A SQUISHABLE REMINDER OF YOUTH
By: Annie Yu
There is one unmissable thing in Carter Kench’s bedroom: a mountain of 430 Squishmallows. It’s stacked so high it almost touches the ceiling. Carter Kench isn’t a Squishmallow-crazed child—he’s a 20-year-old in Los Angeles who works as a full-time content creator. Most of his videos are “Squish hunts,” where he runs to several stores to buy a certain Squishmallow. How did he get here?
The Squishmallow product line started five years ago with designer Sunny Cho at KellyToy. Her boss wanted her to come up with designs for a stretchy fabric. Cho began her designs, and eventually ended up with the first 12 Squishmallows. Cho is now the Senior Director of Product Design.
The first “squad” was released in 2017 and mainly marketed towards children. Squishmallows instantly became popular, but there were limitations to mass-manufacturing.
Then mass toy manufacturer Jazwares acquired KellyToy, and Cho can now walk into most convenience stores and see her designs. The feeling, she says, is “just incredible”.
During the pandemic, though, business really took off. Children found that Squishmallows soothed their high levels of stress, and parents didn’t mind picking the toy up due to its low pricing.
“There’s a real comfort in squishing them,” agrees toy expert and consultant Chris Byrne.
There’s one thing that sets the toy apart: their attraction among adults.
“It brings joy,” explains Nancy Ferrell, 31, who was gifted a few Squishmallows when she was recovering from surgery.