American Made Since 2006

Shawn Smith

Chicago, Illinois
Shawnimals is a design studio that believes creativity should be participatory, affordable, and joyful. We make amazing toys, games, and friends.

Tell us about your business.

Shawnimals is the Chicago-based design studio founded by husband-and-wife team Shawn Smith and Jen Brody around 2002. In the near decade since Shawnimals' inception they have received international recognition for their unique designs and character-based products they've spawned. Beginning with a handful of simple yet endearing handmade plush toys, based on designs from Smith's own sketchbooks, Shawnimals has blossomed into a full-fledged company making significant contributions to the world of designer toys and beyond. Nearly 500 characters have emerged from the studio, all uniquely inspired by Smith's lifelong love of pop-culture. The colorful assortment of characters - some resemble food, others inspired by everyday items, and still others that are based solely on imagination - have been produced as diverse products: plush toys, comics, video games, lifestyle accessories & more. Simple in design with a sense of humor, Shawnimals captures the imaginations of both young and old alike.

What makes your business stand out?

We've always reacted naturally to business growth, due to our focus on a creative bottom-line rather than solely on a financial one. By allowing this kind of evolution, we understand our creativity better, and the end result of it in the form of our products, not to mention our beloved fans and customers. While we've worked with companies via licenses that have produced product in factories, we've always maintained our Shawnimals Handmade line wherein we create truly handmade products. Walking this line between semi-mainstream products, and incredibly limited, artist-made works makes Shawnimals very unique. We're proud of this fact!

What's the best business advice you've received?

Know your size. It's tempting to grow and grow and grow. But for what? Comparing yourself to multi-million dollar companies is a slippery, dangerous slope. Know your size, and make decisions accordingly.

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Mark Your Calendar

    Oct. 17, 2014

    2014 Award Winner and Audience Choice Winner announced.

    See past Award Winners
    Nov. 7, 2014

    Join Martha at the American Made Summit kickoff cocktail party.

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    Nov. 8, 2014

    Don’t miss our networking event and maker lecture series in New York City.

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    Nov. 15 - 16, 2014

    Shop for holiday gifts at the Martha Stewart American Made Pavilion.

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