A chat with Stefan Cohen and Tia Chinai!
Entertainment surrounding the music industry varies from live concerts, collectibles, and now: hip-hop-inspired toys. Krool Toys, which comprises of Stefan Cohen and Tia Chinai, are rising above the waters with something fairly new. The manufacture produces anything from puzzle sets, action figures, album-themed Gameboys, and much more. Since starting their journey a bit ago, Krool Toys has worked with and gained recognition labels like Cinematic Music Group, 300 Entertainment, and YSL Records to name a few.
In our recent chat, I spoke with Krool Toys about their journey in the industry, working with various artists, and their goals for the forthcoming year. Check it out below!
So for anyone unaware of the brand, what is Krool Toys?
Krool Toys is a creative studio where we try to bring people back to their childhood combining nostalgic items like Gameboys, Puzzles, Guitar Hero, and Action Figures with modern-day music culture. We create handmade one-of one-pieces as well as small runs for different artists to give away or sell to their fans.
The story behind the brand is quite interesting as well, talk about how Krool Toys initially came to light and what were some of the challenges you all faced?
S: Definitely. So Krool Toys was started by me (Stefan Cohen) and Tia Chinai. We both have experience in music, Tia with graphic design, and me with marketing. We started off making these toys as just a side project for us basing them around artists we love and have worked with which eventually led to artists and record labels reaching out for collaborations. There's definitely a learning curve to working in a physical medium and tinkering with such old hardware but everyone has been super supportive so it just motivates us to keep raising the bar.
The first piece you all actually made was for Cinematic Music Group's R&B star Luh Kel, how did that happen?
T: We wanted to come up with an alternative merch item that was creative and lent itself well to his overall campaign. Stef initially came up with the idea of Mood Rings and we tried many ways to make it ourselves from using industrial printers to hand cutting. After much experimentation, we were able to create a great package and realized doing it by hand ourselves was the easiest and most rewarding process.
Since then, you all have worked with several of Cinematic's artist and gained the attention of YSL Records and 300 Entertainment. Down the line, who are some artists you'd love to work with?
S: For me growing up on Odd Future it's a dream of mine to work on something for Tyler, The Creator. His creativity and ability to work in so many different mediums is a huge inspiration to me.
T: Growing up in Bombay, I've been surrounded by a wide range of movies, music & culture that mirrors my colorful crazy city. My style definitely reflects that & I would love to make toys that represent my culture. Artists like Prabh Deep and Lifafa are favorites that I would love to collaborate with as well as Bollywood in general.
In terms of the end goal, what are some short-term and long-term goals you all have set aside?
S: Right now we're just getting ready to launch our website with all of our Season 1 Toys and Merch since a lot of people have been commenting and messaging trying to buy some of them. Down the line, I think we'd just want to continue to collaborate with more artists and brands bringing new ideas to life.
Looking back on all the work you've guys done, what was the most fun piece you worked on together?
T: For me, the most fun we've had throughout this process has been looking through shelves at tiny toy stores in manhattan or rummaging through thrift stores looking for toys that inspire us. Coming up with ideas for artists we love & listen to all the time is definitely most rewarding.
For anyone looking help along the journey, what are some ways fans alike can support Krool Toys?
Just to keep liking and sharing our content and when we're ready to do our first drop showing support so we can continue to make stuff.