When we get word, either from Etsy or from our website, that one of our plushie penguins has been adopted, the first thing we do is we find the penguin. Our stuffed penguins are free range, so it can be a little difficult to locate the penguin in question. They’re very social and very curious. However, recently, they’ve been in the rookery that has formed on the back of our couch and arm chair. Peppy was hanging out with Franklin and their big sibling (who is still waiting to find a name). She was so excited to hear that she was going to Alaska, but she thought she might need a sweater.Continue reading Peppy Penguin Finds a Home
The world is a scary place, even now that I’m an adult. As a child, I had my mom to insulate me from the vagaries of bureaucratic nonsense and teachers who hated children. I had Saturday morning cartoons and professional wrestling to insulate me from the horrors of the news cycle. Better, there was no Internet, so I didn’t have to be bombarded with all of man’s inhumanity to men every second of the day. I had teachers who explored the beauty of literature, which protected me from succumbing to the numerous scams and conspiracy theories that are evermore present. Still, there was one time when the world was at its scariest. Night would fall, and I would be in my bed in the dark. Even there, I had my protectors: an elite fighting force of stuffed animals watched over and protected me while I slept.Continue reading Stuffed Animals Protected Me when I Slept
Life is too serious. Our penguins help to lighten things up and provide laughter and joy to prevent the darkness from closing in. As a soft and squishy companion, our stuffed penguin plush toys provide a pleasing and calming tactile experience.
Talk out Your Problems
When you’re faced with a problem and you have no one else to go to, a stuffed penguin can listen to what you need to say. The mere act of verbalizing a problem is often enough to see it in the light that it deserves.
When you talk out a problem, even to a stuffed penguin, you are giving yourself the opportunity to state the problem I a way that you can understand it. Too often, people let a problem roam the mind where the imagination grabs it and allows it to grow out of control.
Giving voice to your fears allows you to get a handle on them. When you can label the problem, you can begin to understand it. Our penguins act as your confidante giving you a way to talk to someone without receiving judgement from that person. The essential part of this act gives you emotional and psychological protection, you may not otherwise experience. Our penguins always understand you.
Express Your Emotions
Our penguins reflect your inner emotions. Each face is unique and created so that your personality shines through them. Because of their innate cuteness, they help to make the emotions softer, so that you can deal with them better. Introverts can use our penguins as the starting point for their social media interactions or as a way to express themselves to friends and family when it would be too painful or difficult otherwise.
Boost Your Creativity
Our stuffed penguin plush toys bring out the child in you. They allow you to practice using your imagination and telling stories. When you exercise your abilities to be childlike, you are practicing for creativity. Every interaction with a stuffed penguin will help you grow your creativity. Take photos with it, tell its story, and find its personality. You will find joy, friendship, travel and penguins in your imagination.
Who is our competition? What problems are they solving? What benefits are they offering?
I feel like these questions are really putting us in the position of Scrooge as he struggled against the Ghost of Christmas while trying to bonnet it. If it could be called a struggle when one side puts all his effort and might into overcoming the other, who is utterly unaffected by such exertions. Put me in the 100-yard dash with Usain Bolt, and I still don’t think he would call me competition.
Steiff Teddy Bears and Other Animals
So, is our competition Steiff?
Founded in 1880, Steiff is the world’s premier manufacturer of high-end toys and collectibles. Indeed, Steiff is the only “luxury” toy brand in the marketplace today. Internationally renowned for its exceptional quality, Steiff still utilizes traditional materials and proven manufacturing techniques to create its unique and highly prized products.Steiff USA website.
Are they the only luxury toy brand in the marketplace as they claim? They use traditional materials and exceptional quality. What are the problems they are solving and benefits they are offering? They are soft, attractively priced, and from the original teddy bear company. Steiff is basically selling entrance into their exclusivity club and the ability of stuffed animals to return adults to the happier days of childhood. (A $1,295 Winnie the Pooh is labeled as for adults only.) They reach the children with animals around $20. Steiff sells nostalgia, collectability, and investment. Your children deserve the best; Steiff proclaims itself the best and has a history and collector base to back that claim. Steiff’s powerful commercial shows a teddy bear protecting a child from the dark.
Gotta Get a Gund
Founded in 1898, Gund had commercials in the 1980s. They were selling love and playfulness. Nowadays, they’re selling comfort, play, magic, heritage, quality, surprise, imagination, and love. Gund’s website sells bravery and love. Their products are huggable, and the company has been around for more than 100 years (like Steiff). Gund has stuffed animals under $10 and focuses more on their animals’ child friendliness vs. Steiff’s collectability, though both talk about how long their toys will last and are selling their heirloom status.
Ty, Inc. and Beanie Babies
Ty is the #1 plush manufacturer in the world (according to their job listings). Their Beanie Babies were so popular that Teenie Beanie Babies were featured in McDonald’s Happy Meals. People collected them throughout the 1990s, with some having thousands in their collection. Ty has capitalized on the lower income markets and built market share through their products appeal to people who don’t have a lot of money to spend on Steiff or even Gund. With a $2 Happy Meal, you get a Beanie Baby! That’s a pretty price point for anyone who’s hungry or has children; it’s also a way to get loyal customers for life. They are offering play and love as part of their Beanie Baby package! They push the collectibles a bit further by offering surprise toys in a series. The toys are hidden in a box, so you don’t know which one you’re going to get.
The common theme for these companies is love. After all, how can you not love a stuffed animal. They make great friends, they are fun to play with, and they provide security to younger people. Being huggable is an important part of being a plushie.
Our penguins are soft, cuddly, and fun. Their wings move, and they’re handmade, so every one of them is unique. Their expressions change based on how your emotions and how you perceive what they are doing. Even just standing on a shelf, our penguins speak volumes and tell a story that your heart needs to hear. You adopt our penguins; you don’t buy them.
So, our we competitors to these larger companies? We offer something none of them can compete with. Our stuffed animals are handmade with love. My wife makes them. There’s no large factory involved in our basic penguins. If you order one with clothes, those are handmade as well. Only some of the accessories, like buttons, may be purchased. Each animal is different because the eyes are hand-embroidered. Each set of eyes is designed and sewn differently. And the eyes are the window to the soul.
My first friend was my dog Reggie. He was a beautiful, loyal German Shepherd who would listen to me, play with me and was always there for me. I lost Reggie when we had to move to the projects in California. They don’t allow poor people to have pets, and Reggie would’ve been too big for our apartment.
In the third grade, I had a girl-friend. Everyone joked that we were destined to get married. She had long brown hair and was, ew, a girl. Still, we were friends who spent recesses and lunch together.
In fifth and sixth grades, I reached the height of my childhood popularity. I knew a lot of people with whom I was friends. Many of them showed up for my birthday party at Marine World Africa, USA – a story I wrote up (with an account of Reggie) in “My Life in the Projects.”
In sixth grade, I had an actual girlfriend. Girls weren’t so “ew” by that time. I also had a couple of friends that I regularly played Dungeons and Dragons with. They were upset when we had to move to Oregon to get away from the violence in the projects.
A father and son lived caddy-corner from us in the projects. They were older than me, but we were still friends, even after we moved. I played chess and watched anime with the father. The son and I kept in touch until after I graduated from high school. We played a role-playing game that he made up to entertain me. I lost touch with them when I went to college.
Even before all of my human friends and about the same time as Reggie, I had a group of friends and protectors who kept me safe in the dark of nights and provided solace in the darkest of times. My stiffed animals were fun to be around, and they could always go with me, no matter where we moved. They were steadfast, loyal, and some told amazing jokes.
I haven’t kept in touch with my childhood friends. We’ve grown apart – separated by time, distance, and experiences, even in this electronically and virtually connected world – and that’s on me. I have, however, kept my stuffed animal friends, tucked away in a box somewhere, waiting for me to bring them back into my life, to enjoy the sunshine and the laughter of an old man they still see as the child that once was. Until I am able to, until I have the space to house them, I’ll keep collecting plushie friends from the amazing penguins my wife hand makes to the multiple examples of Olaf the Snowman. And when I am finally able to bring them all together, we’ll have an epic party to celebrate our friendship.
At Lilac City Comicon 2019, I had someone come to my table. He paid the adoption price for a costumed penguin and asked me to find a good home for one of our penguins. It was hard to do so because all of the children I saw after that had brothers and sisters. If I gave one child a penguin, I would need to give all the children a penguin. Since I only had one pay-it-forward penguin, I had to use my patience and wait for the right moment.
A girl in pink came to our table with her friend and loved our penguins. She asked about the adoption prices, touched the penguins and sighed. She left without a penguin. I kept watching the children go by. Some just ran by the table without stopping. Others glanced at the table but kept moving. Parents wrangled their kids away from looking at the penguins.
If we would have had a pay-it-forward penguin on the first day of Lilac City Comicon, I know exactly who would have gotten it. A little girl loved our penguins so much, she cried when her dad said she couldn’t have one. I felt bad for the father. He eventually bought Lucky at a discount, but she didn’t want a tiny penguin. She wanted a regular-sized penguin she could love. I offered to take Lucky back, but the dad declined. We can’t go back and change the past.
The girl in pink came back to our table and asked which of the penguins were $25. I pointed at our two penguins without costumes, and she pulled out her money. Then I said that we had a pay-it-forward penguin, so she could choose any penguin she wanted. Her eyes lit up, she started laughing, and she chose Flopsy Penguin dressed in her pink bunny outfit.
Both Jenya and I would love to give every child we see one of our penguins. (Some adults need them, too.) It’s just not financially feasible.
Just recently, one of the people who has already adopted a penguin from us asked if it were possible to pay a penguin forward. Brilliant! If you want to pay the adoption process of a penguin and find someone who will love it, we will do so. Our next scheduled event is at Salem Holiday Market in Oregon; we’d love to be able to give away some penguins there! All you have to do is go to our pay-it-forward page and pay the adoption fee. You don’t even have to worry about shipping and handling!
Checkers and his Bright Light Nails family were the first to jump in and pay the adoption fees for one of our Pay-It-Forward Penguins. Checkers has been having so much fun in New Zealand that he and his family decided to help someone else experience the joy of having a stuffed penguin friend this holiday season.
Jenya and I were so excited when we saw that the first official Pay-It-Forward Penguin was already on its way within the first hour of posting the project on our website: www.penguinate.com. Join Checkers and Bright Light Nails this holiday season and pay a penguin forward for a child at the Salem Holiday Market in Oregon. We will also be donating a dollar to the Global Penguin Society for this penguin adoption.
Checkers is the salon penguin for Bright Light Nails. He loves chocolate and traveling through New Zealand when he isn’t helping with the great promotions and nail work being done in the salon. There’s been talk that he will get his own Instagram account, but for now, you can find him at the Facebook and IG accounts for Bright Light Nails. Thanks again to Checkers and his family!
(The first Pay-It-Forward penguin was adopted to a girl at Lilac City Comicon 2019. The adoption fees were paid anonymously. That interaction was one of the factors in creating an official program.)
For every penguin that gets adopted, we will donate $1 to the Global Penguin Society!