How Budsies discovered a way to make children’s drawings come to life

This entrepreneurial business turned kids’ imaginative artwork into in-demand toys.

Originally posted 7/15/21

Kids tend to surprise adults with their boundless creativity — they often have an unstoppable capacity to make art out of any idea, whether that’s by making music, telling stories, or drawing. The South Florida-based company Budsies found a unique way to harness kids’ creative energy and help it last a lifetime: They create custom-sewn stuffed animals based on kids’ favorite illustrations, bringing their bright ideas to life.

Budsies was born from a big idea and an even bigger mission—to make the world a more huggable place. For the Budsies crew, it wasn’t just about turning artwork into huggable, loveable shapes, it was about putting something meaningful into the world that would provide people with lasting comfort, cuddles and joy. Since officially launching in 2013, Budsies has taken off — with 136,000 toys finding happy homes in 63 countries across the world.

From a paper napkin to Shark Tank

Budsies quickly realized tremendous growth — going from a simple sketch on a paper napkin to a thriving business with multiple products, investors, and significant media attention, within just two years. After the success of their first doll, Dongler, Budsies started taking orders, bloggers began to rave, and, by June 2014, Budsies had landed a big break: They partnered with the video game Cut the Rope on a fan-art collaboration.

From there, it was off to the races, with an investment from the firm MHS Capital and a write-up in the 2014 holiday guide from The New York Times. Then a feature on an episode of Shark Tank exposed the entrepreneurial enterprise to millions of families and generated over 100,000 web visitors in a single weekend.

Empowering millions of children’s imaginations

Since then, Budsies has expanded beyond their original customed stuffed animals — which are still a popular offering — to include other kinds of creative huggable toys. Budsies Selfies are custom plush dolls designed to look just like whatever photograph you send in — so you can make a doll that looks just like you or your favorite person. Hand-sewn with super-soft plush and hypoallergenic stuffing, these plush dolls also come with voice recorders, letting you send a special message along with your gift.

That’s not the only thing you can do with your selfies: You can also turn them into huggable pillows — as an entertaining gift for family, friends, or co-workers — with a custom shape based on the photograph you choose, from a full-body snapshot to a headshot. And now, with Petsies, your favorite non-human members of your household can join in the fun, too. Create a stuffed animal lookalike of your pet or design a plush pillow to rest your head against.

Bringing huggable friends to hospitals

Giving to those in need is an essential aspect of everything that Budsies does. So much so, that “impact” is their #1 core value and integral to their team culture. Their goal is to help bring a smile to the faces of millions of children facing challenges, in whatever ways they can.

Every year, Budsies partners with a different hospital to bring joy and comfort to children undergoing treatment — and hundreds of people in the Budsies community come together to help support these initiatives, making sure that kids have something soft and cuddly to hold onto.

Want to help Budsies achieve their mission of making a more huggable world? Head on over to their site for your own custom stuffed animal or pillow. When you’re done designing the perfect Budsies for you, remember that you can easily check out with Amazon Pay in just a few clicks — it’s that simple.