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Just Funky has a knack for forecasting trends, and also showcasing both new and evergreen brands in a new light at any cost.
Patricia DeLuca

August 15, 2018

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To say that the team at Just Funky has an eye for detail is an understatement. A few years ago, the team was working on a “Sons of Anarchy” fleece blanket, which took six months of development. Chief executive officer Raj Arora noticed something in the photo rendering of the fleece blanket: a slight shadow on Jax Teller’s hand didn’t come out properly.

“I wouldn’t let it go. The licensor and customer said, ‘We’re OK with it, just ship it.’ But we had to perfect it,” says Raj Arora.

Let it be known that when you work with Just Funky, quality control is intense and may not meet tight shipping deadlines, but its product will stand out in the market.

“When we work with a licensor, we look for the value that we as a partner can add on to their property,” says Shivani Arora, president, Just Funky. “We want to make sure we’re representing our licensing partners with the best in designing and innovation and that we share the same vision.”

Just Funky launched in 2012, and is a family-orientated company

based in Wooster, Ohio. In its earlier days, the Aroras and their small staff   (which is now up to 84 employees) did their due diligence for ways to stand out in the market.

“Our program is a well-researched portfolio of trending and classic licenses,” adds Shivani Arora. “We started with an idea by filling a void –selling cool products that were high-quality but affordable.”

“I didn’t want to be just another guy selling mugs and sell them cheaper to have a business relationship,” says Raj Arora. “We wanted to come up with something where we provide a value not just to the retailer but to the consumer.”

It was a meeting with the head of Spencer’s that kickstarted Just Funky’s new licensing venture.

“Steven Silverstein said something which really struck me: ‘Raj, we don’t sell things anyone needs. We sell things people got to have. That’s what you should be doing,’” recalls Raj Arora. “I came back from the meeting like an excited kid, because this is what I wanted to do.”

Just Funky’s credo for working with licensors is simple. “We provide best product and best quality; no logo-slapping at all,” says Raj Arora.

“We’re extremely hands-on in every aspect,” continues Shivani Arora. “Starting with the vision of the licensor, to the needs of our buyers and their market and demographic.”   “If you come up with an awesome product, you’re going to make a profit,” says Raj Arora. “Profit is a byproduct. And that’s what I’ve always believed in, and culturally that’s what we want for our company. Our No. 1 objective is to deliver a product that would make a consumer say, ‘Wow!’” What is the wow factor? “When a customer sees [a Just Funky product] on the shelf at GameStop or Spencer’s, and if they only have $10 in their pocket and the mug was $9.99, and if the $10 meant buying an extra gallon of gas, they’ll stretch on gas for another mile and buy the mug,” says Raj Arora.

And, judging by its vast catalog of licensors, the company’s objective has helped business. Since launching in 2012, the company now has more than 100 licenses for kitchenware like 3D beverage mugs, home décor, automotive, pins and keychains for properties like TV’s “Rick & Morty,” “Riverdale” and “The Golden Girls;” music properties Pink Floyd, Guns N’ Roses and Live Nation; and video games such as “Cuphead,” “Fallout” and “Halo” that are sold at retailers like GameStop, Hot Topic and Target.

While the products may be considered novelty to some, their price points make sure both licensors and retailers are getting the most out of its licensed products. “We were never the cheapest, but we started getting more of the market share, which gave us more confidence,”  says  Raj Arora. “Just Funky challenged the retailers to go ahead and sell something more expensive. The customers will pay for it because they’re lacking that product in the market.”To make sure Just Funky is getting the right products out to consumers, staffers meet with Raj Arora regularly to pitch properties like TV shows, video games and bands. “When we believe in something, we will go to the ends of the earth to make it work,” says Kristin Raap, licensing coordinator, Just Funky.

Sometimes Just Funky’s faith in innovative products might seem like a gamble to licensors and retailers, but end up with surprising results. Before the “Sons of Anarchy” fleece blanket launch, another customer came to Just Funky to produce a licensed fleece blanket. The catch was, it had to be at a lower price point to compete with the other fleece blankets out in the market. Armed with two years of on-site research with Chinese manufacturers, Arora had a plan.

“Instead of going lower, let’s make a blanket no one has made before, with digital photo-realistic print, 10 colors instead of three, and the price point will be double,” Raap recalls. The average retail blankets were selling at $9.99; Just Funky’s new blanket would retail at $19.99.

“The customer was concerned, but bought into it because Raj said it was a good idea,” says Raap.

Just Funky used their own money to make sure the order minimum of 3,000 blankets could be made. The customer sold out the blankets within a weekend. 

Another roll of the dice was for “Breaking Bad” beaker housewares, which came out during season 3 of the AMC TV series. The staff at Just Funky were fans of the show, and wanted to create product that fans would use.

“While we were developing it, the factory thought we were going to mix chemicals in the beakers but needed handles on them,” says Raj Arora. “They were trying to figure out why we were buying 40,000 beakers at a time.”

The line became one of the best-sellers at Think Geek.

 Just Funky’s practices may be unorthodox, but it’s the fans’ feedback about the product that matters most to the company.  

“Once we got it out there, the fans said, ‘We don’t care how much it costs. That’s what I want,” says Raap.

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