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Shawnimals website. All images by Shawnimals and used with permission.

Today I’m very excited to bring you an interview with Shawn Smith, the creator of Shawnimals. I contacted Shawn because he has a thriving plush business that includes both handmade toys and toys he’s designed and had manufactured in China and then distributed to stores in the US.HM-moustachio-blonde_large

I know that having toy designs manufactured is a dream of many indie plush makers. I get emails every week asking if I know anything about the process, how much it costs, how to get started, and who to contact. Until now when I got these emails I would respond saying that all I knew was getting toys manufactured is expensive and that there is a large minimum order required (in the thousands of pieces).

Shawn SmithShawn Smith

What makes indie plush makers consider manufacturing? Well, sewing hundreds of the same toy by hand to fill a huge wholesale order can be “unfun” as Shawn says, but turning down the order can be bad for your business. If you could just focus on design work and have your toys sewn in a factory you’d be able to meet these wholesale orders easily, and take on even more. And you never know, with national distribution your toys could really take off like Ugly Dolls have done, launching your tiny, indie toy company into an international industry.

Shawn has been incredibly generous in our talk, sharing his knowledge and experience with toy manufacturing, including lots of useful and practical details. If you’ve ever dreamed of seeing your toy designs widely distributed, or fantasized about not have to sew every single piece by hand to meet a wholesale order, I think you’ll enjoy this interview.

Giant Wee Ninjas and Wee Ninjas by Shawnimals

Shawn and I talk for about 20 minutes. Listen by clicking below or subscribe to the podcast in iTunes for free.

In our talk, Shawn refers to DKE Toys, an independent wholesale distributor of designer toys. Shawn also talks about independent toy testing labs such as this one.


What did you think of Shawn’s experience? Do you have any follow up questions for him? Does hearing his story make you reevaluate your plans or push you toward taking the manufacturing plunge? Please share in the comments.



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