready for Fanime! Eek! Am taking these two nights off, but then it’s back to hitting it full time after my day job and all weekend, every weekend. Am setting a financial goal for sales so we’ll see if I make that one. We still don’t have table assignments for that one, but I will post my location as soon as I know! The fact that I’m on crash course for AX means that new digital art from me is still going to be on a bit of hiatus as I frantically work to restock. Hoping to get back to doing some new art though in July! So many designs and ideas! Whew, you made it to the bottom of the novel, I mean journal entry! Congrats!

May 30, 2012 at 6:58 am 1 comment

Facebook Page Giveaway!

I can’t believe it’s May already. Once again, this year is flying by. In an attempt to gain more exposure for my brand, Kimchi Kawaii and to just do fun stuff (who doesn’t like fun stuff??) for Fanime month, I’m doing a giveaway on my Facebook fan page. Visit the page, like it and share the photo to be entered into a random drawing for the panda earrings and charm. Both are made of 100% waterproof acrylic and about 1″ tall.

Fanime is only one weekend (Memorial Day weekend), but I’m calling May Fanime month because I’m in high production mode, generating inventory to sell. I will be in the Artist Alley for my second year. They haven’t announced the table assignments yet, but I’ll announce on all my pages when they do.

Items for sale will be:

  • fake cupcakes (they were great attention getters last year and sold pretty well too)
  • cake boxes
  • buttons
  • acrylic charms, earrings and rings
  • hair bows and clips
  • plushies
  • stickers

And I’m sure I’m leaving something out…. Hope some of you can drop by and see me!

May 2, 2012 at 7:17 pm Leave a comment


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