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. At age 36 as of 2010, Sanrio has groomed 'Hello Kitty' into a global marketing phenomenon worth $5 billion a year.