Few would know that there's a hoard of quirky, weird and charming monsters living in the heart of downtown Toronto.
Monster Factory has exploded since their start in 2003 when they created six original plush characters. Today, the toy company has over 100, each complete with their own story and all-too-real personalities. Take Mrs. Morley, for example, an elderly character who "delights in knitting sweaters for her boys," or blank-faced Dave, who wears tube socks and "takes things a little too seriously."
Trend Hunter's Shelby Walsh recently spoke with co-founder Bliss Man to learn more about the off-beat toy factory. Her answers have been edited.
What’s your role within Monster Factory?
How many employees work there?
Monster Factory is located in the Queen St. West neighbourhood at 471 Richmond St. West, unit 102. This location serves as our creative studio. I like to think of ourselves as one of Toronto’s best kept secrets, because people are always surprised to find a toy company right in the heart of the city. We have a small staff of three employees, but there are six of us in total, including myself and my other two partners.
Where do you sell your products?
We sell online at www.monsterfactory.net, at our studio directly, and in over 100 specialty retailers across Canada and the U.S.
What makes your toy company stand out from others?
We design and manufacture plush toys, but what some people don’t realize is that we dedicate a lot of our time to creating engaging characters too. We’ve written back stories and developed an entire world that we are looking forward to sharing with our fans in two ways: a mobile game for IOS and Android that we’re developing with help from the Canadian Media Fund that will be launching in the fall of 2014; and an animated television show that we’re developing with our partners, 9 Story Entertainment.
What’s Monster Factory’s design philosophy?
Our design philosophy is to marry good design with good character. We always design the toy first and then, based on its appearance, we create a character that we think matches him or her. We love creating new characters and though we have a distinct style to our monsters, we try to innovate new ways of constructing our toys so that our designs are always evolving.
What’s your biggest challenge as a small business?
Tell me something about your company that most people don’t know.
Any advice for entrepreneurs in this business?
For those in creative fields, it’s always important to remember that you are running a business and that it needs to make money in order to continue. This may be obvious, but we were young when we started and spent a lot of time focusing on the creative aspects – which isn’t bad, you just have to look at the business side too. Also, try not to do everything yourself. Find great people and companies to work with who do things you don’t and build a well rounded team.