Every Thursday, ILQ features a different Qatari startup in our ‘Startup of the Week’ segment. Qatar has some of the most creative, unique, and impactful startups in the region, and we cover them all across a variety of industries in Doha—from fashion and beauty, to food and dining, health, education, technology, and more!
This week, we're turning dreams into reality with Plushy—a 6-month-old startup that converts drawings made by children (or even adults) into adorable plush toys!
Plushy is a word developed over the years based on the exterior material used in stuff toys. Its tagline "You Draw it, We Make it" speaks volumes to what they basically do.
Each Plushy is hand made, giving it the utmost attention of detail every step of the way. Once a child receives his or her Plushy, they'll for sure be overjoyed to see their work come to life from a piece of paper to something they can touch, feel, hug and befriend.
The business has been on since November last year. Six months prior to that, team Plushy conducted and facilitated workshops and seminars with toy experts and artists to make sure that the products that they deliver are of the highest standards and quality.
For a startup concept as promising as Plushy, quality has always been key. Right from trying out different fabrics, to different stuffings, to making sure that there is never any plastic used on these toys so that they're always safe, to the littlest things including making sure that if you put the toy in the washing machine, the colour doesn't fade or run out.
It took the whole team half a year before they were confident enough about the quality of the product that they're offering.
Speaking to one of the founders Aayush Bakshi, he shared that there's no restriction on what someone can draw. "We believe that every Plushy is not just a personalised tailor-made product but it has an emotional connection to it, for the parent as well as the child.
"We believe in unrestricted creativity. When you're handed an empty white sheet with a colouring set—you know there are endless possibilities. We don't believe in making everyone do the same art activity or paint the same picture. We want them to reach within themselves and draw their vision on their blank canvas."
Aayush's team believes in making their customers' imagination last forever. "Them receiving their own drawings in the form of a toy, which they can touch and feel, is a huge confidence and morale booster. It also spikes their right brain activity and cells, which is our creative side of the brain."
Living in the Middle East since 2004, he admits that the main reason which pushed him to come up with the idea of Plushy was derived from the 'lack of creative avenues,' as he calls it, while growing up in this part of the globe.
He added: "Now that I'm older, I'd love to do something in the creative art space where children can truly be creative without any restriction."
One major thing that keeps Aayush's uniquely-themed business pushing through is its mostly-positive response from customers, especially those coming from the parents.
"Parents love the idea and we're getting a good response from schools as well. Just the last weekend at our Pearl Workshop, we had an 8-year-old girl who drew a unicorn because she wants to be a horse rider when she grows up. She made her mother call me as she wanted to speak with me, and she said I want to come again to draw a rocket as my younger sister wants to be an astronaut."
The most important values in entrepreneurship, Aayush believes, are hustle, persistence, and patience. "It's definitely somewhat of that journey but my biggest advice would be to question things and barriers. Instead of seeking resources to do things in the usual ways, the unavailability of resources makes you frugal."
"Be curious, learn not only from your mistakes and experiences but the more you network you'll understand the challenges faced by everyone else. The start-up community in Qatar is very helpful to each other and we are going to be that way, endorsing healthy competition but yet be supportive."
The cost of one Plushy toy is 220 QR. Their website makemyplushy.com is currently under development and should be ready in 3 weeks for people to upload drawings online as well and place an order.
Despite the overwhelming feedback that they're receiving, Aayush is aware of the fact that his business is still very new, and a lot of people still don't know about it.
This dilemma pushes the team to do workshops every weekends and this Saturday, they're having a Family Breakfast Workshop where families can come with their children and enjoy a buffet breakfast while having a Plushy workshop.
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