Do you enjoy working with your hands? Do you hope to start your own business, where you get to design and make products with your own two hands, unleashing your inner artist?
Well, you can start a stuffed toy business. Stuffed toys are just as popular as they have always been – and they will always be in demand, thanks to a never-ending stream of babies and children.
Every kid needs at least one stuffed toy, so whether you plan to produce generic stuffed toys by the thousands, or sell hand-made, unique stuffed toys, you can carve out a little corner of the market for yourself.
Wondering what it takes to start a stuffed animal business? Keep reading our stuffed toy business guide below for inspiration and direction.
Types of Stuffed Toy Companies to Start
There are two main ways you can start a stuffed toy company. One is the creative route, and one is the commercial route.
With the creative route, you are personally designing and hand-making stuffed toys. This gives you the opportunity to create something unique. Many people enjoy buying one-of-a-kind items, especially as gifts.
You can then sell these on a personal website, at local markets and pop-up shops, or on hand-made sites like Etsy.
The other route is the commercial route. This is where you seek to work with manufacturers to produce large quantities of matching stuffed toys and sell them online or in retailers.
Since that route requires far more capital, it’s out of reach for most DIYers looking to start a home-based business. So here’s what to do in order to start a handmade stuffed toy company.
Choose Your Medium
First up, decide how you want to make your stuffed animals. Choose a particular skill that you want to utilize for your creations.
You can create them by sewing, crocheting, knitting, or some other way. You can play around with different types of materials and techniques. The key is to find a medium you enjoy, that would create a product that parents can purchase for children (so make sure it’s soft and safe).
Choose Your Business Model
Stuffed toy businesses can operate on a variety of business models. For one, you can offer customization on each order. Similar to how Build-a-Bear works, customers can choose colors and accessories that you will use to create the final product.
This gives customers a truly unique product and gives them a reason to shop with you as opposed to the competition. But the made-to-order model limits scalability, as each product will be different.
The other option is to produce a line of products that customers can select and purchase. Mabe you sell stuffed toys based on the season, or on the upcoming holiday.
Or maybe instead of the stuffed toys themselves, you design and sell stuffed toy patterns for other DIYers to make themselves. With digital patterns and design guides, you can sell an unlimited amount online, resulting in passive, recurring income.
Choose Your Niche
With your business model chosen, you can then niche down and determine who you plan to focus on. You need a specific target customer if you plan to make any sales at all.
Maybe you specialize in plush toys for newborns. And so your marketing is directed at new parents, or at other adults who are looking for gifts for new parents.
Maybe you are focused on preschool-aged children. Or maybe you are designing toys for older kids. Do you want your designs to be inspired by current trends, or movies, or themes? Or do you want them to be evergreen, never going out of style?
Your designs need to match your target user. And your marketing needs to speak to the person who will buy the product for the end-user.
Branding, Website, and Marketing
Once you know what you plan to make, how you plan to sell them, and who you are selling to, you can establish your digital identity. You’ll need a company name and logo. If you aren’t a graphic designer, pay a professional to do this for you.
You’ll need a website, even if you plan to sell through third-party sites like Etsy. A website is a place where interested users can learn about you and your story, giving them a reason to buy.
And you’ll need to choose your main marketing channels. Will you use social media? Will you use Pinterest? Will you work with mommy bloggers and social media influencers to promote your products?
Getting Your First Sale
With everything in place, your main goal is to make one sale. If you can make one sale, you can likely make a second and a third.
The first is always the hardest, and it lets you know that you have what it takes.
One of the best ways to get started is to sell in person. Find a local pop-up market that you can join up with, or host your own at a coffee shop or library.
Other Ways to Make Money With Stuffed Toys
Many stuffed animal toys are valuable. And the good news is that you don’t have to start from scratch in order to make money with them.
Take beanie babies, for example. When beanie babies were popular in the 90s and early 2000s, millions of people were collecting them. They kept them in prime condition, hoping that one day, they could sell their collection and buy a house on the beach.
Unfortunately, for most people, this never happened. The main reason was that they were collecting the wrong version of the beanie babies. It’s the first edition, or limited edition beanie babies that are the most valuable.
The mass-produced version usually has no value or very little value. But it’s hard to know what you actually have unless you get a beanie baby appraisal. Companies like Plush Collector will not only tell you what your collection is worth but offers to buy it from you to make it easy.
So if you want to make money selling stuffed toys that already exist, so you don’t have to start from scratch, find a manufacturer, and build a brand, you can just scour yard sales and thrift shops looking for beanie babies to resell. You can find a lot of marketing templates like business plans, finance documents, loan documents, free website templates etc online for free at Template.net which are easy to download in all given formats for free. And also they can be very useful while opening any kind of new business
Making It Work
Starting a stuffed toy company can be a fun endeavor. Even if it doesn’t make you a full-time income, it can be a creative outlet that teaches you valuable business skills.
And who knows, maybe it will become a full-time income. Wouldn’t that be special?
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