why do our toys cost what they do?
let’s talk about small business
If you’ve ever been disappointed by the price of our toys, we’re going to do our best to tell you why we chose the prices we did, and hopefully help you to understand why we did so. Some of this information we don't generally share with our fans, but we feel like it’s time to open up a bit more about our business and our situation.
The biggest contributor to the price is the time we spend not only creating the toy, but also the packaging, the design elements, photography, printing, etc. Each process involves hours and hours of varied types of problem solving, prototyping, and finally - production. The Limited Edition toys are truly limited, meaning that we only have one opportunity to sell them. After we sell them, all of the preparation and effort, all of the design, does not carry forward. That's why other toys we make can be at a lower cost.
Here's a good example of how this works. The main typography on the tags of the regular Mini Donut Cats (just the part that says "Chocolate", "Maple", "Vanilla", and "Strawberry") cost us $600 to design. We hired a friend of ours who is an incredibly talented letterer to do it. Imagine if we only made 50 of the Mini Donut Cats ever. That would be $12 of design work per Mini Donut Cat for just the tag. If we added in how much time we spent designing the toy, learning how to make it, sourcing and buying materials, renting space to work in and space at Pike Place, paying for insurance, paying our employees, paying taxes, and other things we’re surely forgetting, the cost of the Mini Donut Cats would be unattainable for almost everyone. But the fact that we make and sell them continually means we can charge less for them. We understand that the cost of our Limited Edition Toys is a lot, but given solely the effort we put in, we cannot charge less.
There are other dimensions to this as well. The broad issue is a cultural one. The hyper-aggressive nature of globalized toy production has destroyed the perceived value of toys. If our time and talents were pointed toward an object of high cultural value, say jewelry, no one would ever question the price even though the material costs are low. It is understood that jewelry is an art form and that the value is imbued through more than material and time spent. There is craftsmanship and style. There is a subjective experience. We believe that what we are doing is the same thing, only the form is different. Certainly, we make toys, but there is more to being a toy maker.
A big part of what we have to fight for is showing our time is worth it. And truthfully, on the on the survivability side of what we do, it has not been. Nearly all of the money we make gets plowed directly back into the business to keep it running. We take very little off the top for ourselves. This is TMI, but in 2018 we took home the most pay we've ever made from the business, a combined $32,000, living in one of the most expensive cities in the country. We don't have a car. We don't have savings. We live month to month. The business is, and has always been, less than thirty days from failure.
Everything we have we put into making this dream come true, and we know our toys cost a lot (we couldn't afford them ourselves). But we honestly can't give any more than we do. We have worked 50-80 hours a week for four years, taking two days off a month. When you buy something from us, you are literally buying a piece of our life, a piece of our effort. The toy you wanted is simply a bigger piece of our life.
We apologize for oversharing. We want you to know what this life is like. We are used to struggling, but we want to make it better. We'd like to have a home someday, and maybe a pet. We'd like to move past the point where we are one small disaster away from being broke.
We don't want you to think we don't love what we do, though. We wouldn't do this if we didn't love it. Knowing that people all around the country, and the world, find joy in our creations lifts our hearts. And regardless of how this adventure turns out, we are proud of what we have made.
Thank you for being our fan, and we hope this helps illuminate why we charge what we do.
All our love,
Thomas & Skye