Otakon Artist Alley Spotlight: Holly Guenther of Kimchi Kawaii

kimchi kawaii booth otakon
Kimchi Kawaii's booth at Otakon. Player.One/ND Medina

Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows I go a little crazy when it comes to Artist Alleys at any convention. I love supporting artists, I love handmade goods and I love the unlimited variations of style, color and expression I can see on display simply by browsing the shop floor. At Otakon I had the opportunity to chat with Holly Guenther of Kimchi Kawaii, whose booth was well-attended by con-goers who fell for her idiosyncratic mix of adorable cats with really cute food.

“This is my third or fourth Otakon,” said Guenther. “I do conventions pretty much all over the country. Most of them are based in California, and then I come over to the East Coast for Otakon and Anime Boston, and I'm always looking for more cons to add to the line-up.”

While Guenther usually frequents anime conventions, she looks forward to breaking into comic cons. “I do some craft fairs as well,” she said.

Her business consists of plushies, acrylic pins, keychains and zip pouches on Storenvy, as well as vinyl die-cut stickers and t-shirts on Redbubble and clothing, accessories and drinkware on Zazzle. All of it is centrally accessible at Guenther’s official Kimchi Kawaii site.

“My business has been around for nine years now, but the plushies I started doing about two to three years ago,” said Guenther, who got her start on print-on-demand service Cafepress. “There's no overhead and it's really good for people who are just starting out. I still have some of my print-on-demand sites, but I did start slowly moving into accessories like charms and pins and buttons.”

At first, Guenther didn’t think to sell her prints, but eventually she did sell them - and the kitty plushies as well. Her aesthetic marries two of everybody’s favorite things: cats and food. “I love cats. My allergies don't love cats, so it's the only way I can do it,” she said with a laugh. “Everybody loves cats, and I figured that would be a really fun thing to do. Coffee is a huge thing in America, so, cats and coffee, why not?”

While the bulk of Guenther’s sales are made at conventions, Guenther is in the process of reworking her current website in order to take sales directly through her own portal. “The goal is to move into this full-time,” said Guenther. “Right now I still do have a full-time job. But I'm getting very close.”

Guenther recommends prospective crafters look up community groups online. She recommends Artist Alley Network International on Facebook. “There's thousands of us on there who do these things all the time, and a lot of people are very open to answering questions and helping out,” she said. “People can drop me an email, I'm always willing to help out. It's just like - pick a passion and go with it. Just know it's going to be a lot of hard work and it helps to be a little bit crazy, but it's totally rewarding too.”

mewcaron kimchi kawaii otakon
The Kimchi Kawaii plush I came home from Otakon with. Photo: Player.One/ND Medina

For more info on Kimchi Kawaii, check out Guenther’s official site here. And just in case you’re wondering: I walked away with the purple Mewcaron Kitty Cat Plush and it was worth every cent.

Have you ever tabled at a con before? Wondering what it takes? Feel free to chat about Kimchi Kawaii, Artist Alley and the kind of merch you like to see in our comments section below.

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