Tofu Cute were one of the big winners in the SCK Awards, ending the night as your second favourite real life store and blog, and third favourite online store! We asked Miss Tofu herself to tell us more about working at such a super cute shop.
Introduce yourself! Who are you and what do you do?
Hello, my name is Kiru (aka Miss Tofu!) and I am a senior staff member at Tofu Cute. I wear many metaphorical hats and do many jobs~ I do a little of everything, from looking after our shop in Portsmouth, helping with online web-orders, social media and working around the country at conventions. You may know me as the author of our Tofu Cute blog or from stage events at conventions, such as our informative and frankly ‘hilarious’ Tofu Cute Snack Panels!
Can you tell us how Tofu Cute started and how it’s grown since then?
Tofu Cute started as a little business back in 2010. Before Tofu Cute we ran a company called Electronic Pet Shop. We noticed that people just loved all things cute, fun and Japanese; we decided it was time to dedicate ourselves to bringing Japanese kawaii culture to the UK and the rest of the world.
Since then Tofu Cute has grown so much! Our little Tofu family has expanded with more wonderful staff helping at events than ever as well as back in Tofu HQ. We now have one of the pinkest shops in the country, located in Portsmouth UK which puts our lowly beginnings to shame. We also have pop-up shops at events that are over 120 square metres in size, which are truly a sight to behold! We have also travelled around Europe and the UK with our pop up stalls to places like Paris, the Netherlands and Scotland with our little hardworking team of Tofu staff.
We’ve even branched over to Japanese Fashion with our fabulous sister company Dreamy Bows, which stocks famous Japanese fashion brands such as Listen Flavor, KOKOkim and Chocomint. We can’t wait to see what is coming next for us!
What’s the best part of working for Tofu Cute?
That’s quite tricky, I would say there are two things that I love about working for Tofu Cute the most. The first is that I get to do so many strange and wonderful things that I know I would never usually get to do in an average job. Such as holding hands with a Panda in Paris, selecting Kit Kat flavours in Tokyo in the dead of night and explaining the significance of adorable poops with faces to baffled and bemused parents. The second thing I love most about working for Tofu Cute is that I get to meet so many different people from all walks of life, with different backgrounds and interests. I love seeing the happy smiles of customers and shrieks of excitement when they see our stands and shop. I love the fact that I get to play a big part in creating a cute wacky Japanese-y world in which their kawaii dreams can come true! (*^o^*)
Which product deliveries do the staff get most excited about unpacking?
As you can imagine we get lots of amazing deliveries from Japan and it can be a little like ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ at times, overflowing with treasures! But I’m sure you can guess that Amuse deliveries are one of the staff favourites to unpack.
We usually receive enough boxes to fill our entire shop floor to ceiling. We then get to spend a while deciphering which cutie is in each box, and then of course we get to ‘inspect’ them! It’s rather like going to fluffy heaven with so many hundreds of adorable critters pouring from each box. It can be a little overwhelming but in the best possible way. Much squeeing and awwwing can be heard all around the office!
What are your top 3 Tofu Cute products that SCK readers should check out?
Only 3?! ooh that’s a tough one.. Well my undisputable all time favourite Japanese snacks are Meiji Kinoko no Yama Chocolate Biscuits in all flavours. You get lots in a pack (which is always a bonus), the chocolate is rich and creamy and the biscuit is crunchy. The highly important ‘biscuit to chocolate ratio’ is just right, and there is something totally addictive about the shape when you bite it. I cannot get enough of them!
Next would be the Amuse Mameshiba Pup Neckerchief Keychains! Here at Tofu Cute we are absolutely swimming in Amuse plushies so of course we all can’t resist having a favourite. Mine is the slightly under-the-radar Mameshiba Pubs as my favourite dog is a Japanese Shiba Inu because they always look like they’re smiling, which in turn fills me with happiness! The best bit about these adorable keychains is the fact you can attach them to your bag so they can smile at you wherever you go~
Lastly is my cheeky favourite DIY candy kit, it’s Crayon Shin Chan Butt Pudding DIY Kit because who can resist spending the afternoon making little wibbly wobbly puddings shaped like bottoms!
What do Tofu Cute have planned for 2016?
We have lots of exciting things in the pipeline this year. We plan to stock a wider range of official Sanrio and San-X goodies, including popular characters like Gudetama, Kirimi Chan, Rilakkuma and Sumikko Gurashi. We are also working on super exciting, never done before, Tofu Cute Lucky Bags. They will be available all year round in a delicious snack variant and adorable gift variant which will include Amuse plushies!
We will also be attending a new event, which is Liverpool MCM Comic Con. This will be the first time there has ever been this type of event in Liverpool, we are very excited to attend and meet lots of lovely new customers. And lastly we have something super special in the works that will be revealed later this year, but if we told you about that… well… let’s just say it’s Top Secret.
How do you feel about placing so highly in the SCK Awards for kawaii online shop, store and blog?
It’s absolutely exhilarating! We are so pleased to be nominated for the SCK Awards, it makes us want to try even harder to be as kawaii as possible and to help bring cute and crazy Japanese Kawaii culture to our customers and fans worldwide~ \(^o^)/
Thank you Kiru! Check out the Tofu Cute online store or Portsmouth shop for all the kawaii plush, stationery and candy with shipping worldwide. You can also read their blog or follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for news and event dates.
(All photos by Kiru/Tofu Cute)
Marceline is the co-founder and editor of Super Cute Kawaii and author of The Super Cute Book of Kawaii. She also designs cute character goods as Asking For Trouble. Having visited Japan five times, Marceline is enormously inspired by all things Japanese and especially loves bunnies, space and any kind of food object with a happy face.