Every so often I'll be interviewing my friends and highlighting what makes them so great! This week, meet Renee and Josh, the husband & wife duo that is ROBO ROKU!
Hi Renee and Josh! Wonderful to have you as our first featured interview on depressedmonsters.com! Can you tell us a little about yourselves and your wonderful company, Robo Roku?
Hi Ryan! Great to chat with you! We call Robo Roku a "Comfort Cuteness Lifestyle Brand". We draw "Cute AF art" with the mission of giving people a character or design that brings them comfort through any emotion or feeling they are having. We believe you should honor all your emotions and feelings, as long as you're not oppressing anyone. Renée comes up with the characters and designs and Josh creates and finalizes our art in Illustrator. We are both artists at heart; Josh with a background in comics and graphic design, and Renée with a background in traditional art.
You're based out of Austin, TX which is/was one of my favorite cities in the world. How do you feel about the way the city is changing and growing?
We hate it. HA! We're big geeks and love tech, so it's a mixed bag for us. Many of the top tech companies are moving here and pricing out the musicians, artists, and mom and pop restaurants, all the things that made Austin special and fun. The majority of our creative friends don't live in Austin anymore. It's hard for musicians and artists to afford living here, most have moved to smaller towns on the outskirts of the city. Austin is on track to be the next SF, but without as much cultural diversity and nice weather. It's hot here, but I guess not as hot as Vegas.
We met during COVID times through livestream shopping on an app called Popshop Live. How do you feel about livestream shopping and what has it added to your business?
Popshop Live (PSL) saved us. In 2020 I lost my event marketing job of five years, and Josh's work was reduced to maybe eight days a month. At first we were alright by sending a newsletter out every week, but we needed more income. I had seen my friends BB-Crea8 doing Popshop Live in the summer, and being a tech geek, I knew it was the next big thing and I wanted in. We applied in September 2020, and did our first live show that month. We literally recreated an 8x8' wall space in our living room with booth walls from when we did in-person shows and started streaming on Popshop Live. It was a huge leap for me personally, since I don't even like having my photo taken. But I felt in my gut we had to get in early. So I sucked it up, and we did our best. Thankfully the Popshop Live community was so kind and welcoming. They made me relax while streaming and gave wonderful encouragement. Chris R. is someone I'll never forget. They made me feel like they were holding my hand through it all. We've tried other platforms, but Popshop Live is the best, and our home. We do two-three shows a week and PSL viewers really push us to create more every week. We released over 101 pin designs on PSL last year. Which may not be a lot for some, but that was huge to us. I ended up making double my marketing job income on PSL, so there's no turning back now.
Do you think livestream shopping has potential to stick around after COVID has eased up or do you think it's a product of the times we're living in?
We think livestream shopping will continue to grow, and we hope to continue to grow with it and Popshop Live.
What products are you most excited about releasing this year?
Vinyl Toys! We've been doing DesignerCon since 2013, back when it was in Pasadena, CA. DesignerCon is a show we hope to always do, and releasing our own vinyl toy figures there is a dream we still need to check off.
What's it like running a small business as a husband/wife duo? Do you guys every turn off and just watch a movie or is the business taking over dinner time conversations?
It works well for us, because if there's something I can't do, Josh can do it, and vice versa. Plus we make each other laugh all the time, so we don't tire of each other. I would love to talk business all day/every day, which is where my best friend Jupey comes in. Josh and I take breaks to watch movies and Star Wars/Marvel shows a few nights a week. I still often work on my phone during that time and we have to rewind scenes. Oops!
What's your favorite pop culture fandom?
Pick only one?! As a business, Sanrio, they're our inspiration. Personally, Josh chooses Lord of the Rings, and I choose Doctor Who, but we both could talk endlessly about LOTR, DW, Star Wars, and the MCU.
If you could tell your younger self/selves something, what would it be?
I would tell my younger self to journal everyday. Josh would tell his younger self not to worry so much about the little things, it all works out.
What's been the most exciting part of running Robo Roku?