If you think that dolls are traditional things of the past, think again. MakieLab, a U.K based startup company launched an app called “Makies Doll Factory” last week that allows users to design their very own unique dolls. You can choose the hairstyle, facial features and custom clothing for the doll and have it 3D printed. The doll will be delivered to you. The price of a custom made doll starts around 59 pounds ($88) excluding shipping.
The startup is trying to change the industry by using 3D printing technology to build for order, which allows them to bypass traditional retail channels and ship directly to consumers. Since there is no “master mold” they can also offer a large number of customization that traditional vendors cannot. It has been running a web-based version of the store for about a year. This is its first foray into a mobile platform.
“People love the fact that these toys are on demand,” said co-founder Alice Taylor. “Because the child or adult has made the toy themselves, they’ve got a precious relationship with it. The doll has a heirloom aspect to it.”
MakieLab managed to raise USD1.4 million from seed investors last year and is working hard to bring the manufacturing costs of the dolls down. During its early times, a doll costs around 99 pounds ($148), now the most basic doll without hair costs 59 pounds.
“This is a journey we’re on,” Taylor said. “The material costs are quite high with the type of plastic we have.” MakieLab has printers in the U.K. and Amsterdam and ship globally. Right now, about 10 percent of sales are coming from the U.S. and the majority of people who order a physical doll also buy accessories as well.
“Eventually, we’ll expand it to be like a distributed manufacturing network, rather than having a centralized factory model,” she said. Finding printers has been a “trial-by-fire” effort, she said. “But we’re getting a ton of support. The suppliers and manufacturers want to see this happen.”