A Toy Unlike any Other...
I was in Canada during my Christmas break last year visiting my mom and dad. A friend had just returned from a trip travelling through the Andes, he brought back all kinds of cool things from his trip, but I was immediately drawn to a handful of brightly colored finger puppets.
I spent the next few weeks researching finger puppets and Peru. Turns out these little finger puppets were originally made by the ancient Incas out of left over scraps of yarn. The tradition has been handed down from generation to generation and they are still made today by the Quechua and Aymara people of the Andes. I became so convinced I could build a business, I planned a trip. By January of 2013 I was in Lima, Peru sourcing finger puppets and learning Spanish as fast as possible. The trip was a success, so I flew back to the USA for what would turn out to be my last semester at school.
In March I booked a booth at a trade show in Las Vegas, huge crowds gathered around my booth, the finger puppets were a hit and I sold all the samples I brought back with me! I learned a lot and got inspired to create a brand...
When I say a toy unlike any other, I really mean it!
Not only does this product have a great history behind it, its also unique because its mass-produced by hand (I have the capacity to import 100,000+ finger puppets per month) all made by artisans who work from home, so that also makes it a sustainable product!
I created packaging and a website (www.fingerpuppetsinc.com) then went about testing the product in stores, at the county fair, at street festivals, at a yoga studio, anywhere I could… No matter where they went, the finger puppets sold! One full year later I have poured everything I have into it… I absolutely love the company I have created, the finger puppets are really starting to sell well and I have repeat customers who keep ordering more.
The product has passed all the required product safety testing for the USA and Canada, I have established an office in Lima, Peru where we sort the puppets and check them for quality. I print all of my own packaging materials and package each finger puppet in Lima. I’m proud of this because this project now creates opportunities for the rural artisans who knit, as well as for urban residents in Lima who do the packaging.
My biggest challenge...
Has been introducing a new product to the market that no one has ever seen before. Since no one knows about it, there is very little demand. Facebook has proved to be the most practical tool to help generate interest. This works well because interested buyers can go to the FB page, read reviews, see how many people "like" the page (1180 at the start of this campaign) and gauge the "buzz" about the product. I can post photos, start discussion, introduce the brand, and engage with fans. Facebook also allows me to tailor advertising campaigns and target specific demographics that will have interest in my product.
Facebook offers a program called “Start to Success,” it’s designed to help new advertisers succeed on Facebook. This program is free for businesses that can invest $50 or more per day on their Facebook Ads for 4 weeks. During this time a dedicated Facebook account manager will make sure I get the most out of the investment by:
• Developing a customized strategy for advertising on Facebook.
• Guiding me through the process of creating targeted ads.
• Helping me track and optimize the campaign's performance.
I see this as a really important investment in marketing and also a fantastic way to become more informed and have a better understanding of a powerful marketing tool.
Over 200 Characters! Collect them all!
One of the greatest features about the finger puppets is variety! There are over 200 different characters, I have created several great collections for the website, including:
• Old McDonald’s Farm
• Exotic Birds
• Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes
• Wild Animals
• Christmas, Halloween & Easter
I am hoping to raise some additional capital to create marketing materials for the brand, strengthen the collections with merchandising packages, update the website and create a catalogs with selling materials. It takes a lot of work to get my product in front of a buyer, when I do, I want to blow them away with this incredible collection of finger puppets for every season. I want them to see everything: Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Wild Animals, Sea Life, Mother Goose, Educational, Fairy Tales, Old McDonald’s Farm, etc… etc…
Its vital that the product is compliant with CPSC regulations, I have partnered with SGS Labs, recognized worldwide as a leader in their field, to conduct the testing. Each color of wool used needs to be analyzed. I am also looking to raise additional capital for more testing so I can increase the number of styles in my inventory and import similar products.
Becoming a member of trade organizations helps promote the brand, opens doors to access more customers, and can add value to the product. I am now a proud member of the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association and would like to exhibit at their industry trade show, The ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas this September. I am also preparing an application for the Fair Trade Federation and would also like to join the Toy Industry Association, so I need to raise additional funding to do this too.
The name Finger Puppets Inc. is just the company name (like Hasbro or Matel) The toy needs a brand name with a trademark. I have several ideas, once I have a mark I need to redesign the packaging materials and logo to include the new name, I also need to include tracking info to be compliant with CPSC regulations and update the graphics, so there will be additional design and printing costs in the very near future that I also need to find funding for.
This is my wish list…
This is a very specific list that covers final product refinement and could really help launch this brand in a big way, to a broad audience.
- The cost for Facebook advertising is $1500
- The cost for the custom graphic work is $1000
- The cost for the on-going product testing is $2000
- The cost for joining TIA and the Fair Trade Federation is $2000
- The cost to attend and exhibit at the ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas is $3500
- The cost of a trademark attorney is $2000
- The cost for packaging re-design and printing is $3000
The grand total is $15,000.00
I am attending The California Gift Show in July at the LA convention Center, please help me gain some momentum!
For a small business that has spent a year working on research and development, it is an investment that would also mean a lot. This product is ready for prime time and my wish list will help ensure a successful launch.
The finger puppets offer an opportunity to raise money for worthy causes. I have pledged to donate a portion of sales to the Manuela Ramos Foundation, an organization that supports our artisans and their communities by providing training to indigenous women artisans in the poorest areas of Peru.
The organization's name, comparable to Jane Doe in the U.S., pays homage to the millions of women who anonymously and selflessly contribute to the development of their communities. The Manuela Ramos Foundation helps to support women with opportunities to earn a living wage through fair trade production and acts as vehicle for economic development and women’s solidarity.
Over 60% of the region's indigenous community lives in poverty, lacking access to health care, education, and economic opportunity. Historically, the Quechua and Aymara indigenous communities have suffered from geographic isolation, high poverty and mortality rates, and disenfranchisement from the political process. Very few of the indigenous families in Puno have access to running water and electricity. Most women struggle to support large families in the face of constant discrimination and lack of economic opportunity.
Much of the funding I hope to raise for custom graphic work is to help tell the story of these people, the region, the history of the product, Youtube videos to show how the finger puppets are made and communicate fundraising promotions. I would also like to explore other charities to work with.
This is an opportunity to do something that has NEVER been done before and bring a product to market that is truly UNLIKE ANY OTHER!
In this digital, modern age, where children are glued to the computer, to the TV, to I-pads and smart phones, and anything imaginable can be pumped out of a factory in China in mass quantity. Here is a simple toy that is guaranteed to ignite the imagination and help children build self-confidence while inspiring them to engage with others and build social skills.
Each finger puppet is a little bit different from the last. Since they are made by hand by numerous artisans there will always be slight variation in the size, colour and features. I think this is part of what makes the toy special and unique.
Please check out my website:
to view the complete collection.
These artisans manufacture an incredible product by hand, have an awesome story to tell, and live in a region that could benefit tremendously from the exposure a product like this can bring. Along the way I have discovered other great items with huge potential and hope to expand my product mix.
For a seek peek at another project I discovered in Peru, have a look at: www.Strings-Attached.com, these organic, handmade, stuffed animals are made by the same people.
Using social media to raise capital for the business and awareness about the cause at the same time is such a modern approach applied to such an ancient product, I had to try it!
IF YOU LIKE WHAT I’M DOING AND WANT TO HELP…
- Buy some finger puppets!
- More than anything I need sales!
- If you don’t have any fingers, or want to do more than just that,
HERE’S SOME OTHER IDEAS:
- “Like” my Facebook page www.facebook.com/FingerPuppetsInc
- Post a comment or review on my Facebook page.
- Take a moment and tell your friends on Facebook about Finger Puppets Inc. and send them a link to the site and/or our Facebook page.
- The finger puppets are great for long trips, stocking stuffers, baby shower gifts, office parties, everyone of all ages LOVE them, tell people who might be interested.
- Leave us a product review on the website, ”like” us and “share” us on social media!
IF YOU WANT TO HELP FUND THIS VENTURE….
HERE’S HOW I CAN THANK YOU…
Anyone who helps with funding of $10 - $100 will receive three finger puppets of their choice signed by the artisan who made them and certificates of authenticity. Also included is an exclusive promo code giving you 25% off on all regular priced merchandise for a year when you buy finger puppets at: www.fingerpuppetsinc.com.
For $100.00 or more in funding you will receive a special gift set that includes 50 of our most popular finger puppets and an exclusive promo code giving you 50% off on all regular priced merchandise for a year when you buy finger puppets at www.fingerpuppetsinc.com.
For funding of $250 or more I will name a finger puppet after you, a loved one, a pet or anything you want me to name it…. Take your pick of all the different characters on the website, its first come, first served! In addition, you will get a dozen of your finger puppets signed by the artisan who made them, to give to your friends and family. I will also provide a certificate of authenticity dedicating the finger puppet in your name and thanking you for your help on. Did you know rare and original Beenie Babies now sell for over $1000 on ebay?(This might turn out to be a valuable collectors item one day?!)
For funding of $1000 or more I will name one of the organic, handmade stuffed animals from the Strings-Attached brand after you. Along with the toy, signed by the artisan who made it, you will receive a certificate of authenticity dedicating the toy in your name and thanking you for your help. In addition you will receive the complete collection of finger puppets and the finger puppet of your choice will be named after you.
For more details, check out my other product line: www.Strings-Attached.com
Thank you for your interest,
Founder / CEO
Finger Puppets Inc.
Thank You -- Robby