Posted by Heather O'Neil on April 04, 2013 0 Comments
Filed under: children's artwork • children's drawings • Happy Doodles blog • kids' artwork • kids' drawings •
Check out this great feature from the New York Times - the editor chooses a colorful current event, and kids are invited to illustrate it. Fabulous! For more, click here.
Posted by Heather O'Neil on February 19, 2013 0 Comments
Filed under: birthday gifts • children's artwork • Christmas gifts • Custom Plush Doll • Custom Stuffed Animal • Easter gifts • Happy Doodles in the news • Kids' artwork • kids' drawings • Turn Drawing into doll • Turn picture into stuffed animal •
Somehow, I don't think Mattel is worried about Happy Doodles, but nice article on TheStreet.com.
The Digital Skeptic: Moms Have an Ugly Toy Story for Ken and Barbie
By Jonathan Blum 02/05/13 - 08:00 AM EST
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Heather O'Neil, Pat Graves and Tracy Vaninger are three moms with one scary bedtime story to tell big toy companies.
"The DIY trend kind of helped us," O'Neil told my assistant Alex a few months back. O'Neil is the owner of Happy Doodles, a Needham, Mass.-based on-demand stuffed toy company. "It got people thinking in terms of custom things not having to cost millions of dollars."
This mother and entrepreneur, who has absolutely zero engineering or manufacturing background, has reinvented herself as a high-tech toy innovator. By cleverly kludging together off-the-shelf digital design and fabrication systems, O'Neil is becoming a next-gen child's toymaker.
With toys starting at $25, she does something giants including Mattel (MAT_), Hasbro (HAS_) and LeapFrog (LF_) tend not to: make a reasonable dollar turning your child's doodles into a ridiculously cute, fully stuffed, plush toy.
And she is just one of many successful high-tech toy elves. Though the three did not disclose sales, all said business was steadily growing.
"It's definitely an Internet thing," says Graves, who runs Omaha, Neb.-based My Own Cuddly, one of many just such on-demand, small-fab toymakers Alex and I found. "It's all just done out of a room in my house."
It might be easy to dismiss "moms with CAD" as no threat to star kids' brands such as Barbie, Hot Wheels or Star Wars. But in these digital times, that would be like dismissing blogging as no threat to newspapers. It turns out that these innovators sit on a leading edge of a shift in the toy, kids and youth media market -- away from established companies.
"I'm a businesswoman, so whenever I see something my mind always goes to, 'How can we develop a business around that?'" said Vaninger, yet another owner/mom who presides at on-demand plush doll fab shop Sunny Little Studio in St. Louis.
Which means, friends, just as toy giants report optimistic performance and gather for their yearly Toy Fair confab, the toy business is beginning to slog through the same value-crushing digital disruption suffered by publishing, music and financial services.
An ugly toy story
For starters, research is confirming what any parent will tell you: Kids are living in a strange new digital content age where established brands are less important.
"American families see tablets as playmate, teacher and baby sitter," said a 2012 report from New York-based Nielsen. And this portable kids portal is essentially defined by the gobs of cheap content cash-strapped Internet companies are pouring into it.
In late 2012, Amazon (AMZN_) rolled out the Kindle FreeTime Unlimited, an all-you-can-eat kids tablet content buffet of mainline brands such as Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow, Nickelodeon and dozens more. All starting at just $3 a month -- a fraction of what cable or satellite TV charges for the same stuff.
This value-crushing wave in Kid's brands is further amplified by a new generation of youth-oriented digital entertainment options that -- get ready for this -- have no brands at all. The killer app is the addictive gaming environment called Minecraft, from Sweden's Mojang. This mostly self-provisioning virtual gaming platform opens most of the process of creating interactive experiences to the 40 million or so Minecraft-loving kids and young people who play it.
"We knew too well that if the Betty Ford Clinic opened a Minecraft wing, our son could be first on the list if we didn't stage our own intervention," wrote Pam Melyan-Bratton, a blogger on NJ.com, a large, mostly local content media service.
Toy company = Publishing 2.0
Toy giants are reacting as similarly threatened movie, publishing and music companies did a decade ago. They are rushing to new technological platforms and brands without truly considering the cost, long odds and low margins they face in new markets.
Mattel announced last week just such a new global game, cartoon and interactive franchise called Max Steel.
"The multiplatform action-adventure entertainment franchise will also introduce a dynamic Web destination, featuring rich content, including interactive gameplay ... action figures, vehicles, role play items and a diverse line of consumer products," the company news release said.
For sure, Max is kinda cool. I really do like the cartoon. But in the collapsing digital age, Max and Mattel must compete against the likes of Spider-Man, The Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga and Harry Potter, to name a few.
And all that, in turn, is under siege from a new generation of personal 3-D manufacturing options from companies such as MakerBot, Stratasys Systems and Desktop Factory. The new so-called 3D Cloud Printing Engine from France's Sculpteo, for example, allows any mom to build an intricately designed piece of plastic -- in other words, a toy -- for just a few bucks. And parents can even get paid for their trouble. The company is sponsoring something called the Made in 3D Challenge, in which winning designers can win an iPad.
All of which makes our toymaker moms queens of the next-gen toybox.
"It's kind of an interesting time, the shift between marketing giant products and an appreciation for locally made things," is how O'Neil explained it to us.
Considering the Chinese consider it a curse to live in "interesting times," Barbie, Ken and the entire toy business may be soon considering new career options.
Posted by Heather O'Neil on December 21, 2012 0 Comments
Filed under: children's artwork • Christmas gifts • Custom Plush Doll • Custom Stuffed Animal • Examples • Happy Doodles • Happy Doodles Gift Certificate • Holiday gifts • Kids' artwork • kids' drawings • stocking stuffers • Turn picture into stuffed animal •
Whoops - we've been so busy with holiday orders that we almost forgot to mention that Happy Doodles was featured in the December issue of Parent Guide News. Check it out!
Posted by Heather O'Neil on December 13, 2012 0 Comments
Filed under: children's artwork • Christmas gifts • Custom Plush Doll • Custom Stuffed Animal • Happy Doodles • kids art • Kids' artwork • kids' drawings • reviews • Turn Drawing into doll • Turn picture into stuffed animal •
Thanks, Mama's Bacon, for the kind words!
Product Review: Custom Stuffed Animal (Doodlers+)
Celebrate Your Child’s Creativity! Turn Your Child’s Drawing Into A Huggable Friend!
My mom hung around a lot of creative people and some of it rubbed off on me as much as I could let it. My first stuffed animal’s clothes were crocheted and my mom was always making something out of felt or construction paper and ribbons. I usually (happily) got roped into most of her projects and liked to help out. The one thing my mom is really good at doing is drawing. We always had art supplies around and my mom would actually do art work backdrops for things like the local plays at school. Yes, she was really good and was always making or drawing something interesting. One day I came home around my freshman year of high school and almost screamed when I saw what looked like a man sitting crouched over our couch like he was dying. My mom, seeing my distress, shrugged her shoulders and said that was just ‘Herky’, a character she made for some sort of play or show or something like that….it was just a normal thing in my house. While it pained my dad that I started painting murals on my walls starting in 6th grade (he certainly had fun covering them up when I left home), I think my mom was somewhat proud I could make a decent underwater scene out of four walls. She encouraged pudding finger painting and whipped cream designs. In fact, the first time I saw the Happy Doodles Custom Stuffed Animals, I knew it would thrill my mom that (while her sewing and quilting did not rub off on me) Brooke could have a doll made out of her own artwork. Wow. Just WOW.
Happy Doodles was created by creative genius and sewing extraordinaire, Heather O’Neil, who takes your child’s ‘happy doodles’ and makes them huggable. You must check out her Gallery of Smiles to get a full appreciation of her effort. It is truly inspiring. If any of her work looks familiar, you will probably recognize it from your own child’s sweet doodles. So how does it work exactly? Well, it’s pretty simple once your child picks out a picture they love and want Heather to create their own customized stuffed animal!
- Get Your Child’s Art Work to Heather! The easiest way is to scan your artwork and e-mail. You can also take a photo of it, and upload it when checking out the site. Heather asks that you scan and take the highest picture resolution that you can so she can get the Stuffed Animal as close to the real thing as possible. You can also mail the picture to her, and she will take good care of it and return it with the Happy Doodle.
- How big is a Happy Doodle?
A large Happy Doodle is approximately 18” in its bigger dimension, either length or width, and about 4” thick. A medium Happy Doodle is about 12″ long or wide, and 3″ thick. You can also purchase the smaller key chains, backpack decorations and ornaments that are about 4″ high or wide, and 1/2″ thick. Remember, Happy Doodles are made in the shape of the character that your child draws so they can be of irregular shape and size. Prices vary depending on size and type!
- What is in a Happy Doodle?
The artwork is digitally printed on soft cotton. The printing does not change the soft feel of the fabric. Happy Doodles are backed with incredibly soft fleece, and stuffed with polyester fiberfill.
Check it out! Here is Brooke’s ‘Before’ picture and the ‘After’ Happy Doodle Custom Stuffed Animal created by Heather that Brooke has dubbed ‘Happy Jack’ (Jack is one of her friends). My photo skills really do not do her custom stuffed animal justice, but I do hope it comes through at how special it is for us and for Brooke. Highly recommended for your budding artist!
List Price: $ 25.00 – $ 60.00 (Depending on customization)
Posted by Heather O'Neil on December 12, 2012 0 Comments
Filed under: children's artwork • Christmas gifts • Custom Plush Doll • Custom Stuffed Animal • Happy Doodles Gift Certificate • Holiday gifts • Kids' artwork • kids' drawings • Turn Drawing into doll • Turn picture into stuffed animal •
Does your child have a favorite piece of art or an imaginary friend she's constantly drawing? Bring her character to life as a plush toy. Happy Doodles is a service that creates one-of-a-kind stuffed animals based on your child's artwork. The site is still taking last-minute holiday orders through Dec. 1. After that, a gift certificate is the perfect option to let your child choose her doodle or create a new one specifically for the plush. Prices range from $25 to $60. happydoodles.com
Posted by Heather O'Neil on November 21, 2012 0 Comments
Filed under: birthday gifts • children's artwork • Christmas gifts • Custom Plush Doll • Custom Stuffed Animal • Happy Doodles • Holiday gifts • Kids' artwork • kids' drawings • stocking stuffers • Turn Drawing into doll • Turn picture into stuffed animal •
Thank you, Let's Go on a Picnic, for the nice review and picture of Meow in his new home!
Posted by Heather O'Neil on November 17, 2012 0 Comments
Filed under: children's artwork • Christmas gifts • Creations • Custom Plush Doll • Custom Stuffed Animal • Happy Doodles • kids art • Kids' artwork • kids' drawings • reviews • Turn Drawing into doll • Turn picture into stuffed animal •
Check this one out!
Eli's mom made a Happy Doodle of his picture of a pregnant mom and family. Mom assumed that it was a picture of her. No, instead it's a picture of the future - Eli's sister, pregnant with future nephew Zachary, with himself and his brother as uncles. Awesome! Check out his mom's facebook page and blog too!
Posted by Heather O'Neil on November 16, 2012 0 Comments
Filed under: Christmas gifts • Holiday gifts • kids art • Kids' artwork • kids' drawings • stocking stuffers •
Tikiri with Happy Doodles of Tikiri!
Posted by Heather O'Neil on November 08, 2012 0 Comments
Filed under: Christmas gifts • Holiday gifts • kids art • Kids' artwork • kids' drawings • stocking stuffers •
Happy Doodles elves are busy, busy, busy turning kids' artwork into stuffed toys in time for the holidays.
Please place your orders now if you need them for Christmas or Hanukkah. Happy Doodles gift certificates make great gifts and stocking stuffers!