What it means to be a toy designer is something that many people don't grasp, yet.
"So cool! You have your own brand! What is it that you do?"
(Interlocutor keeps smiling big for a few seconds, processing the information. Contrasting images of a MacBook Pro, a Barbie, Legos, cross each other in her/his brain at lighting speed. Sudden realization she/he still hasn't said anything, but this is something supposedly cool. Smile deflates, shifts posture to gain time) "..... Oh. I see."
At this point, the interlocutor can A. abruptly change topic because she/he won't venture in unknown territory. "But hey, so, you live in Holland ...". Or B. politely ask a more specific question, "nice, what kind of toys?", while secretly hoping it will be over soon and she/he can go back talking about something we both know about.
What is the difficulty with explaining what are designer toys?
It isn't just smalltalk. It is something more serious than it sounds, and might bore people to death. You have to be smart to keep their attention. Try balancing a pub stool on your nose while talking.
Vocabulary. I've been making toys for a couple of years, so my friends and family more or less all know that designer toys are art pieces, collectable limited edition figures made by an artist. But the term "designer toys", or, even more proper "urban vinyl", throws most people into confusion. Once I tried a different approach and told a good friend that I make "toys, but not for kids, for an adult public". Since then he keeps asking "how's it going with your sex toy company?".
Technical knowledge. Many of my friends don't know how plastic things are made at all. It is difficult to grasp the idea that we can create figures that look like cartoons and are made of resin, completely by ourselves, in our living room. There are simply too many steps in the process, and most people have fragmentary knowledge about at least one of them. Once someone -with the best intentions- asks, "how do you do this?" she/he needs to hear about, among others, 3D modeling softwares, renderings, 3D printing, resins and silicons, plasticine, molding and casting, sanding, laser cutting, silkscreen printing, website programming, and so forth. Conversation inevitably starts loosing friction, at which point, see options A. and B. above.
Priorities. A toy designer is an artist, and as such, a professional figure. She/he is also investing every single cent she/he makes and is working every waking hour (usually more than 12 a day) while people point at her/him saying, "look! The job of everyone's dreams! Doing stuff you love and becoming rich without effort!" Usually, who says things like this doesn't think much. And people who don't think don't listen. Hopeless situation.
The point is, until you are KAWS, you probably need another job to keep paying your rent. And people tend to loose interest in what you do if you can't even tell them the secrets of becoming rich.
I love designer toys because they are the cutest three-dimensional expression of creativity. Dreams, ideas and feelings that take shape in awesome little creatures.
Have you ever tried to introduce your sidejob/passion to friends? How did it go?