$25. The price of a CMYK set. How did I come up with that figure? I asked myself what I was willing to pay for a partial Topre modifier kit. $25. For that price, you got 7 caps (4X 1.5u, 2X Shift and a matching 1u). Factoring in time spent/supplies/packaging/Paypal fees, I was already losing money. Bear in mind, this doesn’t factor in errors/unviable keycaps.
But I set that price and I would follow through. I was unsure of myself. This would be my first launch of blanks. They were “beta” because I hadn’t quite worked out what would be considered “up-to-standards”. In hindsight, the 1.5u’s were worth more. Shifts… not so much. 1u’s were close but needed work.
Demand was strong. I sold out within the first hour. Emails/PMs flooded in. I took everything I learned from Meowcaps and applied it to this sale. Backup molds, check. Functional Google order forms, check. Items stored in my Paypal invoices. I was ready. I was not ready.
Fit issues, mismatched colors, misalignment. They were all there. I ended up absorbing the losses. Replacements were sent out. I dug deeper. Threw in more money to continue the sale. The reasoning was that there was no price for credibility. Reputation was priceless. I would cut a path for KeyKollectiv even if it made me broke.
Koala-T looked on as I pushed harder. I woke up at 6:30AM to do a cast before work. I stayed up until 1AM to finish production. It took it’s toll on me. Dear readers, are you seeing a pattern? She was convinced I was a masochist. I called it determination.
CMYKeys Beta came and went. Some of my molds were still viable. A few people in the community reached out and asked if I would do a few custom colors. I agreed reluctantly. I didn’t want the money. I wanted a break. While working on some custom modifiers, I experimented with some colors that I would love to see on my own boards. They would soon become Bianchi Green, Shallow Mallow, Pink Elephant, Triumphant Teal, Anniversary Blue and Oxblood.
Koala-T and I own Bianchi bikes so the name made sense. Shallow Mallow was inspired by DustinHXC’s love of purple. Pink Elephant was a brainchild of Koala-T. Triumphant Teal was a tribute to Triumph Adler as Anniversary Blue, a tribute to RF’s 10th Year color scheme. Oxblood was an experimental color. I loved the deep rouge colors but how the edges seemed semi-transparent. The lady pushed me to release it just to see if anyone would like it. She was right.
I was proud of the colors so I teased them on forums. Community members started to take notice of my work at that point and reached out. “You should make these”. “When will you release and how much?” Had I learned my lesson from CMYKeys? We know the answer at this point.
$48. The price of a KeyKollectiv HHKB Modifier Kit. Once again, I asked myself what I thought it was worth. Once again, I would end up kicking myself for not thinking things through. All the things that went wrong with CMYKeys carried over to the modifier kits. Except this time, the stakes were much higher. More caps, more money.
Needless to say, morale was at an all-time low. I swore to Koala-T that I would take a long hiatus when this sale was over. She agreed that if I continued, I would burn myself out. When it was all said and done, I finally sat down and crunched the numbers. I was astounded by the sheer money that I had lost to this sale. The money I set aside for property taxes dwindled away. Bills piled up. I couldn’t believe I let my pride/stubbornness bury me.
In my darkest hours, a beacon of hope approached. I was starting to get messages from people I admired. Artisans I looked up to. They told me I was brave. The mod release was an ambitious undertaking. KeyKollectiv was so isolated up until that point. We never reached out to them. We felt that respect was to be earned– that our work would eventually speak for itself.
Along the way, we made a lot of friends. Koala-T and I didn’t want to lose sight that KeyKollectiv was established with the community in mind. Up until that point, our bank account balance could have attested to this concept. Among the supporters was LivingSpeedBump. A person whom I would be happy to call a dear friend.