Over the past few years, there is a growing number of designers. One that has been in our radar for quite some time is none other than Mochi Buddies whom we met in a local craft market in 2018.
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Mochi Buddies is run by Jean and Aiden. Together they produce merchandise out of their 5 original characters, momo the unicorn, kitkat the cat, floflo the rabbit, spottie the dog and panpan the panda.
These mochis are illustrated with clean and bold lines with solid and vibrant colours and of course in the shape of mochi. Their vibrant and cute mochi designs totally caught our breath and we are very intrigued by how their characters interact with one another! Her Momo and Floflo are our favourites!
Their first merchandise series consists of 10 stickers and 10 keychains with only 300+ followers. In a mere 4 years, they’re now at a fantastic 12.8k following on Instagram. That’s sheer hard work!
Furthermore, they are doing this business part time, both of them have a full time job. Their passion and determination is what brought them to where they are today.
How did you develop your characters?
Jean developed her characters based on pets that most Singaporeans love and the local favourites.
As mochi is their favourite food, they decided to use mochi as the base shape. They are round and cute with small limbs with a slanted mouth. A very chibi look!
Where did you get your inspiration from?
First thing Jean shouted out is @butanbun because she likes her art style! She also draws inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram.
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What makes them standout from the crowd?
Being active in design markets, sharing their designs and engaging fans. That has created a loyal fan base because they are receptive to customer feedbacks and constantly evolving to the market’s demand.
All the products are beautifully packed. Are they all done in the factory?
No. All are done by hand.
When it comes to packing the products, it’s not a 1-hour kind of thing. There was once I was helping out my friend, Lydia from @solydefy who would be boothing for her first time. It took days to quality check and sort the keychains into different grades.
Once sorted, the keychains are to be pinned onto a printed card backing, which is specially designed and printed for each keychain design. And finally slotted it into a plastic sleeve.
Imagine… repeat 300 times.. per design 😀
This is just the post production. What about the pre-production?
Understanding the market
The only way to find out is by testing it through preorders before committing to manufacturing in bulk. There’s always a risk in running a business. The best way to get around is to minimise it.
Expecting failures in the production phase
Despite already a seasoned merch designer, there are still cases where the products do not turn out well. Chances of failure is definitely inevitable but can be improved with experience. Types of unintended results can be inaccurate colour, uneven finishing and blemishes.
How does Aiden complement Jean?
“Aiden is the best boyfriend and business partner I will ever have”, exclaimed Jean.
As Aiden is a web programmer, he takes the management of the website full on so that Jean can concentrate on other aspects of the business such as designing and responding to her fans.
He is also a pillar of support for Jean. Not only is he busy with packing the merch, he is also standing together with Jean on the frontline to ensure a smooth and enjoyable boothing experience.
Jean can spend all her time designing new creations in peace!
By the way, Aiden is an avid gamer! In case you wonder how Jean came up with the RPG style design for her mochis, it actually came from Aiden!
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Do they have time to go on dates?
Repeatedly, after work and over every weekend, the couple has been running Mochi Buddies. If they’re not boothing at the markets, they’ll be designing at home, or taking product photos.
This is their unique way of dating =D
When was their toughest time?
The toughest time was when Jean was switching jobs and running Mochi Buddies at the same time. She had to adapt to her new workplace and that really worn her out.
What kept them going on?
Admittedly, managing a day job and side business is physically and mentally draining but their passion keeps the fire burning. They found a solution to rest by taking naps whenever possible.
What do you think of copyrighted designs?
Jean prefers working on her original designs because she wants to develop her own characters and not others. Unless it’s solely for fun and just for sharing on Instagram.
Her biggest concern is to have her design stolen and it has happened before. Stealing a designer’s artwork is as good as stealing his many days and weeks of hard work on researching, drafting, illustrating and polishing the idea. It is every creator’s concern. Jean took action by educating her followers not to buy from non-original producers.
Any words of encouragement for new artists?
Be brave and start creating, joining creative markets to meet and talk to more people and take in feedbacks to improve!
We hope that this interview with Mochi Buddies inspires some of you to start making and designing things of your own! If you have a passion for it, kickstart it!
If you like what Jean and Aiden are doing, do follow them on their IG @mochibuddies!
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