Jojo sells authentic giant Japanese plush toys
LoveJojo founder Jojo is a successful British Born Chinese entrepreneur who began her company during university. Speaking to Resonate, Jojo discusses the birth of her businesses and overcoming the challenges along the way.
Jojo’s brand, LoveJojo, sells a range of authentic Japanese plus toys, with a focus on alpacas. The young entrepreneur uses social media to market her products and now has a loyal following on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Her Facebook Page has over 27,500 likes.
The British Chinese entrepreneur developed a taste for Japanese culture at the age of 11 when she attended her cousin’s wedding in Japan. She buys the authentic products from a company based in Japan and sells them online on her website, www.LoveJojo.com.
The birth of the brand
“I was at university when started this company in my final year. I was studying Graphic Design in Portsmouth. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would and I wanted to do my own thing. I’ve always had an interest in buying and selling on the internet.”
“One day I was on YouTube and I saw this girl who had an alpaca plush toy. The moment I saw it, I fell in love at first sight. I wanted to have one for my own. I thought I’d get 10 of them wholesale so I could keep one for myself and sell the rest of them. I bought them from a company in Japan.”
“I never intended for it to be a big business but it became really popular. The first 10 sold instantly so I bought 50 more and the same thing happened, then 250. I sold them on eBay at first but then I wanted to sell them through my own website, lovejojo.com.”
“The meaning behind the website name is ‘love from me’ in the form of the plushies and toys. Every package I send out comes with my love. The biggest problem with selling online was that there were a lot of counterfeits of the products.”
“My branding is all about love. The logo took a couple of years to be finalised. I wanted it to say so much but not so much at the same time. I wanted to convey the excitement and joy of seeing the thing that you love. I wanted it to show that feeling so others could relate to it too.”
Post-graduation and focusing on the company
“It was only after I graduated when I began to take it more seriously. I believed that my life should follow a certain set of rules – go to uni, get a job, buy a house etc’, but my heart was always here with LoveJojo. No matter what I did, it was always going to pull me back.”
Chinese culture and entrepreneurship
“Coming from a Chinese background, my biggest challenge would be my parents. They wanted me to get a job in an office and take my life seriously. I tried looking for a job and doing what they wanted me to do but I think ultimately it’s about your own happiness and where you want to take your life.”
“When you start a business you’re not going to see profits straight away, so I kept going at it to prove to my parents that I could make a sustainable business out of it. When they saw the progress I was making, they started to support me. The process took me 1-2 years. It wasn’t easy. In the end, it was worth it and I now have the full support of my parents.”
The first big step
“The very first time I did MCM Comic Con 2012 was my first big step. I wasn’t focusing on making money. It was something I’d never done before so I wanted to have a good time no matter what. That was my main focus. I’d had just finished university and I didn’t have a lot of money, so the event was a big investment. It paid off in the end.”
“I’ve been doing events all around the country since. I’ve done Hyper Japan, Birmingham Comic Con, London Comic Con, London Anime and Gaming Con and a Manchester one.
“Meeting people face to face gives me a lot of joy because the happiness I felt when I saw these toys and finally had one for myself – that’s the feeling I want to give to everyone. Seeing their faces light up really makes me happy. The events give me exposure for my website and I give the customers leaflets to let them know they can also shop online.”
Growth since 2012
“Since 2012 the product range has grown a lot. I believed that I should follow my heart with everything I do. When I pick the products, I look through the catalogu – anything that I’m drawn to, that’s the kind of product I choose. I have more than 300 different products now. I also launched a kawaii subscription box service earlier this year as well as a kawaii surprise bag – all available on my website.”
“I want to be able to spread more love around the world. I’d like to run my event once a year. I did a kawaii event in May 2016. We had performances including Kelsey Ellison. I had my shop set up there with food and drink stalls.”
Top 3 tips for budding entrepreneurs
1. Really, really follow what’s in your heart – what you love.
2. LoveJojo comes from a place of love. In my business, it’s not about the money. It’s about love and acceptance of everyone in this world. At the end of the day, we are all one in the same. I want to spread that positivity around. I want to show people that you can be who you are. So be true to yourself and don’t feel that you need to change yourself to fit in.
3. Don’t give up no matter what!