We've added thousands and thousands of new circlers on Google+ in the last couple days alone and many seem unfamiliar with our story ( I've read questions such as "you post such cute stuffed animals", for example. )
This post may be old news to the 104 nice people in the Ugly Circle, but I felt I should make a sort of intro for those who are brand new.
Who are you?
Who am I?
I met my wife, Sun-Min, at the Parsons School of Design in New York back in 1996 and our first conversation ever was about two things…that we both grew up wanting to do the same thing…tell stories through toys but never work for a toy company…to which our instructor said "good luck with that one" and a deep discussion about what "ugly" meant… to us, ugly means unique, different, special…ugly means the twists and the turns which make you who you are, on the inside and outside, and that which makes you YOU should be shouted from the rooftops, never hidden or altered.
The entire world benefits, rather, NEEDS your gifts to be brought out.
Being yourself saves the world.
So beauty…not the beauty in nature, rather the conformity and sets of rules and standards which change with the times… destroys us all.
Ugly is the new beauty.
Well after this first conversation, I knew this was the person I had to live the rest of my life with, but after graduation she had to move back to Korea due to her student visa expiring. By now it was just a couple days after 911, which made her parents extra anxious for her to come home.
We tried everything, and I even spent my last penny asking a fancy lawyer if she could perhaps qualify for an 01 Visa , which is the "Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement" Visa, as she was an incredible artistic talent in my eyes…but they actually had a chuckle at that idea.
So the person I could not live without moved away, and reality set in…the only way I was ever going to see the person I love the most ever again was to become the person I've always rambled about wanting to be and do those things which I had been dreaming of since I was 5…the subject of our first discussion.
I sent her a letter with my little hard working character from our "uglyverse", WAGE, at the bottom, explaining that we would find a way to do what we've been dreaming to do this whole time, and that we would figure it all out so we can be together again…and that drawing of Wage was working hard at somehow making that happen.
She sewed that little Wage guy into a plush doll for me as a surprise gift
( see pic in this post ), and sent it to me from Korea.
It was her first attempt at sewing.
The Wage doll really grabbed me…he was so awkward looking, but had a very inviting, soft, lovely tactile feel to him…but he had the bug eyes.
In my excitement, I showed that doll to my pal Eric Nakamura at the Giant Robot store in Los Angeles and his reply was "cool man, I'll take 20."
I ran back to the phone at home to thank Sun-Min for making such an incredible gift…and could she please make 20 more…on the phone she said "I want to make an Uglydoll" and I replied "I think you just did." So I added "Uglydoll" to each Wage tag, made on my old copy printer.
Weeks later, I dropped off those first 20 Uglydoll plush dolls at Giant Robot, and they sold out in one day…so we dropped off 40 next time and those sold out in 2 days. This kept going until we added a couple more shops and 1500 hand made dolls later, had enough $$$ to set up our own tiny booth at the NYC Toy Fair, way in the back where Mattel uses the bathroom…and we were bombarded by orders from shop owners based all around the world.
Sun-Min said "my fingers have turned blue, so we either stop or go into real production"…so we did, and produced our own plush Uglydoll characters over the next ten years.
Sun-Min and I married soon after we went into production ( and she got that 01 Visa! ) and we now license the Uglydoll brand for all sorts of products and have written many Uglydoll books, and are currently working on the Uglydoll movie with Universal.
I really appreciate your having circled me here on Google+.
I think this is a fantastic place to meet new people and share great stories and fun thoughts. I use it as my go to place for my morning news, and haven't really tuned on the cable news stations at all since.
Please check back and please do say hi!
If you are a creative person and have been wanting to do what we've done or something similar, or say you are a carpenter and dream of building the better hammer…please do ask questions here and I will do my best to reply.
I will post little stories of how we did what we did here as often as I can, and I'll do my best to reply to some of our fan mail and emails sent to our office, here on G+ as well.
I am not here to sell...so please do not misinterpret my posting of products. I will post what I do all day ( at least the projects I can reveal ) and I am here to help those who wish to do something similar.
Oh and that 1st Wage doll is still here with me...actually for now he is in a vault deep under ground in Beverly Hills while we live our days mostly in Korea but fly back and forth almost weekly...and we have recently released an exact replia of him for our fans, available at that very first shop where Uglydoll was born, Giant Robot.