“I’m not the best artist. I’m terrible,” Jackson Ow said with a laugh.
This may seem ironic, given that the 32-year-old is the founder and CEO of Mighty Jaxx, a Singapore-based designer toy company.
But for Aw, acknowledging his own shortcomings helped him turn his start-up into a multimillion-dollar international toy business.
“It’s this realization that … I have to choose people who are much smarter than me. I work with them and I work with them,” he said. CNBC Do it.
“If this artist has dedicated his career to building this craft, then they are better than what I can be.”
Founded in 2012, Mighty Jaxx has partnered with some of the world’s largest brands and visual artistsproducing modern collectibles that include pop culture and design.
She has since sold “millions” of collectible toys to people in more than 80 countries, Aw said.
It all started when he started watching a lot of “how-to videos” on YouTube, which he found “fascinating”.
“Those videos that tell you how to make chicken bites, such as how to make hot dogs, are the process that goes into this. “While I was looking at them, I looked at my shelf of collectibles that I have,” he said.
“Can I create something physical with my own hands and make it?”
Au, an avid 17-year-old toy collector, decided to book a one-way flight to Shenzhen, China, where he visited factories to learn about the toy manufacturing process.
His curiosity quickly turned to amazement when he learned techniques such as hand sculpting and shaping.
“I thought there would be only a few machines that would spit out (toys) outside. And that, to be honest, was very naive, “he said.
“I was shocked to see hundreds of people … just crafting and painting on this one element, for what our perception will be a product of the mass market.”
Inspired by what he saw in China, Jackson returned home a month later to create his own designer toy with a Singaporean graffiti artist. Clogtwo.
Together, they created Mighty Jaxx’s first collector’s item, “Hell Lotus.” With a $ 20,000 loan, he produced 200 pieces of the toy, which he launched at the Singapore Comics Convention in 2012.
Aw sold the inventory in six months and there was no going back. “It’s as if we’ve never experienced this fear again. So we took the money and turned it over.”
Over the years, Mighty Jaxx has continued to partner with visual artists from around the world to create unique, limited-edition collectibles while remaining a “positive cash flow,” Aw said.
“We never took other people’s money until much later,” he added.
The tide really turned for the company in 2015, when Aw reached its first licensing partnership with DC Comics of Warner Brothers.
He remembers sending an email to Julian Montoya – who he was Warner Brothers“Vice President of World Toys at the time – on a whim, hoping to” restyle “Warner Brothers” creative intellectual property like the characters of DC Comics.
“His secretary replied (saying) that we have 30 minutes this Friday, you can come and just talk to us.
He flew to Burbank, California, where he showed Montoya the potential designs and 3D prototypes of DC toys. “In the end, he just said, ‘Okay.’ We will shake it, “said Au.
“I left the room and thought, ‘No, that can’t be real.'” The next day they sent the contract, and it was a global deal.
This deal, which Aw said was a “huge leap of faith” on the part of Montoya, quadrupled the top line for Mighty Jaxx.
According to Aw, his company made $ 1.7 million in 2015, four times more than the previous year.
“And then (I get it), damn it, something’s going on,” he said.
These collaborations have allowed Aw to produce collectibles on a larger scale and at lower prices, making them more accessible to fans.
DC’s collectibles, for example, sold for $ 10 each. This is affordable compared to other Mighty Jaxx toys, which are produced in much smaller quantities, which can cost up to $ 1,200.
In 2020, Aw also began producing boxes for the blind that contained figurines or toys unknown to buyers until they were unpacked.
He is partnering with an American designer Jason Freeneywho is known for his anatomical art.
“We’ve applied it to many of our licensing partners, and everyone likes it because it’s such an alternative,… And now it’s become a mainstay for us.”
The keen eye for what is fashionable it certainly paid off. According to Mighty Jaxx, the company’s revenue has grown at a complicated rate of 71% from 2019 to 2021.
Aw also managed to 30 under 30 Asia on Forbes list in 2018, at 28 years old.