Today is November 1st, and also the day that you can buy Carl the Snowman for the 2019 holiday season! If you haven’t heard of Carl before, he is the brainchild of Kate Weiser of Kate Weiser Chocolate. He’s a chocolate snowman with a belly full of drinking chocolate mix and marshmallows. He even has his own Instagram account, but he gets lots of attention on Kate’s Instagram account too!
As I’m sure you can imagine, shipping Carl is no easy task. In February of 2017, Kate wrote a blog post for us about the challenges of packaging and shipping Carl. If you missed that blog post, you can read it here.
In 2018, Carl the Snowman was included in Oprah’s Favorite Things List. This was no surprise to us, since he’s just so darn cute and the perfect gift.
We asked Kate if she would write a blog post about how changes in producing and shipping Carl, the Oprah phenomenon and what is in store for Carl’s 2019 holiday season. As usual, Kate was happy to share her knowledge, and gave us a wealth of information about all that she’s learned.
1) Has the process for making Carl changed?
The process for actually making Carl has drastically changed this year. We purchased equipment at the tail end of last year that we are all super excited to use in Carl production for the first time. One is a mold spinning machine with custom Carl the Snowman spinner molds that attach to this machine via magnets. This machine has revolutionized the process – making 8 complete snowmen at one time instead of making half a snowman by hand one by one and gluing them together later. Overall it was a $35,000 investment.
2) Has Carl’s packaging changed this year?
3) We know that shipping Carl the Snowman is a big challenge – what changes have you made to shipping this year?
4) Oprah named Carl the Snowman one of her Favorite Things for 2018. How did that impact production and shipping for the holiday season last year?
Oprah’s Favorite Things list was a wild ride last year. I had no idea what to expect so I just went full steam ahead, increasing bonbon production by x 3 and increasing Carl production by x 5. We thought that traffic would drive all of our products up in sales, but the reality was that mostly just our Carl the Snowman sales were affected. Needless to say, we had A LOT of bonbons leftover after Christmas. I also went into panic mode when it came to hiring. I doubled my staff – DOUBLED! There were nearly 50 seasonal employees at one time on top of my regular 35-40 staffers. It was an intense burst of growth. There were days where it took 20 people in a huge shipping assembly line just to get all of the packages out the door for the day!
I expected the level of sales to continue growing moving forward but I learned that after Christmas was over, we pretty much went back down to a normal level of sales. We ended up being able to sell off all our extra product during Valentine’s Day, so thankfully we did not have any waste, but it was a very close call.
5) Carl was also sold on Amazon during the last holiday season – was that in response to the Oprah phenomenon? Will you be sell Carl on Amazon this holiday season?
To make Oprah’s list, you are required to sell on Amazon. Oprah has partnered with Amazon to provide customers a super easy way to shop the entire list in one go. It was a new portal that we had to learn and it was someone’s full time job during that time. Overall I had a good experience with Amazon – we drop-shipped all the Amazon orders out of our facility to better protect Carl. We sold about 8,000 Carls through Amazon last year during Christmas and there were a few times that we sold out during the process. We plan on using Amazon again as a place to sell our products, but don’t expect nearly that same turn out since we will not be on the list this year.
All in all, this silly little snowman takes up the majority of my brain for the majority of the year. My hope for Carl is that we continue to make improvements every year by increasing efficiency so we can get more Carls out into the world each holiday season. Carl the Snowman has been my biggest love (and my biggest headache), the best learning experience and my favorite challenge these past 5 years.
We want to say a huge thank you to Kate for so generously sharing her knowledge about producing and shipping her beloved Carl. If you haven’t had a chance to read the first blog post, be sure to read it! You’ll see how far Carl has evolved in short amount of time. We wish Kate and her team the very best for another successful Carl season!