About Lottie Dolls
Lottie Dolls was first launched in August 2012 after MD and co-founder Ian Harkin spotted a gap in the market for “a wholesome doll”. 18 months was spent researching this product (Lottie) speaking with child psychologists, mums and kids groups etc. to find out what was best for children.
Unlike other doll products on the market, Lottie is based on nine-year-old children with a focus on childhood adventures and empowerment.
“By basing the Lottie doll on a nine year old child we are able to avoid adult related narratives and instead focus on being a child, getting outdoors, building a den, getting muddy, using their imagination and having fun,” said Harkin.
At the beginning, without a marketing budget, Arklu have relied on word of mouth alone, the dolls themselves have been extremely well received by the toy industry having received prestigious international toy industry awards to date in the USA UK and Canada awards, including 5 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Awards.
Major international press coverage in The Guardian, New York Times, Forbes Magazine, The Daily Mail, Sydney Morning Herald amongst many others has propelled Lottie now into over 30+ countries and 3000+ stores within 3 years. Sticking to their core values and putting children first, “letting children be children” is paying off for the company.
Amanda de Cadenet, TV presenter of Lifetime’s “The Conversation” reviews Lottie Dolls:
“At a time when even young children are worrying about weight, shape and diet, and girls are getting the message it’s all about looks, we need to rethink dolls. Dolls that are shaped like real girls, of the same age as the child and doing active, varied and non-stereotyped activities, will create a very different kind of play, and free up the options girls and boys unconsciously adopt as their own. Yay for Lottie!”
There is currently a boy doll in the range called Finn, and the company is extending the brand in 2017 to be known as Lottie, Finn and Friends. Late 2017 will also, see the extension and diversification of the product line into dens, farms, stables and many more innovative ‘Lottie’ play accessories. There will be new characters introduced to reinforce the company’s gender-balanced values, and to more accurately represent an ethnically diverse marketplace.
At the moment, there are 24 different available dolls, with about 12 outfits, and around six play sets to choose from. By the end of 2017 there will be an additional 20 new products.
A unique aspect of the firm’s design strategy is that they allow several their dolls to be designed by kids. One Lottie doll in particular (Stargazer Lottie), designed by a little girl called Abigail, is special as she got to spend 264 days aboard the International Space Station with ESA Astronaut Tim Peake during the Principia mission. ‘Stargazer’ was aboard the ISS when it was launched to space in December 2015, and returned to Earth in August of this year. The Special Edition ‘Gold Collection’ ‘Stargazer’ Lottie doll is a collaboration with the European Space Agency, and winner of the space.com ‘Little Scientist’ Space Age Award at the New York Toy Fair 2015.
The company employs two full time graphic designers, and have received positive feedback for the unique and innovative branding on marketing/display material used at events and on retailers display units. The bright and colourful Lottie doll packaging has been specifically designed with the aim of lessening the use of excessive plastic blister packaging. Each doll box is themed in relation to the individual dolls characters and designed with a cute handle to encourage reuse and doll portability.
Children can engage with the brand by participation in the many educational and creative activities that are hosted on the website. In addition, there is monthly competitions for children where they can design their own outfits for Lottie and Finn!
Milestones that Arklu have achieved in the last 12 months include major partnerships with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. A book publishing partnership deal with Penguin. Two books will be published, one a fiction title for young readers, and one a sticker dressing-up book, which will be focused on stargazing and space. A further two titles, one fiction and one activity book, will then follow in September 2017.
Last year, Arklu was named the winner of the Google Adopt a Start-up 2016 Spring Programme following a dragon’s den style final held in the Foundry at Google’s EMEA headquarters in Dublin.
Arklu employs 10 people in its Donegal HQ, and hopes to double that number in the coming year.
Selection of the Dolls in the Lottie, Finn and Fri...