Jelly Key flourished for the first time in March 2016, when the Jelly Clan encountered their first mechanical keyboard. A trusty Tenkeyless.
How we started
We were enlightened at the thought of how easily you could customize a mechanical keyboard.
The ease of pulling out keycaps and replacing it with a novelty cap inspired us the most. We looked through and used many other boards, then finally, came across the many online keyboard communities. We encountered the many exceptionally talented artisan keycap creators that moved our hearts with their creative, iconic, and influential keycaps.
Back to the basics
Jelly Key created their first keycap, Starry Night. It was introduced in the Vietnamese Mechanical Keyboard Community, which sold out 90 units exclusively within Vietnam. It was sold for around $20 at that time with the packaging composing of a zip-lock bag and a cheap box to to accommodate the keycap. This was our first step.
After realising that we wanted to go further, we decided to jump ahead and improve the quality and nature of our product. This was done step by step. We became aware of how the Jelly Key artisans should be taken care of, since it’s a handmade product fashioned by a human with thought put in with each and every process when the keycap is created. An artisan keycap created by an artisan.
The Jelly Key wooden box was then developed and put into shape
We got plenty of positive feedback from this, so we experimented with different combinations of materials and designs. Even though we had upsides to this matter, we had a huge loss in financial terms - however, people finally appreciated what we were doing.
From what we learned with creating Starry Night, we thought that we should strive to do better, and be more creative - enough to be able to put the whole universe inside a single keycap.
Though, the universe is gigantic. There are too many elements to a universe, which would be difficult to package into a single keycap, so we introduced the Nebula series, which had four keycaps. Each artisan has something special inside of them. Diamonds, crystals, and quartz.
There’s always a story behind each and every keycap we create. Our aim is for our product photographs to deliver our intended message.
Jelly Key Gem collection (6 keycaps)
At that time, we were honoured to be introduced by u/ripster55 into r/mk. We received plenty of positive feedback, which motivated us to put more effort into making a keycap that people can appreciate like art on their keyboard. There were also people in the community that created keycaps that were inspired by us. We were grateful for even having our name mentioned in the discussions. Thank you for putting butterflies in our stomachs!
But - there were setbacks. We have to innovate our current ideas, to be more creative, to give our keycaps that ‘Wow’ factor, whilst being affordable.
Producing handmade artisans are more difficult with increased quantity. Jelly Key artists were only a team of 3 at that time, so we needed more helping hands for our first Massdrop product, The First Frontier artisan SA spacebar.
The Initial Launch
Jelly Key is a small team based locally in Vietnam. The team usually works locally, so we were curious to how we should bring out products to the mechanical keyboard communities around the world.
To reach the further community, we cooperated with Massdrop to launch First Frontier which was inspired from the endless journey to explore the infinite, never ending universe.
The cost to produce this spacebar was pretty high, and it was expensive to produce a wooden box for the space bar. With the cost aside, we focused on making the best keycap on par with the lowest possible price for it. We wanted to focus on delivering the best experience to the mechanical keyboard community.
The most challenging keycap series we have done are the Flag series. This is because it’s like playing a puzzle with many small, fiddly parts, and shoving that into a 1U keycap. Each component needs to be precisely positioned in the right place and angles, according to the design scheme, or else it wouldn’t look like a flag at all 🙁
The American and United Kingdom flag were the hardest to make out of them all. We made 5 keycaps, and only get 1 decent, quality-check-passing artisan. The Flag series is limited to only 15 of each design due to the lack of manpower and time.
Thinking outside the mesosphere
We want to adapt different techniques from other field when making new artisans. Design quality and visual appeal is a priority for Jelly Key. Our goal is to create an artisan that is unconventional and unexpected, even if it consumes plenty of our time and budget.
We try new things by experimenting with different materials, and purchasing different tools to test that idea. We will obviously fail at the first few tries, so we have to keep on going until we can create a decent prototype. After a couple prototypes, we then create the final product.
Since our products are handcrafted, the outcome is different and vary from keycap to keycap.
Here’s our ratio:
- With our Fusion keycap, 2:1 (for every 2 keycaps, 1 keycap turns out well)
- American Flag 5:1
- Lava 2.7:1
If the keycap doesn’t meet our expectations, we eliminate it by putting it in our storage, and analysing what we would do to improve the next keycap.
If the shoe fits
Not all Cherry MX stems are made the same, many of these switch stems vary, so the fit of the keycap may differ. We don't prefer keycap stems that fit loosely, so we measure our keycaps to fit our switches with the right size. Unfortunately, we did not realise that the stem sizes were inconsistent from switch to switch. As this is an artisan, it should be taken care of, and so should one take our keycaps off with a technique with the proper use of a keycap puller.
Most of the stem damage occurs with the improper use of forces when a Jelly Key is taken off the switch. Please make sure the board is sturdy, and that the keycap puller is parallel to the keycap.
With the right care, we ensure that your Jelly Key artisan will last a long time.
If your delivered keycap is not up to our standards, we will replace one, for one.
We also ask for your fairness. Please do not resell or trade a damaged Jelly Key, and then spread the blame. Kindly return it to us and we will compensate you. It will just upset many more, and it will cost us both.
There are bad rumours about Jelly Key that keeps on spreading, even if the gossiper hasn't had experience with Jelly Key at all. This is toxic, both for us, and the whole community. Let's not fuel any unnecessary drama.
We are located in Vietnam, so we carry a global shipping fee for every single keycap. Our aim it so optimize the shipping costs for our customers.
When Jelly Key started out, the shipping cost for each keycap was $11 USD, without a tracking number. But soon we realised that the shipping is too high in comparison to the price of the artisan. We explored more about different couriers, and thus, we were able to bring down our shipping to $6 for each keycap, and that includes tracking.
Our packaging ensures that the artisan is safe throughout the many kilometres it will travel.
We only had one person to do all the support tasks, from updating Facebook content, website articles, checking orders, replying to emails, checking shipping, answer support queries, etcetera etcetera. We were severely understaffed. Don’t worry though, we recently adopted a good little angel to help us out on those matters, and we try our best to respond to queries as soon as possible.
We also made a chatbot to entertain you when you send us a message on our Facebook page. It’s pretty silly, but it’s trying its best to help you out.
The feedback and suggestions of our customers are very precious to us, that’s why we produced the wrist rest, which was a suggestion of the many supporters from the community. Many of our keycap designs were inspired by you as well. It’s the team effort that the community contributes to that helps make great ideas into an awesome Jelly Key product.
However, we are still understaffed so we really appreciate your patience. Make sure to send your feedback or complaints through our email as a top priority, since it is the fastest and more organised way for us to follow through your request. firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’ve known us long enough, you can see that we have changed our website layouts and contents aplenty, according to our customer’s feedback (I know, I know, we will *try* to keep our website a bit longer this time =D).
For our current layout, we hope to bring the customer to read our articles first, since we want our customer to experience Jelly Key in its whole.
Plenty skip to the product, which is understandable! We do create products, but we also write up content that we hope our customers will take time to read, since there are many false devaluations of our name, and it causes a butterfly effect which impacts us negatively.
We are exerting our best efforts to improve, we really are. Please wait for us. We want to make you happy.
Jelly Key, as you know by now, mostly makes artisan keycaps. Recently we started to branch out with a new and different product, which is our Navigator of Sea wrist rest. We are hoping to bring innovation and new ideas to the mechanical keyboard community, because we love the art and possibilities that you can do with a keyboard. Our hope for the future is to continue making more products for the community, such as cases, sleeves, keysets, whatever mechanical keyboard related accessory there is.
Jelly Key Charity Fund
There are humans that live in this earth (In the billions!). Many people are in unfortunate situations where they can’t eat, or are unable to drink water. There are those who are sick, and those who don’t have a family, and there are those who are all of the above.
It’s as simple as giving back to the people, those who have, and those who will bring more joy into the lives of others. We will continue to give.
Jelly charity fund currently donate to:
We hope to support more in the future.
We make artisans, we are handmade.
And people will ask, ‘Why would you pay ~40$ for a keycap?’.
That answer is simple. And this answer applies to many other artisan keycaps out there as well. Our keycaps are made for an audience, mostly consisting of Mechanical Keyboard Hobbyists/Enthusiasts. There are artists who appreciate our (artisan creator’s) work, and even regular people who think our (artisan creator’s) work are cool.
I have no idea where the first term of artisan came out when in relation to unconventional keycaps of mechanical keyboards, but then again, there’s no need. It’s verbatim. Art is in the word artisan - got it? And of course, art is very subjective, or objective. Depends on the person. But we all know art is human effort. For us, art is the work of our artists, our team who exert their efforts in creating an artisan keycap. The handmade aspect is also crucial.
Would you compare the values of a massproduced-plasticmouldinjection-machinemade keycap set to a single artisan which had effort taken by a real human, to create from start to finish? And imagine, hundreds of these being made as well. Humans, need to eat and drink too! We are not as cool as robots who only need oil and electricity, and mostly automated.
Think ‘supporting a local business’ in comparison to ‘Corporate Industries™ © ® ‘.
We would like to thank our supporters who stood beside us in our journey. We love you so much.
- Reddit Community
- Geekhack Community
- VNMK (Vietnam Mechanical Keyboard Group)
- International supporters (kbdlab)
- Instagram supporters
- Mechanical Keyboard Enthusiasts
- Non-mechanical keyboard Enthusiasts
- Our family all around the world.
Thank you for supporting us from day one.
Thank you for taking your time to read this article! I know it’s a lot of trouble, but we really appreciate the extra effort people take to know more about us.
We would like to giveaway our newest creation, which was given great recognition from the community! (4000 upvotes on reddit!?! Thank you!) - our Oasis Keycap
We will do this giveaway in a raffle style. You can either enter the raffle for free, or you can purchase a ticket to donate for a good cause. A ticket purchase increases your chance by 1, compared to entering for free.
There is a maximum of 3 tickets per person.
As we stated above, we want to unite with the Mechanical Keyboard Community, to make this world a better place for all of us. Let’s join our fingers together (while we clack) with this raffle.