Designer Toy Maker Pop Mart Announces Investment in Social Media Darling M Woods Museum
On Aug. 31, M Woods Art completed a new round of financing from Pop Mart, the trend-setting designer toy chain that is about to go public in Hong Kong. Founded by Chinese social media personality Lei Wanying (Wanwan) and her husband collector Lin Han in 2014, M Woods Art now operates two M Woods museums and affiliated cultural events in Beijing.
Lin Han, co-founder of M Woods said the new round of financing will allow the two parties to jointly power the consumption upgrade of China’s popular art scene, while facilitating communication between Chinese and global artists. Previously, M Woods received Round A funding from Huaxing Growth Capital and Qianhai FOF. According to Chinese corporate database Qcc.com, Pop Mart is now the largest shareholder of M Woods besides Lin Han with a 10% share.
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This is the first time for Pop Mart to make an outbound investment. Started as a retail chain focused on creative consumer products, Pop Mart has experienced rapid growth since 2017 as it shifted to a designer toy seller with its own copyrighted characters. The company now boasts more than over 150 direct-sale stores and 825 toy vending machines in 57 Chinese cities, according to the company’s prospectus. On Aug. 7, Pop Mart opened its first pop-up store in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, officially entering the Japanese market.
Known for its instagrammable spots and social media influence among the youth community, M Woods has always embraced commercial marketing and popular approaches. In 2019, M Woods launched its first M Woods Art Community in Longfusi, Beijing, which is an integrated art themed space that hosts multiple popular consumption brands including Japanese coffee chain %Arabica, Vietnamese restaurant Susu and M Woods affiliated night club Gui. “Compared with traditional art galleries, a community formed around art can integrate art into lifestyle to generate more income, and is more capable of incubating new brands, widening consumption choices and facilitating cultural and artistic exchanges,” said Lin.
M Woods exhibitions to date have ranged from work by Andy Warhol to David Hockney in collaboration with British art museum Tate. The two parties are also expected to jointly host cultural events, art workshops as well as pop art products. Zachariah Zhou, experimental artist and founder of Simulacra Studio, told Pandaily that brands like M Woods and Pop Mart are likely to cultivate the habit of popular art consumption among Chinese audiences. “Both parties rely on consumption from the mass public, so the cooperation makes sense in that it combines the two already overlapping audience groups to maximize influence.”