What To Expect

A ” No Sales Pitch ” Step by Step
This guide is to help you prepare for how this all ‘works’ with my company.  My goal with this page is to make sure you know what you’re getting into, show you how the industry works, and how best I can help you.
If anything seems ‘shocking’ here, just ask me about it.  You’ll find the exact same limitation (but not necessarily the same exceptional service) from my competition, they just won’t tell you ahead of time.  I can’t possibly include everything here but I’ve outlined the basics and the biggest ‘surprises’ past clients have had.
Please know, I do all of the work.  I simply need your approval at every step to make sure I’m on the right track.
Also, if you’re shopping around, ask my competition if they do some of the steps below that you feel are important, and see what they say.  Feedback tells me that my system is thorough and hasn’t be imitated (although some have tried).

1 – You Get A Ballpark Quote

Your ballpark quote is not an exact quote based on your exact idea, no. For 90% of my customers, the ballpark quote is within 0% – 10% of their actual price. Nobody involved in the toy industry can give an exact quote without making a sample. Giving more information will not get you a more accurate quote.

Here are some examples of when & why your final price could change:

  • you got a quote for a Medium Bulk Toy (example: a 7″ x 4″ x 3″ toy) and you change it to a Bulky toy (example: 7″ x 6″ x 6″)
  • you got a quote for a 7″ but your design has a lot of detail that can only be made at a 12″

Again, when I make your prototype I can give you the exact price.

My ballpark quotes are less accurate for incredibly simple toys (like a ball) or very, very big toys (24″ x 16″ x 15″). The reason my ballpark quote is less accurate at those sizes is because I do fewer projects that are very simple, or very large. I’ve done plenty over the past decades, but not enough to have a solid database to compare prices with.

For toys that fall in the 5″ to 14″ range my ballpark quote is normally very accurate, especially at quantities under 5,000 pieces. If you want an exact price before making a sample, nobody in the toy industry can really do that. They may say they can but will try to cut corners later if they under-quoted.

If you need to meet a total budget or come within a set price I can design the toy to meet your desired price (within reason). Some details will need to be left out, and the size and bulk will have to be kept a little smaller.

2 – You Place A Prototype Deposit

I call your investment in your idea a deposit because the $500 deposit is 100% credited towards production.  When I make a prototype I will deliver the services I have listed here.  Service Levels are based on the level you choose when you sign up.

A project manager will be assigned to your project.  They will contact you within 1 to 2 business days after you sign up for a Service Level and will update you every 7 days at a minimum (I get great feedback because of this because you’ll always know what is happening with your project).  Often you’ll have multiple emails or phone calls in a day or two when working out some details.  At times you’ll be waiting for a stage to be completed, so an update may simply be to remind you that we’re waiting too but working on it.  Your Project Manager is your best resource to make the project successful (be nice to your Project Manager, they get stuff done for you).

The Service Levels are based on decades of experience in working on projects.  They include enough steps to get your prototype done based on the specifications we agree on.  Those services do not include changing your idea a lot halfway through.  They do not include trying 4 different color options.  They do not include adding new ideas halfway through (new ideas meaning – let’s add a whole outfit).  I’m happy to include any new ideas but there will be additional fees.  The same Service Levels fees show the additional fees attached to each step.  The reason that I include specific services in those packages, and no more, is to keep your cost down.  I have some corporate clients who simply want what they want, so I bill based on additional services.  Their prototype can cost $3,000 – $5,000 because of the amount of back and forth and the additional services that they use.

Having a set Service Level with specific deliverables is also fair to you so that you know what you’ll be getting and what is included in your deposit.  If you want additional services, there will be additional fees.  90% of the time you will sail through the prototype stage with $0 in additional fees and get the toy you had in mind.

Important – The prototype will not be a ‘perfect’ toy.  It will not have a sew-in label.  It will not have a hangtag.  It will not be safety tested, so don’t give it to a child (safety testing is done in the production of 900 pieces or more).  When you receive your prototype you may have additional changes you want to be made to the toy, and that is not uncommon.  The changes will be shown in a photo-edit which is included in your Service Level.  The photo edit will show (to the best of our professional graphic artist’s ability) the changes you want.  When you place a production order, I’ll make a new sample showing you the changes and send it to you. There is no charge for that new sample in production.

What I will do;
Have a trained Project Manager (and myself ) update you once a week at a minimum
I’ll meet with your Project Manager daily to see where I can help you with my expertise
Use the professional resources that I’ve cultivated over the past decades to bring your project to a successful outcome

What I will not do (this helps you – really);
Keep going until you’re happy (your affordable Service Level has a limited number of changes which are enough for 98% of my clients – some clients will never be ‘done’)
Make the toy perfect.  The prototype will most likely have a design feature you want to change.  The reason I make a prototype is to establish an exact price and to show a close representation  of the final product.  The ‘perfect’ sample will be made in production after a production order is placed.  I’ll get your 100% approval at that time.
Change our system so that it is more like how you think it should work. My system is based on how the plush toy industry works today and has been fine-tuned over the past decades.  Whenever I have adjusted my system to do it the way a client wants, it has always ended poorly and at greater expense. The system is set up to allow you to tap into thousands of dollars worth of resources for a very small fee.

3 – I’ll Quote An Exact Price

When your prototype is completed, or nearly complete, I can provide exact pricing at various quantities.  If you need a lower price, the only way to do that is to significantly lower the size (a 12″ reduced down to a 7″ for example) or increase the quantity (1,200 pieces up to 6,000 pieces).

Adding a little detail or removing a little detail will not change your price significantly.  The Service Level deposit does not include going back and making a new sample at a different size to see if it will change the price significantly.  That would require an additional $500 fee which is not credited towards production.

4- You’ll Place A Production Order

When you’re happy with the pricing and have decided on a quantity, you’ll let me know how many you want to order and I’ll write up a Letter of Agreement (LOA).  It’s basically a sales contract that says you’ll buy X quantity toy at the price of $X.  It’s in plain English and outlines further what you can expect in the next few steps.  The LOA will show the deposit you need to pay to start production.  It is 50% of the total.  Your final payment is due when I ship your toys out to you.  I take the prototype deposit ($500) off of that final invoice (that you paid to get a prototype).

Again your Project Manager will update you weekly, even when we’re just waiting for the shipment to arrive.

Any changes you want to your toy will be shown in a production sample.  I won’t start production until I get your 100% approval.  This may be the first time you get to see the actual materials being used for your toy.  Please know that for most production runs under 10,000 pieces, I have to source materials from existing materials sold in markets.  This is normal for the plush toy industry.

At higher quantities, I can custom make the materials just for you.  Ask me about materials, if that is a concern because it can be a lengthy topic, but 90% of my clients are thrilled with the first materials I get for their toy.

It’s helpful when making changes to be very specific.  A change like ”make it cuter” is not helpful since that is a matter of opinion.  Try to define how it can be made cuter.  Should the eyes be increased in size by 20%?  Should the ears be lowered by a 1/2″?

Please be aware that on your plush toy, everything is connected.  So making a change to one part may alter the look of other parts, sometimes to the point where you want to undo a change.  Changes can add weeks to your timeline, so you want to be certain it’s a change that you require.  We can work together to get the best outcome.

There may be weeks in a row that ‘nothing is happening’ or so it seems.  Behind the scenes I am getting your materials ordered and shipped in, sew-in labels printed up, hangtags printed, plastic bags printed, and safety testing done.  I get your approval on all artwork proofs for each piece of your toy.  Before I start sewing all your toys together I make one and send it to you.  I’ll be looking for your 100% approval.  If it’s not approved, I document your changes, do photo edits, get your approval, make a new sample and send it to you.  I cannot start production without 100% approval. Some clients will say, ”Okay, start production, but just change this one thing.”  I cannot do that because even small changes can alter the look of other parts of the toy, or result in an undesirable change.  This is to ensure that the toys showing up, are what you ordered (I get a lot of calls from people who ordered somewhere else and want me to fix their toys because they showed up wrong – which is just too expensive to do).

5- You’ll Accept Delivery Of Your Order

When your toys arrive, please be sure to count all the boxes before signing the delivery waybill.  Signing the delivery paperwork means you’ve received the correct quantity in good shape.  It would be too expensive to use UPS or some other courier, so I use a common carrier.  Typically common carriers do not deliver to a residential address.  They normally deliver to a business that is open Mon. to Fri. from 9 am to 5 pm.  They are not very good at delivering to a residence where you have to take the day off work and need the delivery that day, or you’ve wasted the day off work.  I do make arrangements to deliver to residential addresses, because I have to do that a lot, but it’s not a perfect system.  The only solution is to ship to another location or have someone responsible available at your residence.  I have videos for clients explaining more about this, so ask your Project Manager about those when you get started.

As you sell your toys you may find a defective one.  This is normal.  Right in your Letter of Agreement (your sales contract) before you order, I state that there may be up to 1% to 3% defect rate which is normal for the toy industry.  I’m normally well below 1%.  The reason for there being defects is that the toys are coming directly from the factory floor to you.  If you go to a retail store, those products have passed through a wholesaler, distributor and retailers hands, with defects being pulled at each stage.  I’m sure you’ve seen the outlet stores for Nike, Reebok, and other big brands.  Those outlet stores are there to sell defective products, as well as the products that didn’t sell well.

It is rare, but if there is a more serious problem with your order, don’t panic.  There is no 30-day window in which you have to go through all of the toys.  Simply set aside any defective product, send us some photos and keep us updated on quantities.  I’ll work with you to replace, credit or repair those toys over the 3% allowed defect rate.  Thankfully that rarely happens.  I want you to be happy with your toys, and we can work together to figure out what that means.

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Updated for you November 30, 2022