Grumpy Kid Studio is a Montreal-based ceramics studio making mugs, plates, vases and other ceramics with an adorably grumpy flair. Our team are big fans of the grumpy mugs, so when Grumpy Kid founder Garbo Zhu reached out to us to start her custom packaging journey, we knew we couldn’t disappoint.
We sat down virtually with Garbo to talk about her custom packaging journey with LeKAC. Read on to learn more!
About Grumpy Kid Studio
At the height of the pandemic, Garbo was looking for a creative outlet. She turned to air-dry clay from the craft store, adding her now signature grumpy faces to her new creations before photographing them and posting them online. As that gained traction, people began inquiring about her work.
After taking a hand-building pottery class 5 minutes from her house, hobby turned to side hustle as Grumpy Kid took off. She ran her studio from her parents’ living room in Toronto while working 9-5, releasing mugs in small drops. In 2022, she moved to Montreal, got married, and quit her day job in construction to take on her business full time. She’s since expanded to other ceramics (one of our favourites: a sandwich plate inspired by her husband).
photo via Grumpy Kid Studio
Now, Grumpy Kid has a designated studio space with a small team helping with production. The mugs are a combination of wheel-thrown and slip cast. This is helpful for making sure that quality remains consistent across all mugs and allows for bigger drops!
Grumpy Kid mostly operates online as an e-commerce business. Shipping ceramics is delicate business; they’re fragile, but heavy! Before starting her journey with LeKAC, Garbo took every possible precaution to ensure the grumpy mugs arrived in their new homes safely. She focused on eco-friendly packaging options, such as biodegradable packing peanuts and honeycomb paper bubble wrap.
Though this worked, the process of packaging the mugs took a long time. Every mug has to be snugly packed in their box to make sure there’s no breakage in transit. Garbo also wanted to create a memorable unboxing experience for her customers. This meant an upgrade from the plain brown Kraft shipping boxes she was using previously.
We previously worked with Kopi Thyme on shipping packaging for their sauces and marinades. Since their products were also heavy and fragile, we created a custom mailer box with a matching insert to keep their jars secure.
We knew a similar approach would work perfectly for Garbo’s grumpy mugs! Taking her mugs as inspiration, we came up with four design options.
Overall, Garbo preferred Option 4! She liked this option best because it emulated the pastel airbrushing she often uses. After a few small modifications to the text on the box and the size of the inserts, we were ready to head into mass production!
When the samples arrived in our office, Garbo loved the way they looked. However, there was still the big question: would the packaging protect the grumpy mugs? Garbo provided our office with sample mugs to get the sizing right for the insert. When she asked us to perform a drop test of the sample mugs in the new mailer boxes, we delivered!
The mugs took a tumble down the stairs and got tossed around at our office in the insert, giving us a perfect opportunity to put the packaging to the test. We didn’t use any additional packing peanuts or paper so we could truly see if the insert was doing its job… And it did! In the tests we conducted, the mug stayed in perfect condition.
When we asked Garbo what her favourite part of working with LeKAC was, the answer was simple: working with our consultant Phil!
Phil is so fun! Whenever I asked him for updates, I feel like I can always get an answer right away.Garbo Zhu
What’s Next For Grumpy Kid?
As fans of Grumpy Kid Studio, we had to ask: what’s next? Garbo revealed she wants to expand her team to more include more wheel throwers. She’s also started to build a connection with her audience, showing more of her daily life! Ceramics and other grumpy items are on their way too.
Need to get your hands on a grumpy mug? Be sure to check out Grumpy Kid’s Instagram to keep up with the drops!
Grumpy Kid Studio