Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Monster Factory has exploded since their start in 2003 when they created six original plush characters. Today, the toy company has over 100, each complete with their own story and all-too-real personalities. Mrs. Morley is an elderly character that “delights in knitting sweaters for her boys,” and Dave sports a blank expression alongside tube socks and “takes things a little too seriously.”
Monster Factory has exploded since their start in 2003 when they created six original plush characters. Today, the toy company has over 100, each complete with their own story and all-too-real personalities. Mrs. Morley is an elderly character that “delights in knitting sweaters for her boys,” and Dave sports a blank expression alongside tube socks and “takes things a little too seriously.”

Designer Spotlight

Toronto's best kept secret: A toy company in the heart of the city Add to ...

Few would know that there’s a hoard of quirky, weird and charming monsters living in the heart of downtown Toronto.

Monster Factory has exploded since their start in 2003 when they created six original plush characters. Today, the toy company has over 100, each complete with their own story and all-too-real personalities. Take Mrs. Morley, for example, an elderly character who “delights in knitting sweaters for her boys,” or blank-faced Dave, who wears tube socks and “takes things a little too seriously.”

Trend Hunter's Shelby Walsh recently spoke with co-founder Bliss Man to learn more about the off-beat toy factory. Her answers have been edited.

Monster Factory

What’s your role within Monster Factory?

My name is Bliss Man and I’m one of three co-founders of the Monster Factory. My role at the moment is in the sales and marketing of our plush toys, though I also design and partake in numerous aspects of our creative endeavours – like a typical small business owner. 
Monster Factory

How many employees work there?

Monster Factory is located in the Queen St. West neighbourhood at 471 Richmond St. West, unit 102. This location serves as our creative studio. I like to think of ourselves as one of Toronto’s best kept secrets, because people are always surprised to find a toy company right in the heart of the city. We have a small staff of three employees, but there are six of us in total, including myself and my other two partners. 

Where do you sell your products?

We sell online at www.monsterfactory.net, at our studio directly, and in over 100 specialty retailers across Canada and the U.S.

Monster Factory

What makes your toy company stand out from others?

We design and manufacture plush toys, but what some people don’t realize is that we dedicate a lot of our time to creating engaging characters too. We’ve written back stories and developed an entire world that we are looking forward to sharing with our fans in two ways: a mobile game for IOS and Android that we’re developing with help from the Canadian Media Fund that will be launching in the fall of 2014; and an animated television show that we’re developing with our partners, 9 Story Entertainment.

Monster Factory

What’s Monster Factory’s design philosophy?

Our design philosophy is to marry good design with good character. We always design the toy first and then, based on its appearance, we create a character that we think matches him or her. We love creating new characters and though we have a distinct style to our monsters, we try to innovate new ways of constructing our toys so that our designs are always evolving. 

Monster Factory

What’s your biggest challenge as a small business?

Even though we make awesome products and have a lot of loyal and very enthusiastic fans, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easy to grow our business. Brand awareness is a huge part of success and having the facilities and the financing that create awareness are not always easy to get. It is a struggle to expand without substantial marketing budgets or an established distribution network. It has, however, forced us to be creative with how we get new fans and a lot of good content has come out of that. 

Tell me something about your company that most people don’t know.

We designed and made a mascot for lollipop company, Chupa Chups. The mascot’s name is Chupa Chuck and he was made famous in Asian countries like Korea and Hong Kong and even some European countries by starring in a series of funny commercials that you can see on their website. Chuck even has his own Twitter account
Monster Factory

Any advice for entrepreneurs in this business?

For those in creative fields, it’s always important to remember that you are running a business and that it needs to make money in order to continue. This may be obvious, but we were young when we started and spent a lot of time focusing on the creative aspects – which isn’t bad, you just have to look at the business side too. Also, try not to do everything yourself. Find great people and companies to work with who do things you don’t and build a well rounded team. 

Follow us on Twitter: @GlobeSmallBiz

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories