My Two Year Hooby Groovy Journey!

Posted on September 11, 2012 by Ee-Leng Chang | 0 Comments

On September 9th 2010, I made my first ever Hooby Groovy sale. And thus Hooby Groovy was born. Two years on, so many things have happened and it's been a wonderful journey!

How it started:

When I left my last job as Project Coordinator at Bluetongue Entertainment, I didn't have an inkling of what I wanted to do with myself. At the time, I really needed some time off and away. I always figured that after a while, I would try to find another job, most likely in the same field in the same industry. But for that moment, I was content with just doing nothing. But as I think I've always secretly known, doing nothing is never that much fun when there's really nothing to do. So luckily after a couple of months, a good friend swooped in and asked if I wanted to accompany her in a short course to learn how to use a sewing machine. It was a no-brainer because I had been trying to make myself an iPad case but having no machine nor knowledge of how to use one, I resorted to hand sewing it. A billion years later, I had myself my first Mario case:


After that, I thought that a) making stuff is pretty fun and b) hand-sewing sucks. So next stop, sewing machine class!

With my new-found skills, I started out in a frenzy of making stuff. After the apartment started filling up with iPad cases, I figured I should try to sell them because I really enjoyed making them but was never going to need so many cases. 

So I set up shop on Etsy, decided on a company name and listed my first item, an iPad case design that I I've since dropped from my collection. A couple of days later, I received an order for it!! I still remember that night very well and the hopping and jumping around that ensued. 

That very first iPad case design was based on a pattern for an iPhone case that I had purchased. It was a really good, much needed learning step in construction for me. But I wasn't satisfied with making products based on someone else's patterns. My main goal was to learn how to design and create my own products.  

The Super Mario Collection

After much experimentation and oodles of fabric getting chucked out by my failed attempts, I created my Mario Collection. I was pretty proud of my Mario Collection and with much trepidation of a newbie parent sending her children out into the world, I tentatively contacted Technabob about my collection hoping that it might draw a couple of customers. They did pick up the story and from them, Gizmodo featured my collection too and everything just sort of snowballed from there! It was a really awesomely exciting time!

And hugely scary too because I had just only figured out the pattern for the cases, I didn't have much practice making them and definitely didn't have any form of production process going on. But as orders started pouring in, it was a matter of just getting it done somehow! I had help from a few very awesome friends who rallied around and there were a fair few nights of assembly line style work going on just so I could catch up. And there was no other choice than to very, very quickly figure out my processes and tweak them to be as efficient as possible. It was a real learning on the job time! 


Changes and un-Changes

Fast-forward 2 years (I really can't believe its been 2 years!) and how much has happened!

I now have 3 Collections: The Mario Collection, The Animals of Hooby Groovy Land Collection and the Ninja Collection (Stay tuned, a new collection is just on the brink of being launched!)

My best selling design are the Pandas and I've created 238 Pandas in total, 126 Panda iPad Cases and 112 Panda iPhone Cases. All up, I've handcrafted nearly 700 products.

I've fulfilled 69 custom requests, majority are of my own designs custom made to fit different devices but a fair few have been completely new designs

I've posted orders to 36 countries around the world.

I've gone from slowly turning our apartment into a chaotic factory: 

Ms Hooby Groovy and Her Helpers

to having my own dedicated Hooby Groovy Workshop, which was always one of my big major dreams when starting Hooby Groovy: 

Hooby Groovy's new workspace!

 

I started with just one Etsy shop as my only source of distribution, but now I have products distributed via Young Republic, Shana Logic and Case On


Things that have stayed the same:

I still hand write a little note that goes with each order.

I still hand make all my products.

I'm still learning new things.

I believe my design aesthetics have stayed the same too. 


The Journey

It hasn't been all sunshine and rainbows and unicorns throughout. There's been highs and lows. On one end of the spectrum, I've gone from sleepless nights stressing over how to fulfill so many orders, to the other end of the spectrum of sleepless nights over how to fulfill my bill payments. I've had days of working such long hours that I've literally just started crying but since I know I have so much work to do, I just end up a crazy person sobbing out loud at my sewing machine because I can't afford to take the time out to have a good relaxing cry. Luckily, I've had much practice in working insane crunch hours from my previous job.

I've probably wasted way too much shower water while trying to solve problems (my best, most productive thinking space), some have been design challenges such as the Pinkie Pie Kindle Case, some are construction challenges like the folio-style Panda iPad Case, most have been business and marketing challenges. I've had experiences of my designs getting plagiarised but fortunately I was able to get it resolved quickly and quietly without having to draw it out into a long stressful battle. 

Along the way, I've had the support of so many people near and far. My bestest support is my husband who has been super supportive and proud of me! From helping me with ironing, cutting and pinning when I really needed extra help to helping me make decisions every step of the way. And every chance he gets he'll bring up Hooby Groovy and proudly tell everyone around us about it. :) 

My family and friends have been super supportive too, from helping out with physical labour to sharing out word of Hooby Groovy and kudos to my parents who so far have never nagged me to go get a 'proper job' ;)! And I wouldn't be able to have my awesome workshop if not for my mother-in-law letting me take over her backyard granny flat!

And then there's all the new people that I've met through Hooby Groovy. I've got my tiny network of friendly and helpful suppliers and distributors, it's been great working and communicating with them! And my customers! Literally without my customers, Hooby Groovy would be just a puff of nothing. Over the years, I've had a chance to communicate and work with so many awesome customers to get them products that they want. I have quite a few customers that have returned to order from me over and over to get more cases for themselves or as gifts for loved ones. It's such an honour that they've enjoyed my products enough to want to get more and to share them with their friends and family! 

 

So Where To Now?

When I started Hooby Groovy, I gave myself 2 years to try it out, to see if it had potential to be an actual business. The plan was that if after 2 years it was going nowhere and I had run out of steam and no longer wanted to do it, I would move on and get a 'real job'. But no matter what, I would keep it up for at least 2 years to really give it a fair chance. 

Well its 2 years now and I can happily say I've definitely not run out of steam and I really do think I could do this forever! I feel very much like a parent and Hooby Groovy is my baby (not that I know what being a parent feels like...). I feel extremely invested and motivated to making it grow up to be the best that it can be. 

I think the time has come for me to really think about what I want Hooby Groovy to be and to be more focused. While I love the way everything is going right now, in order to realistically keep Hooby Groovy running forever, I definitely need it to grow. 

So what can you expect for the future? Well, in the very near future, you'll definitely see Hooby Groovy products for new Apple gadgets (when they are announced).  And there's going to be a new Collection launching very soon too just in time for Halloween...oooh wonder what the theme will be... ;). 

Past those 2 very definite announcements, you're going to see more new designs and new products. I intend to grow Hooby Groovy into a brand known for its fun, cute and distinctive designs. The future is very exciting! A little daunting but infinitely exciting! I'm ready to put in the hard slog needed, keep on learning and continue my Hooby Groovy journey! And I hope that you'll follow me along for the ride! :)

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