If you’ve attended a San Francisco Giants game this season, you probably already know that Giants infielder Pablo Sandoval isn’t the only (Kung Fu) Panda roaming around the City. Populating the San Francisco Bay Area are hundreds upon hundreds of fluffy panda head hats, complete with black plush noses, pom-poms, and ear flaps worn by Giants fans of all ages and ethnicities.
What most fans of the new National League Western Division champs may not realize is that the adorable hats they sport are supplied by electrician-by-day Wesley Wong and Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning technician Jon Wong (no relation), co-owners of the The Head Panda.
The idea to market and sell the cute and fluffy headgear came in January this year after Wesley paid a visit to Beijing, China. While standing at the entrance of the Forbidden Palace in the harsh winter cold, Wesley bought himself a panda hat from a nearby street vendor to keep warm.
“I thought we could bring it here to the States and make it work here,” says Wesley. “So after I came back we ordered a few and sold them on Facebook.”
Wesley called in the help of his equally business-savvy friend Jon Wong. Together with an initial stock of approximately a hundred panda hats, they managed to sell sixty of them through the social networking site in the span of a week. Wesley and Jon immediately knew they were on to something.
Soon thereafter, the two formed The Head Panda and decided to expand their business across the Bay Area. During the San Francisco Giants’ home opener in April, the two set up shop near the Third Street Bridge across from AT&T Park. Hoping to capitalize on some Kung Fu Panda supporters, the pair arrived with 170 panda hats in hand at 11:00 am for a 1:05 pm first pitch. They sold out by 12:45 pm.
Jon and Wesley set up shop at almost every home game thereafter, until the Giants organization caught wind of it and peacefully requested them to leave. They are now one of two official suppliers of panda hats to the Giants. The two have admittedly done quite well for themselves.
“We’ve constantly have people coming up to us and saying ‘You guys are geniuses,’” says Wesley, “We’ve gotten everyone from kids to adults to grandparents to wear our hats. They love our product and tell us that we’ve got the best quality panda hats out there.”
Jon and Wesley have continuously sold out their hats at the events they’ve been invited to. At the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival in April, working together with San Francisco based Invisible Stripes shirt boutique, the two were the most popular booth there, with pandas everywhere. They also sold over 400 hats at the Asian Street Heritage Celebration in May.
The Head Panda’s products have gone on to sell in retail outlets such as Crazy Hats and the NFL Pro Shop on Pier 39, the Stonestown Galleria in The City, Serramonte Mall in Daly City, and the Shops at Tanforan in San Bruno just to name a few, and they have added few other animals—fox, bunny, sheep, lion, husky, tiger, and bears to their list. Since their debut in March, they have launched their official website where one can buy a plush friend of their own anytime.
With their expansion, the two have also begun to have their brand recognized outside of Giants games. A few weeks ago, Jon sported a henna tattoo of the company’s logo on his arm. while sitting in class at City College of San Francisco. A classmate recognized the logo from a panda hat she bought at a Giants game.
“I told her I was the co-founder of the company that produces the hat,” says Jon. “It’s great that we’re finally getting recognized.”
The Head Panda’s products are available at many retail outlets and malls across the Bay Area. To purchase their hats and paws online, visit their website at www.TheHeadPanda.com. The company also keeps an official Twitter at www.Twitter.com/TheHeadPanda, as well as a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TheHeadPanda.
As an appreciation to Asianweek.com readers, The Head Panda is offering a 15% discount off all orders until the end of October. The special promo code is AsianWeek.