Posts tagged ‘otakon’

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

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

Otakon 2014: Artist Alley Review

Kimchi Kawaii had the lottery gods smile on me this year and I was able to sell at the Otakon artist alley in  Baltimore, Maryland. I was super worried about making good sales as, holy expensive hotels, Batman! People really seemed to like my stuff though so I actually made a pretty good profit.

There were lots of complaints about registration and the infamous name ‘LineCon’ was batted around – that tag that no con wants to get cause it pretty much means you screwed something up badly. Some people on the artist side were complaining about poor sales on Friday due to everyone being stuck in line. I guess it didn’t phase me much after Anime Expo. You want a LineCon, look at AX’s 2014 mess. With the 8-10 hour waits in the upper 90’s heat – now THAT’S a LineCon!

This was my table on Day 2 when I had already sold a lot of the plush.

This was my table on Day 2 when I had already sold a lot of the plush.

I actually did my best sales on Friday as that’s when I sold nearly all my plushies. I had brought 6 of each Mochi Bun color (pink, white and green tea) and 11-12 Steamed Buns. I also had 5 Roary buns and 20 Fortune and Misfortune Cookies and one eggplant that someone had indicated they wanted prior to me going to con (I held it for them and sure enough, they came straight away and got it). The Steamed Buns and Cookies were a big hit. By the end of the day, I had three cookies and no Steamed Buns. The tigers were gone as well and I only had a few Mochi Buns left.

Clearly, I need to sew more plush for my next two cons!

On the way over to the convention center from the airport, I shared a shuttle van with two other artists. One of them said that day one sales at Otakon tend to be really strong, which is usually not the trend at cons. Usually, you mostly get people browsing and trying to decide what to buy. They start spending on the other two days. I have to agree with what she said. It definitely felt busier for me on Friday than is usual

Sales were strong throughout the weekend. Sunday I had a lot of the ‘It’s almost over and I may not ever see this person

Promoting the Kickstarter at my table.

Promoting the Kickstarter at my table.

again (or have to pay shipping)’ sales. I was actually able to come back with just two checked bags and my one personal item. I had ditched the carry on bag I had with me on the way there as the handle was broken and considering that thing had been with me on three international trips and numerous cons, it was on it’s last legs anyway.

I was also promoting my currently running Kickstarter (ends Sept. 9, 2014) for my Sweet Dreams plush. I handed out all my promo cards and buttons. People seemed really interested. I hope it translates into pledges. I know that people usually come home with a ton of information post con and it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. I’ll be promoting at SacAnime at the end of August.

For this con, I also tried an experiment. In the art group I belong to, there had been a discussion about the worth of selling buttons which for most of us are our ‘cheapy’ item to draw in any sale possible. One person brought up the argument that having buttons actually hurt sales rather than helped as people would see the cheap item and opt for that most of the time vs. getting something with the same design on it at a higher price.

Buttons are a pretty big thing at anime cons. Con goers like to wear their weight in buttons, especially on the West Coast. I’m not kidding. It’s like the otaku version of a knight’s armor, lol! I had offered buttons from the get go as it just seemed like the thing to do. I sold them for $2 each or 3 for $5. Most people would opt to go for the set which I think helped me to not fall into the super cheap sale pit, but still, I was curious.

Taking enough buttons, especially of my popular designs usually means a significant amount of weight. When I’m flying to a con with other inventory AND my display items and a 50 pound per checked bag limit, this can get tricky. I don’t even dare to try taking them through as a carry on cause I can just imagine that the thought of a passenger having like 200 little sharp objects in the cabin would give a TSA agent nightmares for years.

Buttons are also time and materials consuming. They keep eating up my ink cartridges and take a few hours to make a good batch. And as one of my fellow artists pointed out, ‘You sell acrylic pins AND buttons? Ditch the buttons for sure’!

So yeah, put aside that little part that was a bit timid in removing something that so many con goers liked and flew off to Baltimore sans buttons.

And you know what? Sales didn’t suffer. I didn’t have a mass revolt. And not one single person asked if I had buttons.

Otakon’s (and most cons’) tables are 6 ft long and about 2ft deep. I’m usually pushing my space to the limit since I have so much stuff. Since I didn’t have the button board, I was able to put other things in a more prominent location on the table. For the first time since introducing them, I sold a ton of magnets, actually running out of some designs. The pins went really well too.

TL;DR: the button experiment was a success, I’d say 🙂

Side note for those of you who are reading this with the intent of seeing if Otakon is a con you would like to try: there is hardly any food around the convention center.

Ok, I take that back, there is hardly any cheap to moderately priced food in the area. Lots of steak houses and fancy restaurants, but not much in the way of cheap eats. Also, artist alley hours run to 10pm. This means that when you get out of con, nearly everything is closed. I was kind of missing the Hynes Convention Center in Boston which has a Trader Joe’s right across the street and allowed me to get some fruit for snacks. I pretty much lived off Subway all weekend for breakfast and linner (that’s lunch and dinner combined since I had to make it stretch due to the long hours). I really don’t want to see another Subway sandwich again until I absolutely have to – i.e. the next anime con with no other options for food.

As for other stuff related to my first trip to Baltimore…

The convention center is right next to the Inner Harbor which is also home to the National Aquarium. Con wrapped up at 3 on Sunday and I was out by 4. I dropped off the stuff at the hotel and then headed to the aquarium. I really enjoyed looking at everything there. The jellyfish were especially fascinating to me and I think I got some pretty good photos. I also walked around a bit and tried out crab cakes which Maryland is known for. They were good, but I would have actually liked a bit more crab flavor.

I also walked up Federal Hill which south of my hotel. There were some historic houses there which I loved looking at. I found another area that I wish I could have explored a bit more beyond the houses, but alas, I was out of time. I had to get back to the hotel to catch my shuttle to the airport.

So all in all, I had a ton of fun and made some amazing sales. I’m hoping to come back again in 2015. Let’s hope the lottery is kind to me again!

August 17, 2014 at 6:31 pm 1 comment

Artist Alley: Otakon 2014!

Come see Kimchi Kawaii in the Otakon 2014 artist alley at table S06!

Come see Kimchi Kawaii in the Otakon 2014 artist alley at table S06!

I’m getting ready to head out to my first Otakon! I’m based in CA, so I don’t get over to the east coast very often. I hope you’ll come visit me at my table in the artist alley, S06! I’ll have lots of cute stuff like my pun prints, pins, and plushies (that’s a bit of a tongue twister, lol).

I will also be promoting the Sweet Dreams Kickstarter which is running now. I will have one of the limited edition backer rewards with me – the Roary scarf by RosaleenDhu Designs. I will also have one of the Sakura Mochi Bun plush and of course, be on hand to answer any questions you may have 🙂

August 6, 2014 at 4:43 am Leave a comment


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