10 Jan 2007
Animal Antics(HKTDC Gifts, Premium & Stationery, Vol 01,2007)
|The Debbi Concepts collections range of fun animal characters targets the young-at-heart|
The managing director of the new company says she simply wanted to build an international brand and create products people would enjoy owning. "We have our own factory in Dongguan on the Chinese mainland called Akina Industrial Ltd," she explains.
Akina, which employs some 500 people in a factory covering approximately 7,500 square metres, manufactures polyresin products, while other items are subcontracted to neighbouring factories.
"We produce all kinds of bags such as school bags, cosmetic bags and pencil pouches as well as cushions, key rings and picture frames," Fung says.
The company's signature lines, however, are the Debbi Concepts collections that are built around a range of animal characters created and developed by the company's design team.
They include elephants Sissie and Rondo, dogs Maggio and Tessa, hippos Gina and Marco, pigs Tanny and Piggy and bears Alberto and Sofie. "We have seasonal collections each year, plus our concept collections, so there are a lot of different animals in our family," Fung concedes.
The characters appear in the form of plush toys, mini key rings, soft PVC mobile-phone strings, screen cleaners and pencil pouches, and their likenesses also decorate coin purses, rucksacks, mugs, plush key holders and magnets.
"We're aiming Debbi Concepts at teenagers and young adults," Fung explains, adding that all designs are patented. "We import the fabrics from Korea to maintain a high level of quality and mostly use polyester, though it might be mixed with cotton."
Debbi's major market at present is Europe, and the company has a representative office in Portugal. "We know and understand the market, and believe Debbi is in tune with European tastes," Fung says. "We also export to Singapore, Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia and sell some products on the mainland."
Other markets Debbi is now addressing include the US, Mexico and Ecuador, but Fung stresses that international expansion of its customer base is being carefully paced.
"We want to provide a professional customer service in each market we are in," she insists. "We provide back-up to customers from leaflets to point-of-sale displays."
The company has developed specially-designed display boxes for its Bag Concept Assortment and stands for its
T-shirt Bear, Colour Bear and mobile phone accessory lines.
FOB Yantian unit prices range from about US$1-20, with delivery usually about 60 days after order confirmation - although it can take longer during peak periods. "There are no minimum orders for Debbi-branded products," Fung adds.
Although the company is in a highly cost-competitive area, Fung insists that Debbi is concerned primarily with original design and quality of manufacturing.
"We invest a lot in R&D and we don't sell cheap products," she stresses. "We play a lot with mix and match - for example, I play with different materials for each product."
It is important, Fung believes, that the product lines are regularly refreshed and for this reason the company frequently produces new collections.
"We have four collections per year - the Back to School Collection, the Valentines' Day Collection, the Winter Collection and the Summer Collection," she explains.
Fung says there are "about' 100 different items in each set and she learns from each collection. "Our Katty selection is our most successful line now because there is a sexy element to the character," she believes. "We wanted to get an adult element into the product but some countries are very conservative, so although some products in the Katty range have underwear showing others don't."
Another example of Debbi Concepts' risquˆm approach is The Love Katty Collection, which Fung says was aimed at putting some 'fun' into the market. "We call it Sexy Katty because we have some sexy elements in the accessories," she explains. "For example, the mobile-phone band is not a normal elastic band - it is like a bra strap complete with buckle."
Other successful new products include Pencil Concepts, the Message Bears line, the Winter Puppy Collection and the Gardening Collection. "We have grown very rapidly in three years," Fung concludes, "and intend to build the brand in future."
WRITTEN BY ROBERT PIERCE