I first learned about Enky Skulls through Instagram and followed the brand for months admiring their work. When I looked at their website, they intrigued me even more--a small business run by a handful of people who create and produce their own plush toys and are still able to keep their prices low. After meeting creators, Steve Guerra and Jessica Miranda at Designer Con in Pasadena earlier this month, they were everything I hoped for and more! Super nice people with enormous talent that have a passion for their work that bursts through the seams of their fun and huggable plush. They were nice enough to answer some questions I had about their business and share some photos of their work.
How did you get started in creating plush?
We all met at Otis College of Art and Design in the Toy Design Program. When we graduated there were no jobs that we can find so we decided to create our own. That's how Enkyskulls was born, just a group of friends wanting to create something original and affordable to show the world. Sinçe then members of our group have been working in the toy industry. But have always remain faithfull to our own work.
How big is your team and what roles do everyone play in the company?
We started with 4 members:
Steve Guerra - (creater of Enky) I tried my best to keep the group together and book new shows throùgh out the year. While also, designing new Enky and keeping up with the social media.
Jessica Miranda- (Creator of Nessy and Dinos) creates patterns for the more complicated designs. While keeping order of all designs, online store, and website.
Elsy Mendez- (Chelsybear creator of the cupcake plush) helps us with vendor relations. When we have a question on manufacturing she can explain to us and make it happen.
Chance Matsumato-(moral support and Designer) when he lived in California he went with us to all the shows big or small. He created our first website and flyers for RBD (Red Baron Kustoms). He moved back home to Hawaii last year to be with family.
Are you able to work on Enky Skulls full time?
Our goal is to be able to work on Enkyskulls full time. We have each have day jobs, some full-time and others are doing part-time freelance work. Funny enough that when I got laid off during the beginning of this year I had more work at home waiting for me. (Steve Guerra)
The affordability of Enky Skulls is a major advertising point on your website, how did you decide between being an affordable brand and artists that charge much more?
We've all seen artist plush or artworks that we just couldn't justify spending so much money on. And nothing against those artists, they create beautiful stuff and can price it however they want. But we started with the intention of making everything affordable and keeping production local. Having worked in the industry on mass produced items, we we're familiar with trying to design items with very small budgets. So when creating something new, we do our best to simply our patterns and manage the time put into each item. By doing that we put more cost into quality and still be able to produce a reasonable amount of items to take with us at shows.
It mostly came down to our desire to have more people enjoying our work rather then us hanging onto a bunch of items.
Do you have any production tips for those that want to create plush in a faster, more efficient way but still maintaining the quality that you have?
We believe in simplicity, if the pattern is managable then your prices can be more affordable. Also, creating a variety of price points, with more price points you've given yourself more opportunities to create new designs and giving your audience a better opportunity to appreciate your work. Say someone is a fan of your work but can't afford your big ticket items, they can still walk away with a smaller piece that they can enjoy.
Also, reaching out to local studios, we are able to lower cost by working with local businesses. This way, we talk to a supplier in person and pick up supplies in person instead of having to ship items all the time. We keep good relationships with these people and many times we're able to help each other on different projects, or share helpful info.
Do you think you will ever hire a manufacturer to help with production?
It is something we've thought about and have been steering away from. If we were ever to hire a manufacture it has to be local to Los Angeles or a California based production site. Hopefully it's someone who is starting their own company. We would love to work with someone new.
Visit enkyskulls.com to see more work and own an Enky for yourself!