Sometimes art imitates life. Other times, life imitates art. But if there’s any imitation going on at all, we suggest it be eCommerce retailers and wholesalers taking a few pages from the book of Jason Feinberg, artist turned business owner, and his company FCTRY.
FCTRY has found success in turning art into popular products for mass consumption - blurring the lines between art and product since 2006.
We spoke with Jason, FCTRY’s CEO and Creative Director about the inspiration behind the company, how it all works and how they’re using TradeGecko within their operations to pull everything together.
Back in 2006, FCTRY predecessor Jailbreak Toys was only a side project for Jason. He used the company as a way to showcase his works of art, instead of relying on galleries and their big, expensive shows. For the first few years, he was producing a line of toys, fulfilling small orders by himself and running the business on the side. Until a little someone named Obama came along.
Jason sculpted an Obama action figure (the only one on the market at the time) and the product flew off the shelves. Turns out, people were really into an action figure of this larger-than-life president in a size that fit into their pockets.
Jason began selling hundreds of thousands of these figures, even taking to the street and selling loads of them at the 2009 inauguration. (Thanks, Obama!)
With the instant success in 2008, Jason and his wife, Alyssa quit their jobs and focused on the business full-time. They also hired a few other employees. Once the Obama hype died down, they were left with this established company that people were depending on. They thought: what’s next?
They went back to the basics, returning to the initial formula that brought them so much success with the Obama action figure. Jason explains:
I take my art and make it into an affordable product that I can sell to the world. So at that time, I thought maybe we can just repeat that step. And that became the basis for what turned into FCTRY: taking pop art ideas and turning them into mass produced products.
With an artist’s temperament, rather than a businessman’s, Jason and FCTRY did hit some bumps in the beginning: “I wasn’t particularly aggressive, and I tended to be naive and overly optimistic, like an artist might, so that was hard - dealing with people who were much more matter of fact and bottom line than what I was used to.”
Clearly, this union of art and eCommerce; artist and CEO worked itself out. What started as the simple idea of an artist selling his stuff online turned into a multifaceted, multichannel eCommerce success.
The current state of the union
FCTRY now has 9 employees, and processes an average of 1800 orders a week from their three channels: Shopify, wholesale and Amazon. At the beginning, they focused entirely on wholesale, but were soon able to branch into retail eCommerce, which has become a lucrative channel of its own. FCTRY has a warehouse in New Jersey that is run by a 3PL.
Each of their products is marketed and branded separately, with its own URL, brand story and product page. They did this simply as a marketing technique because they were able to reach the customer in a clear, direct way.
“We try to keep it simple. We say hey, here’s a cool and beautiful product, so we put that face forward, knowing that it’s the easier way in.”
Crowdfunding, FCTRY style
When first deciding what pieces of Jason’s art to put into production, they did it by estimation and instinct. FCTRY then quickly realized that they could give people what they want, if they ask people what they want.
They shifted to a crowdfunding model for their next few products, and ran 3 Kickstarter campaigns in 2015. Biggest advantages? They have an entire brand, brand story, imagery, photos and developed product at the start and they end up with a fixed number of orders so they know exactly what to expect when going into production.
They’ve built their own platform through Shopify and intend to keep using this model going forward.
So where does TradeGecko come into the picture?
In 2013, FCTRY found TradeGecko after looking for a new inventory management solution through Xero. They liked what they saw.
FCTRY is working hard to integrate TradeGecko into all their processes. As a result of custom-built integrations, they're about to use TradeGecko in a unique and customized way. Seven employees in FCTRY use TradeGecko on a day to day basis.
Jason explained one of the most helpful integrations they’ve been able to build: “We’ve built a TradeGecko integration that gives us shipping estimates, by tapping into USPS, FedEx and UPS’s APIs so that when we create an order in TradeGecko, we move into our app, get all the shipping estimates, choose one and apply that to an invoice as a shipping line.”
Another cool integration they’ve worked out: FCTRY produces baby sunglasses (who doesn’t love a baby in sunglasses?!) that come with a lifetime replacement policy.
They built a custom app that allows the consumer to redeem their free pair automatically: the customer goes online and enters their information, and through TradeGecko and our interface they get a replacement pair - the whole process is completely automated, saving them time and a lot of manual work.
Aside from these integrations, FCTRY uses TradeGecko as one of the hubs to centralize operations. Since each product is its own brand, with its own URL and since orders are processed through different channels, TradeGecko helps them bring it all together.
“TradeGecko is the unifying element that lets us market to our audiences on so many different web platforms.”
In the next few years, FCTRY aims to launch new products and is looking to expand into new territories - particularly Amazon UK, Europe and Canada.
Imagination becomes reality
A tiny Trump, with even tinier hands. Mustaches on babies. Unicorns and their snot. FCTRY is a place where the ubiquitous inspirational poster saying “If you can dream it, you can do it” is quite literally the truth. In FCTRY’s world, anything is possible and we can’t wait to see what possibilities come up next.
Find all of FCTRY's amazing products on their website.