Early in 2014, MagicBands were still very new and you could only get solid colors at the time. There were very few options for customizing, maybe two shops I could find selling anything related to MagicBands, and the rest was DIY. I wanted to decorate my family’s MagicBands for our Disney vacation, planned for the first week of June. There were a lot of guests painting their MagicBands with nail polish or applying temporary tattoos, both of which I knew would inevitably chip and peel. I’m pretty crafty, so I intended to go the DIY route, but I wanted something that looked clean and professional as well.
The market was fresh and new and waiting to be explored. I just didn’t know yet that I would be the one exploring … and becoming a trailblazer too!
At the time, I had a successful shop on Etsy selling original artwork for kids, such as art prints, personalized name or birth date prints, illustrated alphabet cards, canvas growth charts, and a matching line of childrens fabric on Spoonflower. I was also doing a fair amount of freelance work, including work for World Label, mostly cute printable stuff for crafters and small businesses. With all of this experience, I already knew a great deal about printable media. I initially thought to do a printable sticker for our MagicBands. I illustrated a few designs for our bands and posted a picture to my personal Instagram account, with a few Disney-related hashtags. My Instagram exploded overnight. People were begging for me to make and sell them decals for their MagicBands. I thought, “Okay, I could have something here. Time to do some serious research!”
Other previous design work: lots of logo and branding design with a focus on other small creative businesses, a successful Etsy shop featuring a line of artwork and accessories for children’s rooms and nurseries, fabric & textile design, blog and website design, and a brief stunt designing a user interface for an indie PC game that never got off the ground, but it was a fun experience. I was also once an administrator and then owner of a large message board community for gaming art.
All in, feet-first.
After deciding to pursue this MagicBand decal thing, I spent the next several weeks exploring my options and developing a game plan. In May, I took a leap of faith and bought a domain name, and I created the My Fantasy Bands profile on Instagram so my personal account would stop blowing up! My husband thought I was crazy, but I felt like opportunity was knocking, and I was going to answer the door!
I talked to the owner of World Label about what kind of decals I should use. It quickly became clear that a home-printable option wasn’t going to withstand the wear and tear of a Disney vacation, but he steered me in the right direction. I went on the hunt for a vinyl decal printer that would do a small print run. Most business I contacted online wouldn’t do small orders. I received samples from a few, but the quality wasn’t what I needed it to be.
As our vacation loomed closer, our MagicBands came in the mail, and I finally found a local business that printed a batch of waterproof vinyl decals for my family to wear at Disney. They were expensive, but they looked good. I had extra decals made to take with us to Disney, and gave them to people we met there. Our decals held up pretty well during our trip. After a full week of sun, rain, swimming, and park hopping fun, they still looked good! The vinyl hadn’t peeled at all, the colors hadn’t faded. There were a few areas where the ink had gotten scratched, but I knew I could figure out a solution for that.
Tenacity and success!
When we returned home from vacation, I started emailing and calling print shops far and wide. The small local print shop did a nice job with the decals, but their pricing was too high, and the decals weren’t perfect. Durability and print quality were extremely important to me. I found out I needed the decals to be laminated to protect the printed design from scratching, and also from fading over long periods of use. I ended up getting samples from about a dozen different companies before choosing one. I was over the moon happy when that first bulk order came in the mail. The quality was exactly what I wanted!
My Fantasy Bands launched on June 24, 2014. I had just 10 designs when I opened shop.
Now it’s 2017 and I’m approaching my third anniversary! My Fantasy Bands is growing by leaps and bounds, and has become a household name in the Walt Disney World community. I’ve met Cast Members and made friends with many other Disney fans, I’ve sponsored podcasts and blogs, helped highlight and promote other small businesses, and even had a chance to work on a project with a former Disney Imagineer! It’s been an exciting and rewarding journey. There have been more than a few bumps along the way, but those bumps have helped me learn and grow, both as a person and as a business owner. I haven’t looked back or regretted a single minute of it.
I have the most incredible customers, many of whom I have come to consider friends and a part of my Disney Family. I’m deeply grateful for the customers who have become my friends, and the ones who cheer me on and encourage me every day.
Here’s hoping that in two more years I’m still facing new challenges and triumphs every day!