- When did you begin to make content for Instagram and what was the reason?
I started Teddy's Instagram account back in 2017, back when he was only a several months old. Before Teddy, I used to foster cats and kittens from local rescue groups in the Bay Area. I ended up posting too many photos of foster cats and kittens on my personal Instagram account, to the point of annoying some of my friends (who don't necessarily love cats haha…). So, when Teddy joined us in 2017, I still wanted to make sure I documented his life through photos—just like a digital photo album—but I wanted to make sure it’s not mixed with my personal account. That’s when the @teddythefold account was born.
Around the time he turned one year old, Teddy started showing raw talent for doing tricks. I remember one day, I wanted to feed him some treats, and Teddy started waving his paw up in the air, trying to grab the treats. It looked a lot like he was giving a high five (which later became his favorite trick). I decided to buy a pet clicker and started practicing the high five trick with Teddy. That’s when I learned that he’s one smart kitty. He learned most new tricks so quickly, and now he’s able to jump through a hoop and ring a service bell!
We made a short video of Teddy doing the high five, and some popular cat accounts on Instagram and news outlets noticed it. That's how we gained thousands of new followers, and Teddy's Instagram shifted from just an online photo album to actually finding ways to create fun and engaging content to the followers.
- What is the concept behind your work and what do you want to share with your followers?
Ideally, we want to create this persona that Teddy is an actual “person” who handles his own Instagram account. That's why you rarely see humans in his pictures or videos. Troy sometimes makes appearances here and there, but only if Teddy allows him (Teddy is a diva after all)!
Most other cat/dog accounts that are similar to ours, they prefer to do partnerships with affiliate or promo codes. We try to avoid that with Teddy's account, and focus it more on creating the most eye-catching content/photos with our partner's products. This is exactly what we’re trying to do with the Yamazaki Home products too. We want you to look an item, and see it through the cats’ eyes, and utilize them differently (for example, it’s a wastebasket for humans, but it’s somewhat of a noise-cancelling sleeping pod for cats). My background is in digital design, so this part of the process is so exciting to me. It feels like it’s also a more effective way to promote a brand and a product, as opposed to just sharing codes for people to use. When people go on Instagram, they want to see photos, so we want to show them fun photos!
- How did Teddy become involved in home decor?
2019 was the first year we started working with brands, and we're so lucky to partner with amazing pet-oriented brands that we had already used beforehand. In December of 2019, the humans behind Teddy The Fold (there are three of us) discussed our goals for the Teddy The Fold brand in 2020. I remember saying I wanted to take the partnerships beyond just pet products. Pet products are great—but we also wanted to work with other brands. I specifically pointed out: “indoor plants, furniture brands, and other things, like mattress or electronics brands”. From there, we started looking into different brands in those areas.
I first came across the Yamazaki Home brand from Amazon, while we're looking for a spice rack. Later on, I found out that we had at least 5 other Yamazaki Home products at our apartment. Each of our sinks have the self-draining soap dish, for example. I love the minimalism approach and the subtle colors of the Yamazaki Home's products, so I decided to reach out and propose a partnership with our cats.
Our goal with the Yamazaki Home partnership is to showcase the versatility of the products we picked together. I mentioned this a little bit before too, with the wastebaskets. Another example, for us humans, this is a nice side table, but did you know it could also be a cat tree or a place for a cat to eat?
- What is Teddy or Troy’s favorite toy to play with? Which product of Yamazaki’s did they like the most?
Teddy’s and Troy's favorite toy is (unfortunately) the wire of my cheap earphones! This is something I learned while working from home. I used to think earphones just break easily. In reality, Teddy and Troy like to drag my earphones during the day, and play with them as if they’re yarns. They also love to hide the earphones, so sometimes I have to spend time looking for them first before meetings.
The other thing that's a fun fact is that both Teddy and Troy actually can fetch—but they would only fetch certain things (not everything, like some dogs). Teddy has this blue fish toy that he fetches when we toss it; Troy prefers a white fuzzy ball that he found somewhere. These two toys look so destroyed, but they love them.
For the cats, their favorite Yamazaki product is without a doubt, the wastebasket! We have two of those, so each of them have their own to relax inside. We can't even use them as actual wastebaskets, because the cats always want to hide in them. The other thing that they love is the pantry canister—because that's where we put their favorite dried treats. Teddy could be in another room, but when he heard the flapping sound from the canister, he’d run outside to get the treats. It’s like a bat signal for him!
- What is your favorite item that you’ve received from Yamazaki Home and how do you use it/ what do you use it for?
- For me, the human, I LOVE the Sliding Couch End Table. As a matter of fact, I'm actually typing this while using the end table. It has been one of the most used pieces of furniture during the 2020 quarantine. The other thing that I really like is the business card holder. We have the yellow one. Instead of business cards, I attach two small photos of Teddy and Troy instead.