‘Duckingnice’ founder hosts workshop on launching art ventures

Kelly Contreras

Baruch College’s Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship hosted Duckingnice Founder Tiffany Wu to discuss how students can launch businesses with their art in a workshop with MakerHub.     

The center’s MakerHub program hosted the Baruch senior’s workshop, titled “Turning Your Digital Art into a Business Idea.” The workshop allowed Wu to explain how she created her brand and to give tips on how students can pursue similar ventures.

Wu studies entrepreneurship, which is a major she said is typically known to have students that “have started their own small business.”

“What’s your business?” many of Wu’s peers would ask her. At the time she did not have one to share, thus motivating her to create her own business.

At 7 years old, Wu had a passion for the arts and continues to practice “professional” art. In August 2021, Wu began experimenting with what kind of business to start and her various ideas narrowed down to drawing ducks.

“Art is subjective; we’re all surrounded by art in our everyday lives,” Wu said. “Like packaging that you see, backpacks, clothing — even the clothing you’re wearing today was designed and modeled by somebody, a designer artist. Knowing that art exists all around you shows that there’s opportunity everywhere that you go.”

Wu said she chose to draw ducks because the bird was easy for her and a flexible mascot to illustrate in various scenarios. The name “Duckingnice” came easily to her, adding that it was catchy and simple.           

With this in mind, Wu began to test her sample drawings on a real audience. College students are her target market, so she introduced her ducks to her friends via social media for over two weeks and took note of the feedback she received in order to make a desirable product. 

Investing $3,000 into her business, Wu designed her first prototype of a hoodie with a duck lifting weights, inspired by a user’s “gym bros” suggestion.

“Customers do not know what they want until you show them,” Wu said.

The student launched her first line of products in September 2021. But in order to have sales running, she needed to find a marketing outlet. Through her friends, who have sizable followings on TikTok, Duckingnice was able to reach customers and make sales, but she acknowledged that this is not a solid marketing foundation for everyone.     

For future entrepreneurs looking to launch their own businesses, Wu said to make sure the logo and website look legitimate before introducing products to a large platform. She recommends Adobe Illustrator for mockups and technical details. Procreate or Adobe Photoshop are also great resources she used to begin with. 

Quality is an important factor in producing clothing, but Wu noted that finding a consistent manufacturer remains to be difficult for her.

When she started out and was looking into local manufacturers in Brooklyn, Wu evaluated which other brands worked with the company, shopped around for pricing and paid close attention to the quality while keeping sustainability in mind. She used the same strategy to find a reliable embroidery shop. 

Reflecting back on how she maintains her small business, she learned three key lessons.

One piece of advice is to test the target audience.

A second piece of advice is to avoid doing the work alone, thus one should learn how to digitize. Wu said this is important so that entrepreneurs do not burn out early in their journey. Doing work alone may also lead to accidents or the product not reaching its potential.

Lastly, Wu said to keep reinvesting extra profits into the business since there wouldn’t be enough money to splurge on oneself.

“Just knowing that there’s so much options for you, it definitely opens your eyes up,” Wu said.