THE RULE OF THUMB when building out a picture book–based brand such as ZZP — or so I’ve been told — is book first (done), calendar second and plush (a.k.a. stuffed animal) third, with everything else, including more books, to follow.
I’m not a big calendar fan, though, so we decided to go for the plush second. If things go right, it seems that a coloring book will be third, and then all the rest.
You might think that getting a toy company to work with you to create a plush prototype would be relatively easy. For us it wasn’t, not in the least. First I spoke with the fine folks at Yottoy, because their plushes are exceptionally crafted. Well, “spoke with” is a bit of an exaggeration. I sent their founder/president, Kate, a few e-mails and got no reply. Then, by chance, I had the opportunity to chat with Yottoy’s creative director, Peter, at the American International Toy Fair here in New York, and he was perfectly pleasant.
So I e-mailed him after the trade show. No reply. Nada. Someone recently said to me, “Don’t assume the worst of people. Really, we’re all in this together.” Apparently Kate and Peter never got that memo.
I finally was able to get to some truly nice and helpful folks, Ken at Jellycat and Joe at Maison Chic, and although they couldn’t assist us either, they were able to point us in the right direction. Liliana also jumped in to help me explore other options.
Eventually Missy and I met Gaetane and the entire Egmont Toys team at the Children’s Book Fair in Bologna, Italy, and — velato! — two months later we have our flawless plush Pilot prototype. In the end, I guess, you have to kiss a lot of plush frogs before you find your prince.
The production version should be in the ZZP online shop by the holidays.