Here at Honey’s Anime, we love interviewing industry players, and this time we’re sitting down with one of the three individuals behind one of the most well-known merch companies in the United States. We’re talking about Justin Anyanwu from Boomslank, the go-to destination for anime enthusiasts seeking one-of-a-kind, original merch.
Perhaps you’ve seen their booth at a recent convention, spent a considerable amount of time searching for the perfect phone case on their website, or maybe you’re about to discover them and fall in love with their cool designs. In any case, keep reading to learn more about the life of a merch creator, a man who turned his love for anime into a successful family business!
Interview with Justin Anyanwu from Boomslank
For those who aren’t familiar with Boomslank, could you give us a quick introduction about yourselves and share a bit about what you do?
My brothers and I grew up watching anime in the late ’90s and early 2000s. It stuck with us. My younger brother used his love for anime to hone his artistic skills. I got the opportunity to observe his growth and realized there was an opportunity for us to create something big with his skills. At the time, we noticed that brands back then were only selling merchandise adorned with licensed material. We were looking to do something different. We were looking to create a brand that appealed to anime, but at the same time brought something original to the table.
Your incredible website has gradually expanded over the past few years, now offering more than just cell phone cases—including apparel, banners, and various other items. What have been your favorite products to create and why?
We recently released hoodies and bomber jackets. And I have to say our bomber jackets are by far our favorite products. Our Zodiac line hoodies are quite popular as well. Our fans are quite taken with them. We’re hoping to release more of both of them; we only just started doing those. We’re hoping to get the logistics properly dialed in moving forward.
We’ve visited numerous of your vendors at various conventions. Are you experiencing success as you expand your merchandise to larger events like Comic Con and similar ones?
We hope to participate in Comic Con someday. In the meantime, we’ve been attending other conventions such as Anime Expo, DragonCon, and Animazement (which is conveniently located in our backyard here in NC). Conventions are extremely successful for us, and we’re actually hoping to figure out a way to scale up our convention operations. The conventions allow us to meet our fans face to face, chat them up, and also make sales!
The minute folks hit your page, they can see that you’re majorly into mecha anime, especially the Gundam series. What’s the story behind your love for these anime and the call to make them the core of your business?
The first anime series we watched and instantly fell in love with was Gundam Wing—I think it really defined anime for us. It was our first introduction to the Gundam series and, to be honest, it was the first time we saw giant robots designed quite beautifully in cartoons. It made a deep impression on us, and you can see it has inspired a large number of our designs. Mechs represent the combination of our fascination with cool weaponry, human ingenuity, and artistic expression.
Could you give us a quick rundown of the creation process, starting from the initial drafts to the point where the final product is ready for sale?
Typically, it starts with David’s inspiration, usually in the form of a scene in his mind—a snippet of a story he hopes to flesh out some day. He sketches this “scene” on paper, and the rough sketch will then be scanned and converted to line art on his tablet. It takes roughly a month or more to complete the art and color in the details. Once the art is done, he shares it with the rest of us for feedback. If there are no further suggestions for improvement, we then reach out to our manufacturer to create the product the design was meant for. In the meantime, we tease the product to our fans via social media and email blasts. Depending on the product it should be ready in about a month or two.
Would you like to, one day, collaborate with anime and manga creators to offer licensed products, or do you find joy in coming up with your own designs?
That would be a great honor for my brother David, our artist. Being able to work with someone like Makoto Shinkai would probably put him over the moon. I can’t imagine a greater honor for him.
Out of all the products you offer, are there any specific designs that stand out as favorites for you guys? If so, could you tell us why those designs hold a special place for you?
Did you ever anticipate that Boomslank would experience the level of growth it has, and were you prepared for this expansion?
Actually, yes! Interestingly enough, we still have a long way to go. My brothers and I are super focused on growing the brand, so we leverage third party fulfillment services to handle shipping out our orders since the volume has gone up significantly. This allows us to focus on content, designs, and partnership opportunities.
Can you share any sneak peeks into what you have in store for the next few months/years?
We are now promoting a new hoodie that just came out on the 8th of September. Here’s the video about it!
Before we wrap up the interview, do you have any messages for our readers and your fans?
Just want to say thank you for taking the time to read about us. And to our fans, thank you for your constant support. And we hope to continue creating merchandise you love.