Her drawing of a red and blue, four-legged "pig-like" creation named Dongler became the first-ever Budsie. But it wasn't an easy process. Without the economies of scale or relationships with factories, it took about three months and a few hundred dollars to produce the one-off creation.
To expand production and increase its speed to market, Furmansky — who had a background in finance and technology — invested $25,000 of his savings into the company. A few months later, he received an undisclosed amount in funding from San Francisco-based venture capital firm MHS Capital.
He said that enabled him to take a longer-term view for the company's growth.
The first step on that journey was expanding the brand's product mix. Whereas Budsies began as a way to transform a child's artwork into a plush toy, it recently expanded into "selfie" dolls. In many cases, Furmansky said, these creations have taken on a deeper meaning than the unicorns and "Frozen"-inspired drawings it brings to life.
For example, if a child's father or mother is serving in the military, the family can commission a doll that looks like that parent. That way, the child can give their parent a hug, even while they're apart.
"That's a really beautiful use case," Furmansky said.
Since launching in July, selfies have grown to account for a quarter of Budsies' sales.
Budsies once again broadened its reach when it launched arts and crafts creativity kits earlier this month. It's also teamed up with Gap Kids on in-store gift cards, and will announce an upcoming partnership will Celebrity Cruises next month. Then, early next year, the company will start producing "Petsies."
"It's super cute to do for a pet that's living and you love, but at the same time we're also getting a lot of inquiries from people whose pets have passed away," Furmansky said.