Janus Ong, Ami Lu and Cindy Wu have been friends since college.
They can be trained in different fields – especially games, accounting, and social services – but one thing is certain: they share a common love for food.
After graduating, Ami and Janus embarked on entrepreneurship. In particular, Janus has founded companies in the technology, catering and gaming industries.
While they each have their own unique thing, the three decided to band together to create a larger-than-life version of the food, which prompted them to launch Nom Nom Plush.
“What was a passionate project turned into a business opportunity,” Janus said.
Sold 1,000 food soft toys in two weeks
It all started when the team had a random conversation about noticing common international food pillows being produced. It was then that they decided to produce cushions that symbolize their culture.
Founded in 2016, Nom Nom Plush started as a passionate project when the team wanted to turn nostalgic local food into fun food cushions. The main objective of Nom Nom Plush is to touch hearts with the memory that each food evokes.
In celebration of the Chinese New Year in 2017, the team launched their first product known as Pineapple Tart Plush. That year the nation celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence where the nostalgic spirit was high and most people rave about the locally themed items.
“All we wanted was to have fun back then and we were surprised when we sold the 1,000 units in the first two weeks after launch,” Cindy recalled.
Over the years, the trio experimented with a variety of products, including stationery and lifestyle items. However, the trio learned that they had strayed from their original vision of creating food pillows and chose to go back to basics.
“Along the way, we learned the importance of focus and clarity in vision,” Cindy explained.
Develop its plush toy business to accommodate pets
Spurred on by the success of Nom Nom Plush, the trio went on to launch a sister brand called Furball Collective.
It was founded in 2020 when the team realized that their customers were using their pillows and key chains as toys for their pets.
Over time, the team received requests to produce cushions that could be turned into chew toys for their pets.
“We decided to experiment with this new product and have gained so much traction and love from the pet community since our inception,” shared Cindy.
The brand’s vision was to create nose toys for pets because there is so much uncharted territory in the realm of pet toys.
They started out by creating chew toys from their existing Nom Nom Plush designs, but have since ventured beyond them as part of their creative endeavors.
“While our vision for this brand has not changed, what has evolved is our increased confidence,” said Cindy.
She also expressed that the brand’s story promises nostalgia with a touch of playfulness. Hence their slogan, “Zero Calories, 100% Goodness”.
In January 2021, the team launched their Curry Fish Head six-piece pet bed set. The set includes a bed with work toys attached to the nose, and it became one of their bestsellers during the Christmas season in 2021.
That same year, in December, the team launched their Round-the-World collection which includes international food pillows. They have three models at the moment – Bolo Bun, Egg Tart and Dumpling.
After smoothly launching another product in December 2021, the hotpot nose job toy will be this year’s Chinese New Year blockbuster.
“The reception has been great so far and we have since received international inquiries from pet owners in Canada, the United States and Indonesia.”
The two brands – Nom Nom Plush and Furball Collective – will cross the 100,000 units sold mark in 2022.
How they created the local cuisine themed soft toys
The Nom Nom Plush and Furball Collective plush toys are all team-designed and generally conceptualized after a few iterations.
As part of their product quality control process, the team would study the market for interesting and widely recognizable food concepts in society.
They must ensure a good balance between realism, cuteness and recognizable in their plush toys.
Janus is the design planner – he will come up with a design concept once the Food Concepts Market research is complete.
The design planning process includes purchasing different versions of a particular food that they will prototype, creating videos of those foods, providing manufacturers with 3D illustrations, creating samples, and communicating. with potential users for feedback and feedback.
To put it in perspective, pineapple pies are made differently by different bakers, love letters come in a variety of shapes, and ice cream has multiple flavors.
With these different elements, the team makes a point of deciding which models would be both comfortable and aesthetic for its customers.
“The whole process, from conceptualization to market launch, can take between six and eight months, as we hold high standards to ensure fun without compromising quality and usability,” Janus said.
Before sending the products for mass production, a final prototype would be created in order to do a final evaluation with the team and potential users.
“It’s important to us that the design is aesthetic, but of good quality,” said Cindy.
However, having to constantly innovate and respond to market demands is not easy. Things get complicated when they come across brands that have plagiarized the design of their products.
“It’s disheartening, but it doesn’t make us waver and what cannot be replicated is the brand story that we have carved out over the years,” Janus said.
In addition, Nom Nom Plush faces the challenge of retail partners with business practices that have turned red, leading to several issues such as the loss of inventory without compensation and the brand’s non-payment for products sold.
They have sold over 10,000 soft toys
As mentioned earlier, Nom Nom Plush was launched with great fanfare – 1,000 plush toys were sold in the first two weeks of launch, which boosted morale.
To date, the brand has sold over 10,000 soft toys, excluding key chains and pet products.
Above all, she considers her greatest achievement to be the pioneer in the local food-inspired plush market. “We’re the first brand to do this in Singapore and it’s been pretty amazing so far,” Janus said.
Meanwhile, Furball Collective has partnered with notable companies such as the Intercontinental Hotel on their Paw-cation package in 2020 and 2021, in which they provided toys in the hotel’s welcome basket for guests. .
Additionally, the brand has nurtured a community of pet owners and is grateful to their fans and customers.
“While they say we inspired them to appreciate heritage, we want to tell them that they inspired us to create more creative toys for their beloved pets,” Cindy said.
Going forward, the team intend to focus on Furball Collective as they look to release a series of fun plush toys. It also hopes to expand its two brands internationally in 2022 to countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia and the United States.
Buy Nom Nom Plush and Furball Collective on VP Label now and get $ 20 off (minimum spend $ 80) when you checkout with Pace using code PACEVP20:
Featured Image Credit: Plush Name Name
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