Skye Saylor and Thomas Marnin make Pastry Pets, handmade toys borne from an imaginary world and sold at Seattle’s world-famous Pike Place Market. Their dream: A brick and mortar storefront of their own, chock full of a diverse assortment Pastry Pet products.
“Some people just don’t get it,” says Saylor. At face value, the toys are quiet odd without context. They are small plushies in the shapes of pastries. But they’re cats. It all started when Saylor posted a photo of her first Donut Cat creation on Facebook. Comments of “I want one!!” flooded in. Eventually, she teamed up with Marnin to build a booth and try their hands at selling some of their toys at a craft fair in Seattle in September of 2013. Almost a year later, the duo went full time as “MarninSaylor”.
“The magic of toys is built from the experience attached to it,” says Marnin. “Like, think about how kids won’t hesitate to buy a ‘Frozen’ doll or coloring book. The difference with our toys is that we have to build that experience from scratch.” This experience is their booth at Pike Place Market. Dressed vintage soda-fountain attire, the team stays in character for full retail theater implemented within eight square feet.
I can’t help but ask “Why Pastry Pets?” and Saylor’s response: why not? “We’re selling a piece of a world that we want you to be a part of.” This world, as it turns out, runs deep. Marnin & Saylor gave me a tour of their manufacturing studio in SoDo, and I saw firsthand that they make a LOT of stuff. From tote bags to keychains to limited edition Pizza Cat plushies, their product selection paired with their idea lists and prototypes make for a dizzying collection of toys.
Though the world is whimsical, painfully cute, and magical, the realities of making and selling Donut Cats can often be brutal. “I think the biggest mistake that creators can make is thinking that success comes easy,” says Marnin. “Every day is a huge challenge, and we have to work very hard to make sure the business doesn’t fail.” Working hard means taking two days off a month and spending the rest of the time manufacturing in their studio in order to make sure they’re stocked for Pike Place Market. In such a fast-paced and bustling environment, many new retailers in the Market can’t keep up with the heavy foot traffic of this Seattle landmark.
But, Marnin & Saylor have high hopes for the future of their business. “We probably have 300 core fans, plus a rotating fanbase of about 1,000,” says Saylor. The customer feedback on their products is overwhelmingly positive, and there is clearly demand for the company’s story and brand. The team has been eyeing locations for their brick and mortar store, but it is becoming a game of timing and numbers. “Something is going to have to change in the business in the next year,” says Marnin. Exactly what kind of change is still unclear. But until then, MarninSaylor is bringing a surplus of enthusiasm, creativity, and cuteness to the Market.
You can find more Pastry Pets at http://www.marninsaylor.com/.