The ever-cuddly and always eco-friendly Indy Plush uses a custom widget to display it’s Twitter feed on the contact page, enhancing what’s usually a plain page while giving visitors an easy way to see Indy Plush’s latest news and updates.
The “How’d They Do That” video series continues with a look at how you can create and implement your own Twitter feed embed like Indy Plush.
In fact, we were so impressed with the eCommerce site Indy Plush built that we decided to find out what really motivated founders Drew Ruesch and Plinio Garcia to start their plush-toy business with kindergarten teacher, Franceil Masi.
How did IndyPlush come to be?
It all started with our son Luke, who was in Franceil’s kindergarten class. At the end of the school year, Franceil has all of her students draw a picture of an animal. Then she interprets them into plush toys. When Luke brought his plush dog home - we loved it! At the next teacher conference we asked Franceil if she wanted to start a business. Now, Luke’s Dog is one of our best sellers!
Franceil is officially the coolest teacher ever. So what makes IndyPlush a unique kind of toy for children?
Everything about our toys educate and entertain children. They’re edgy, and unique. You're not going to find anything like it in the marketplace, as we design a lot of unusual animals. The design of the dolls incorporate the latest entertainment trends that children love: huge eyes, pirates, skeletons in bright, contrasting colors.
The dolls are eco-friendly, made from sustainable materials in the USA, and by an organization that is "America Green Certified." AGC certification requires that we minimize the carbon footprint in every way. All our dolls are made 99% by weight from recycled materials. The recycled materials are recycled plastic bottles. Each doll has a tag that tells the consumer or the child about the recycled materials.
Our Endangered Species Collection and Sea Life Collection also have tags that describe the animals and let consumers know how many are left in the wild.
How did you get involved with the two animal advocacy groups that benefit from your Endangered Species Collection, The Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund and Shark Angels?
Our National Sales Executive made the connection. We thought it would be good for us, strategically, to involve partners -- it's our way of marketing without spending the money upfront.
Sounds like a win-win. What's been the best part about starting something of your own?
You have the opportunity to influence others with a product that can make people happy! The fact that we're helping non-profits while teaching kids and adults about how to recycle and buy products made in the USA is amazing. Some of the most rewarding moments are when you see a child teaching their parents exactly what we just taught them - you know the adult’s actually listening.
Starting something can be challenging; how did you first get the word out about IndyPlush?
Our first year we strategically participated in 12 tradeshows aimed at the luxury and/or eco-friendly, made in the USA, markets. We also did a series of press releases that got the attention of other publications and bloggers who in turn wrote articles about us.
You recently grew from an online shop to opening a retail store. Any specific steps to get there, or pivotal things that happened along the way?
We weren’t looking to open a store, but we were operating out of a room adjacent to a garage and it was way too difficult to get orders out. We were looking for a warehouse or facility that could help to facilitate orders to our wholesalers and our online store. We stumbled upon Fisherman's Village and for the same price as a warehouse we could also open a store - so that’s what we did! We now use half of our space to cut, assemble, and ship our product and the other half is a retail space where people can come look and purchase our product. We have the most amazing view of the Marina! Since opening our shop there, other retailers have been coming in... especially hip and cool ones. Up until our arrival it was really just a rundown old shopping center with tchotchkes for tourists. Now it’s turning into a unique place for trendy, cool gifts and clothing. We actually have persuaded three of our friends to open shops here!
That’s awesome! So of all the products you’ve developed, what’s been your favorite?
I can't really put it on one single product, but developing the Endangered Species line was a lot of fun! Seeing the creative mind of our designer Franceil was incredible - and she was so great at taking our notes into consideration. We always get a lot of kudos on those animals - and it feels great!
Lightning Round With IndyPlush!
Superpower of choice?
Musical theater history... “Name That Tune” (I'm an expert!)
If you were a Weebly element, which would you be?
The Product Element... because I like making money!