Product Design and Production

All of the character designs are original to The Republic of Cute, and I created every piece by hand. I started sculpting in 2010, but by 2014 I had taught myself the art of mold making and resin casting which allowed me to create "signature" characters whose personalities I could further develop in a comic series and merchandise them on a larger scale. The photos below are examples of how I solved specific "problems" in my effort to constantly innovate and improve my designs for the ROC customers.

My earliest character sculptures shared a cohesive look and style, though I created them in a rainbow of colors, with several types of facial expressions, and accessories to appeal to a variety of customer tastes and preferences.
I created this line of "grumpy narwhal" sculptures from hand-cast resin, a technique that produces perfectly-consistent looking characters and better-quality pieces for my customers. The downside? Resin casting requires a substantial investment for each design, which naturally limits the VARIETY of sculptures I can offer. To address this limitation and continue to offer my customers as many options as possible, I created these resin narwhals with a broad, smooth surface on their backs. This section was my "canvas" to apply unique paint effects to individual narwhals, enabling me to create many different looks using just one sculpture.
 I normally sold these donut wall hangings as original art pieces (listed in the image above). However, I also realized that many people loved this concept, but they preferred to buy artwork that would coordinate with the rest of their home decor. I organized my listings so customers could specify the colors and decorations on each donut to get exactly what they want.
Starting in late October and going through Christmas, ROC customers had to option to order my sculptures as as ornaments. I added the ornament hardware "to order," at the customer's request. In doing this, I was able to conserve my stock of figurines that I would continue to sell year-round. As festive as they were, I didn't want any surplus ornaments "hanging around" my studio come springtime!
I knew that the fork component on this "Cakezilla" was inherently fragile, and unfortunately, careful packaging wasn't enough to protect it against rough shipping conditions, To solve the problem, I embedded opposite magnets inside the fork and hand. This allowed me to remove the fork entirely and make packing it much more secure.
After discovering this, I started offering "swappable" accessories for most of my wedding cake toppers, which gave my customers the option of enjoying multiple looks in just one sculpture (similar to a "Mr. Potato Head" concept). For example, one "Cakezilla" came with two themes: you could change his theme from "birthday" to "wedding" simply by switching out an elegant floral topper for a birthday candle, and substitute a tiny wedding couple in his hand in place of the fork.   
This elephant wedding cake topper design was THE reason why I learned resin casting. I had been making this set for years with polymer clay. Customers loved my work and my sales continued to be strong, but I knew I could improve the product and ordering process and be even BETTER. Specifically, I wanted to be deliver a topper that was beautiful and would match the listing photo exactly (this cannot be achieved by hand sculpting alone). I needed to deliver an incredibly beautiful product with an insanely fast turn-around time (3 days average). The end result had to be stronger than clay, more secure to ship, and could be loved by my customers for years as a cherished wedding keepsake.
When I finally got the hang of resin casting (the learning process took about 6 months or so), all of these problems were solved and the quality of my work skyrocketed. I was able to take twice as many orders as before and keep my customer service level just as high. My customers loved the fast turn-around time, easy order process, and the beautiful topper they received.
I began the "Pierogi Pride" series by offering the sculptures as pins OR as magnets. I wanted my customers to get as much value as possible, so eventually I designed each piece to function as BOTH. 
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