Hello Kitty is a fictional character produced by the Japanese company Sanrio, first designed by Yuko Shimizu. She is portrayed as a female white Japanese bobtail cat with a red bow. The character’s first appearance on an item, a vinyl coin purse, was introduced in Japan in 1974 and brought to the United States in 1976. The character is a staple of the kawaii segment of Japanese popular culture. The Hello Kitty trademark has spread globally; Sanrio earned over $1 billion annually in sales outside of Japan, as of 2003.