Matcha Cafe Maiko Canada was celebrating their 3rd year anniversary on May 7th, 2022, and it was an absolute privilege to be invited to join in on their birthday festivities!
Since Puglie's main love is food, we of course dressed him up in Matcha Cafe Maiko's signature treats - the Matcha Vanilla Swirl Parfait, and the limited time Matcha Lava Cake!
After creating these illustrations, we used them for posters, social media posts, and stickers for sale in store and in goodie bags at the event.
Matcha Cafe Maiko reached out to a good handful of Vancouver foodies to market the anniversary event, tons of people were getting excited for the day, and oh boy, was I getting nervous! EXCITED! BUT NERVOUS!
Euge, why were you nervous?! 😱
Okay, detour story time - see, my previous experience doing a pop-up shop at a food business was Rad Tea Room back in 2017, and subsequently 2018 because 2017's event blew everyone's expectations out of the water!
Truly, I'll never forget the image of mid-day Saturday, witnessing a line up curve out the bubble tea shop, and seeing the owner and her husband run in to put on an apron and help their staff behind the counter. I was told at the end of the event that one of her employees came to the pop up to shop and chill, only to see her coworkers being swarmed and decided to hop back and help 🤣
BUT I was accompanied by another friend and amazing fellow artist - Art By Tuna
So I figured like, yeah, our powers combined would bring in a decent amount of people! At the very least, I have a friend to just hang out with!
This time, I'll be alone, in a corner, representing the one and only artist at this event - ME. 💀💦💦💦
Okay, back to me being nervous about Matcha Cafe Maiko!
I was so worried, like, well, this is Matcha Cafe Maiko's birthday! Everyone coming out will be for them, so what if the crowd is just around to wait for their delicious treats, and no one really cares about Puglie? 😭
I honestly always have these thoughts LOL. No matter how many amazing experiences I've had, or how many events I've done, it's always a worry because I don't want to be arrogant in thinking I'll be popular, but I also don't want to self-manifest bad times! AHHHH!
But at some point, I'm like - OKAY! No matter what, I'll have fun! It'll be a cool new experience! I'll take it in stride! 💪
I sent invites out too to some local pug meet up friends - Tuck Tuck Pug and Miss Olive - to see if they'd be interested in having a small meet up at the park next to the cafe while their humans can get some tasty matcha desserts. I figured, at the very least, I'LL GET TO SEE PUGS.
The cafe owners asked me how long I'd like the pop up to be, and I figured 2pm - 5pm was a good chunk of time. I can't imagine that many people wanting to shop my Puglie Mart, and perhaps after 5pm I could go play with pugs hehehehe~
O boi. Was I wrong.
It's the day of the event, 12pm. I drive up to the cafe to unload my 4' table, my stand up banner, and luggages of merch. I have 2 hours to set up, and I needed every minute!
There was already a line forming around the outside of the store, and nerves were setting in. All the Matcha Cafe Maiko staff were all-hands-on-deck, super organized, moving efficiently to get every detail done, and here I was in a corner, knees weak, mom's pasghetti 🍝
I have to admit, this was my first time setting up my table in front of an audience - all the people on the other side of the glass waiting to enter 👀💦 I test build my booth beforehand so my set ups are as efficient as possible, and even then, I was sweatin'. When it all came together, I was so happy! This was also my first time debuting my new and improved display that made the Puglie Mart feel MORE like a lil convenience store :3
It was 2pm, Matcha Cafe Maiko owners did final check on all their employees, asked me if I was ready, and then it began. The doors were open.
I can't even believe what happened that day.
The moment the doors opened, the first two people in line turned straight to me. It turns out they were fans, and they came to this event just for me 🥺. I truly couldn’t believe it, and I felt so bad not saying hi to them, or anyone in line for that matter, as I was passing by! But I didn’t want to be saying hi to people and have them wondering, “Why is this rando saying hi to me???” LOL
From that moment on, it was non-stop rush of hype, energy, and joy! The cafe had to limit capacity, and I heard people waiting up to 3 hours to enter throughout the day 😱 The event was so inspiring and uplifting! A handful of fans came just for my pop-up, a lot of people got to meet Puglie for the first time with so much delight on their faces, and my pug meet up friends came too for a quick hi! I felt really bad though because I didn't expect such a line up, so I thought they'd be able to get ice cream ez pz 😭 I'm glad they had a chill little meet up regardless, and the cafe owners let them in briefly to say hi to me, and I got my pug fix hehehe!
That initial end time for 5pm? I ended up staying until 8pm! I had a fan tell me how worried they were that I’d be packing up at 5pm while they were still stuck in line, and they were so happy I stayed. I was overjoyed by the love, and I told them I could never leave if there was still such a line up! I wouldn’t want anyone to feel left out! By 8pm though, the line was finally hitting its end, Matcha Cafe Maiko was sold out of a lot of their menu, and I hadn’t eaten, sat, nor used the washroom since the morning so I figured it's about time I pack up and be human again 😅
The outpouring of love for Puglie and I that day is consistently something I never expect (I should really do better at believing in myself aha). This event is extra special to me though for three reasons:
1. It's local
2. It's not an anime or comic con
3. It's a local business
Don't get me wrong! I LOVE travelling to other places and sharing Puglie with people all over the world! I love anime and comic conventions, and other small businesses outside of my city!
But to see Puglie be supported by people from my hometown, people who wouldn't usually go to pop culture events, it really, really, means a lot 😭💖💖💖
On top of all that, one of my visions with Puglie is to collaborate with, and in turn support, local businesses! So to have one also believe in such an out-of-the-box idea of a cartoon pug with their food really makes me excited for the future!
Here's hoping this isn't the last event I'll have with Matcha Cafe Maiko Canada :3
But until then, we've got these highlights to look back on such an eventful, endearing day!