Hearing that in your day to day life might make you wonder if the compliment giver has some Hannibal Lecter-esque tendencies… but it’s something that’s totally common to hear when you’re on property, as Disney vacation goers say.
In fact, walking around at Disney World or Disneyland, you’re hard-pressed to find someone who isn’t showing their Disney love in the form of a cute Minnie Ear headband, a funny Disney themed shirt or some sort of other Disney accessory.
Case and point—We’re delving into the entrepreneurial world that Disney has spurred and inspired themselves. It’s called the Small Shops and these shops are by Disney fans like me and you who create shops to sell Disney-inspired gear and accessories to decorate your home, things to wear in the park. And even some things that are really innovative and enhance your overall Disney experience.
When I (Yasmine) was a kid, I’d go to Disneyland often because I had family in LA. And we’d always go for the day, but I had never experienced the magic of the world until I was an adult. In fact, I was 34, my first trip to Disney World. I spent so much time planning every moment of the trip. And I just remember going on to shop disney.com and looking at all of the cool ears and wishing I can get them all to match all my outfits because of course I was going to try Disney bounding for my first trip there, but the shop doesn’t really ship to Canada and it was going to be really expensive to get five different sets of years to match every single outfit.
Enter…the Small Shops!
I went to Etsy just to see if anyone had anything or I could find anything that would be an adequate replacement. And my mind was blown. I ended up not only finding a whole bunch of years to choose from but I found a pair of ears that had sparkly, interchangeable bows. So all I had to do was buy five or in my case, 10 different bows, and I could match every single outfit. I was able to Disney bound as all the princesses and have ears to match with only one pair.
Let’s run! For…fun?
I (Nicole) did a run Disney race. It was my first one and I was really excited about it, but I was more in my head about the running than about the experience of it, because I am not a runner. I trained for months to try and even be able to finish a 10K and the extracurricular side of it didn’t even come to my mind until probably a day or two before we were leaving to go to the race. And it’s a big deal to run a Disney race! Apparently there are costumes, there are tutus, anything you can possibly imagine. And the joke I had made when I first signed up for the star Wars run was that my husband was running on the dark side. He was the rival run. So it’s the dark side versus the light side. He chose the dark side and I chose the light side.
And if you are a Star Wars fan, you probably know that hope is what the rebellion is built on. So I would use this phrase when I was talking about this run; I’m huffing and puffing with hope because I don’t know if I can actually run a 10 K, right? And so I get there and you know, it’s two 30 in the morning, the race is starting in three hours. And I see all these people wearing amazing outfits that they either made themselves, or they went to Etsy and found. And I was like, man, I really should have gotten a shirt that said huffing and puffing with hope. And I felt so left out and came home. And I immediately went to Etsy to search for “run Disney” to see what’s even available.
Talk about Small Shops!
There’s a whole industry that supports people who are addicted to running and Disney. It’s amazing how many small shops created all this stuff, probably because they are Disney runners and they went and wanted all these items for themselves. And now you can see, Disney’s kind of copying them in some ways, because when I entered the expo, the first thing you do when you get to run Disney, is you have to go pick up your bib and they have an expo there and it’s just insane how many products they have available to you.
And they’re specific to the race you’re running too. They have 5K shirts, they have 10 K, they have challenges, they have special metals, commemorative pins, everything possible. And so there’s so many things to buy while you’re there. And that’s all spurred from the fact that these other industries are creating things. They may as well create and upsell it. So we definitely spent a good number of dollars in that little area to commemorate our first run Disney. And now we’ll probably be back because of it!
I read a lot of stories about parents wanting to save money and shopping in the parks and stopping at Walmart and Target and picking up cute little Elsa costumes and Mickey shirts so they have Disney gear in the parks that they don’t have to spend Disney parks prices for. But now they have so much more choice and they’re stepping beyond the sort of standard Disney licensing products or licensed products.
They are able to buy from independent sellers that are coming up with the most creative and let’s be real slogans for shirts. They’re coming up with cute costume accessories. If you go on Etsy and you search for Mickey ears right now, you’re going to come up with over 39,000 results. Let that sink in for a second. 39,000 different types of Mickey ears, and Disney has won their shop 10, 15. I know they’re constantly adding things, but it doesn’t compare to the selection that you can find online.
I also think that people making their own and selling them spur Disney to get into this let’s-create-as-many-ears-as-we-can. Let’s have the vault again, where we put some ears away, we bring some new ones out. There are way more, many ears now and styles and options than there were even two or three years ago. When we would go as an adult we didn’t even see people wearing many ears as much as you do now. Now everyone has a different color for every outfit I personally travel with too.
The innovative products
I want to take a second to talk about some of the innovative products that they’re coming up with. So did you know that you can actually buy a case to hold your Minnie ears? I don’t know about you, but like I carefully wrapped them in my suitcase. Try to make sure, you know, the bows don’t get smushed, but how cool is it that there’s an actual accessory for those hardcore Disney fans to protect their most valued accessory?
And one of the things I saw with the run Disney stuff is there are people who make things like plaques and things. You can hang on the wall in your house to display all the metals you get, because you know, you do one run Disney, you’ve got to collect all the rest of the metals. So it was just really interesting to see because I never would have thought of that. Like I said, I’m not a runner. And I don’t have these metals from all these races, but you bring it home. You need to display it somewhere. It’s not going to go in the closet. So now you can get a piece to hang it on and it spurs you to go on more Disney trips.
There are these really cute wooden Mickey signs that you can basically hook all your magic bands around. You can add four or five, but you really want to fill it up to really make that a display piece in your house. So same thing with the Run Disney medals, you would actually want to go to Disney to get more magic bands to fill that up. So they are coming up with really interesting ways to protect and display your Disney fanaticism, which is so super cool.
The stylish products
I think it’s also important to talk about how yes, before you could go to Target or Walmart and just get a simple shirt with a Mickey face on it. But now there’s different styles. And I mean, there’s a whole industry of children’s clothing, right? You can have high end children’s clothing where you’ve got these like princess inspired dresses that are still Orlando weather friendly because that is not what the traditional princess dress is. That’s usually a little bit like starchy. The kids don’t really want to wear it all day long, but they do. You can go find some really cute Disney inspired gear from these small shops.
Doing research for this episode, I started getting ads served to me on Facebook for some of these small shops and, you know, things that I would come across were high-end designer-ish brands for kids that were designing Disney inspired gear. So they had like bomber jackets with Mickey ears on the back and they were beautiful and gorgeous. And I just keep thinking as a parent, my daughter would outgrow that in like a month, but it is adorable. And I need that for my trip!
The high-end products
Another super interesting thing with small shops is yes, they’re creating things for kids, but they’re also expanding the possibility of what adults can buy that are Disney related. So we tease our client about this quite a bit, but she once said to us that when she thinks of adult Disney fans, she thinks of someone wearing a super faded Donald duck shirt from like 20 years ago. And let’s be real… for the longest time, that’s kind of all there was. It was Disney kid’s clothes, but in adult sizes and the small shop industry has been able to create really fun, trendy, really cool shirts that you actually want to wear as a grownup and created this entire market of products for Disney adult fans.
Small shops are getting Disney’s attention
You can buy high-end Disney jewelry with like your favorite quotes on it that are 24 karat gold bracelets. You can buy designer handbags. You know, coaches definitely put out a few Disney bags. Kate spade has too, but some of these Disney’s small shops are actually creating artisan handcrafted leather goods that are Disney inspired as well. So you’re not gonna buy those things for your kids, but as an adult, you might like to splurge on, or dress up your Disney outfit when you’re in the park. So it’s really cool that they basically created an entire market that in a way, Disney was kind of ignoring, had forced Disney to really step up their game.
Disney came out with so many more ears because they noticed these small shops coming up with super creative and crafty designs in 2017. Disney doubled the amount of merchandise and specifically licensed merchandise that they had in shop disney.com. They noticed that in 2016 retail sales are falling by 6%. People just weren’t spending as much time in malls. And why would they, when they had a plethora of options available to them online at their fingertips? Just not from Disney. They closed a lot of Disney stores all around. Now that’s just really trendy and modern with the clothes that they have.
They’re kind of bringing back some of the eighties style, early nineties style, and how the shirts are cut. Well, that’s my biggest deal with t-shirts as a woman. And I’m sure most of you can relate. They just aren’t ever cut for our bodies. They’re so square. And they actually make things that fit in, look nicely on all sorts of body types, because everyone loves Disney. And it’s just been great to see that, that transformation, I never bought souvenirs or merchandiser gear and I’ve been to Disney many, many times. And I will say that I didn’t start buying these things until probably the last two to three years, because nothing really ever appealed to me. And now they’re creating these designs that I would actually wear outside of the parks without feeling bad about it, because it’s not a faded Donald duck shirt saying that I’m going crackers or something silly.
Disney steps up their merchandise game
Disney’s actually collaborating with some of these like small shop artisans to bring you more creative and innovative products. I’m a big makeup fan. I spent way too much money at Sephora. And some of the collections I’ve been super jazzed about was ColourPop’s collaboration with Disney for both the designer princess collection and the villains collection. Yes, I bought every single piece. No, I will never wear a purple highlighter, but I really, really wanted that highlighter with Ursula on it. Cause it’s super cool. So they’re actually making it more accessible to get cool Disney things by partnering with brands that have an entirely different audience space and in a way, capitalizing on the nostalgia of Disney. And that has really turned around retail sales for Disney. So we’ve talked a lot about what Disney has done, what small shops have done to change the industry and how it’s impacted Disney.
So… how can you use this for your own small business?
What we really want to get at here is that you as a small business owner: can you think about things that you’ve created for yourselves and how you can market that to other people? Because a lot of these products from these Etsy shops really stemmed out of someone who really wanted this for themselves and then realized that there were other people in that predicament too. So for an example, there is a travel planner out there named Magical Miranda, who makes a planner specific to Disney. So it’s got all the different dates in there that you should know about. Like Mickey’s not so scary Halloween party is coming up and after hours events and all sorts of things like that, that is something that you probably thought you needed when you were planning a Disney trip and couldn’t find anywhere. And now she makes an annual planner.
So that way you can buy it and you can use it as a regular planner and just get a little bit of a Disney fied feeling to your day, make a magical day for yourself. But you can also use it to plan those trips that you are going to plan. So that exists because she needed it for herself or for her clients because she a travel agent and then she put that out there for everyone else. So what do you have in your business that you use all the time that you think is so simple and basic, and everyone must do this and how can you get that out to people?
What is uniquely yours?
It’s funny, there are tools and systems that we use every single day that we kind of take for granted. And sometimes it takes someone else just being like, Whoa, that’s a really cool process to understand the potential that exists there because here’s the thing, not everyone works the way that you work. Not everyone thinks the way that you think. So you always have something of value to share. I think it’s just a matter of looking at your business and finding out what’s that thing that’s uniquely yours. It could be inspired by someone else’s system, but format it in a way that works for you. I mean, that’s what all of these small shops have done. It doesn’t have to be a hundred percent original. It just needs your take on it. So we really encourage you to look at your business and find what those opportunities are. In fact, our amazing friend, Christina Scalera, who you may know from our intro is all about finding ways to create digital products in your service-based business so you can bring in passive income. She has a ton of great resources on how you can start to find out what those opportunities are in your business and how to go about creating digital products that you can actually sell. Check out our episode where we talked all about copyrights:
We also want to encourage you to think about that white space in your industry. What do you have and what can you provide to people who you may not even know that they need?
You could be sitting on a goldmine and you don’t even know it.