Hello everybody! We’ve got some big updates this time around as I, Glenn, reveal the mysteries of the cokaniverse~
To those who aren’t aware yet: we’ve got a Kickstarter going! We’re already over 25% funded after just a day. Wow. Thank you all for your interest! We’re so excited to see how this turns out. We’ve received numerous requests for these colors and hope to bring them to you guys!
What is it for? An entire palette of Co-Kan exclusive colored bags! You can read full details on our Kickstarter page we finally created. We received many questions from people new to Kickstarter that we decided a page was necessary! Thank you all you curious folks out there.
Why Kickstarter? The short answer is on the Kickstarter page. If you want the long answer, then read on!
That is a (truly majestic, if I do say so myself) photo of Oat and I. Oat is our dog and office benefits manager. We don’t have a real benefits manager because we’re a team of two people: Sonya and myself. Everything you see on Co-Kan is photographed, written, designed, assembled, tested, packed, and shipped by us two. It’s a family business - we package orders in our home and bring them to the post office by a motor scooter (like a Vespa). A lot of our followers who meet us are surprised by this, which I take as a good thing.
I’d like to share our backgrounds and explain where we plan on taking Co-Kan in detail.
Sonya’s background comes from being a self-taught artist and graphic designer. She has always enjoyed expressing herself through various mediums ranging from paint, to digital art and photography. Her friends got her into itabagging in early 2017 but she had known about it long before. Once she started, she’s was enamored by how fun and amazing the community is. However, she found the biggest issue of itabagging was simply getting stuff. Her mission became to make itabagging easier for everyone, which spun into what is now Co-Kan.
My background is in Japanese apparel manufacturing and global economics. I’ve always had a fascination with how people express themselves. My guilty pleasure is having a pants collection - I have a personal collection of pants so striking that I rarely wear them. A friend calls it "The Disco Closet".
During the summer of 2017 while I was on a business trip to Japan, Sonya brought me to the rainbow itabag wall before me at a WEGO. I was completely intrigued with the colors and the countless possibilities of how the bags could be used for self expression.
I think that itabags and other “personal expression items” will continue to gain traction and popularity because fandoms (groups people who are really into a particular series) are on the rise and people are looking to individualize their personal belongings. As fandoms rise, so will conventions and independent artists.
On the topic of artists, artists' alley crackdowns on fanmerch are getting more common, and I see a lot of fighting online between official merch purists and fan merch make-doers. I see this as a symptom of a broken system that isn’t catering toward people who want it the most. Sonya and I want to fix this system.
And so what does all this have to do with our Kickstarter? Money, time, and opportunity.
Co-Kan has been in business in some shape or form since fall of 2017. But only in the last six months or so have we become fully convinced that people really want Co-Kan. We’re the only site that we know of that sells both merch and the tools to present the merch with. But that’s far from where we plan on being, and our current offerings are a mere shell of what we dream of. We have so many major projects in the conceptualization stage, but we need guidance on which ones really matter to you.
On the “Roadmap” we’ve got:
A Franchising Program - Franchising our con booths to get us into every major convention. We receive questions and requests in hope people will see us at their local con! For example, “Will you be in a convention in Florida?” That’s a long ways away from where we are in California. We would love to be in Florida but at same time, we hardly can flap our tiny wings down to Southern California, let alone Central California. We’re just a tiny business trying our best to grow. We hope to bring more people into the Co-Kan family.
Made-to-Order Custom Itabags - Thousands of possible designs made just for you. Made-to-order will take longer to receive than our stock bags, but you have endless choices! Think about picking the color, cut-out shape, and size you want - anything.
American Official Merchandise - American merch for certain franchises exist but it’s barely there. We want to work with publishers and fan artists in America to create official merch! How cool would that be?
Character Goods Exchange - Character goods have always been the most difficult thing to obtain for people here in America. It’s not the same in Japan at all. We want our customers and the fans of America to be able to trade and sell merch through our platform. We'll create an exchange that has an easy, purpose designed interface.
Cooperative - Co-Kan has always been here for the customers and fans. We really are a place created by fans for the fans. Being a cooperative allows customers to purchase memberships into Co-Kan in order to vote and participate in company direction and more. If you’re a long time fan, you may recognize those last two “Cooperative” and “Exchange” as being the basis for our company name. We're getting there!
But big ideas cost money and time. Kickstarter lets us see whether or not people actually want these big ideas. We’re testing them one at a time, starting with a small one: “Do people actually want us to stock more bag colors? Is it worth the risk (cost, space, and time)?”
With 25% pledged after the first day, we’re optimistic for a “Yes”. And even if the were to end up being a “No”, we’re happy with that too. It would simply mean we dodged a bullet, and we need better ideas.
Luckily, better ideas are one of the few things we have around here in ample supply.
Thank you for reading.
Keep on keepin' on.
Until next time,
— Glenn from the Co-Kan Flock ▲
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Thank you to everybody who stopped by our booth last weekend at SacAnime! It was a major success, and we plan on attending again in winter as well as expand into other conventions. We tried for an open floorplan and it really worked. We got to meet and chat with a lot of you. Many people had fun sitting at our bench to open blindboxes and decorate their itabags. It was a very good first con and it was worth the preparation.
We've spent the last week cleaning up, recounting stock, and reorganizing the warehouse. Sorry we didn't update you sooner!
It’s done! I can sleep! We can sleep.
Oh wait, I gotta write an email to inform the flock.
Thank you to everyone to waited patiently while we screamed angrily at our computers and downed cup noodles like tap water. It's been a hell of a weekend hackathon, but we're open! I’ll go over some of the big changes to our site and service, along with some of the minor tweaks we did just to confuse you.