What a wonderfully productive week! First, I manage to score some awesome drawings from one of my closest friends 4-year-old Ben. We had so many to chose from, that, once I posted them to my teams slack channel, we had to select them by giving each one of us three votes, represented by adding a reaction. The clear winner was “the pilot”, described by Ben as “A police helicopter pilot named Benjamin”:

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The second choice was a tie between 4 drawings. However, Sophie, who is one of our creepy doll makers chose this little spider with no backstory:

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A perfect addition for our Halloween collection. Kat will be making Benjamin the Pilot.

On Monday we had a fantastic session with Donna Cleveland in the textile labs, sorting through textile waste that we can use for our prototypes and learning how to use the felt looms:

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Felting is the perfect process for making our plushies, as it allows us to replicate the child’s drawings almost to the tee (although with our lack of experience, it may be a little bit off for the prototypes, but we’ll try our best). Also, the soft fuzzy texture is exactly the sort of material that will bring comfort to children.

As Sophie’s research found, the emotional-behavioural benefits of play include:
• Play reduces fear, anxiety, stress, irritability
• Creates joy, intimacy, self-esteem and
mastery not based on other’s loss of
esteem
• Improves emotional flexibility and
openness
• Increases calmness, resilience and
adaptability and ability to deal with surprise
and change
• Play can heal emotional pain.

Social benefits of play:
• Increases empathy, compassion,
and sharing
• Creates options and choices
• Models relationships based on inclusion
rather than exclusion
• Improves nonverbal skills
• Increases attention and attachment

Physical benefits:
• Positive emotions increase the efficiency
of immune, endocrine, and cardiovascular
systems
• Decreases stress, fatigue, injury, and
depression
• Increases range of motion, agility,
coordination, balance, flexibility, and fine
and gross motor exploration

For adults, stuffed plush teddy bears are a mainstay in courtship and even in anniversaries. For kids, it’s the plush stuffed animals and dolls that are such an important part of their repertoire of comfort toys. Technically, there’s a general confusion whether to call these as toys or as comfort tools.

To make these two dolls, I got Sophie and Kat to enrol in a felt maker session on Friday. In this session we hope to have a good amount of our prototypes completed, and also some photographs to submit to #bestofcolab.

We also aim to have the dolls ready to enter the ECC Student Craft/Design Awards in September.

On Tuesday we met with Kate Coleman, Employer Relations Manager (Co-operative Education) for AUT’s faculty of Business, Economics and Law. She loved our idea, and has advertised our project on AUT’s career hub in the hopes of finding 1-3 business, marketing and sustainability students who would like to work on this as a project, and perhaps go on the journey with us to make it a reality.

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I feel that it’s best to wait at least a week to see if we have any bites. If not, Kate has other avenues to help support us.

I’ve started thinking about future possibilities for doodle dolls and how to increase revenue opportunities for both the company and the children. I would like to make children’s books out of the drawings, using the artists description of the drawing as the story line eg a book called Benjamin the Police Helicopter Pilot. This will also be turned into an animation which will in turn give way to the production of merchandise and licensing to other companies. A percentage of royalties will be paid to the child/artist.

Kate’s advise was not to start anything on social media until we can continually post and have a product. She also suggested getting a celebrity endorsement, to get Doodle Dolls out there.

Kate also brought to our attention that we will need to do market validation, to accurately measure who our customer base will be. Even though we may be a child’s plushie, our actual market will probably be adults – parents buying for their children, and adults buying for themselves as collectables.

It’s all very exciting, and I really want to make this a reality. I feel DD can really make a difference. We can’t change every child’s life, but if we can reach and help some, then it’s more than worth it. Even if we help inspire others – other companies to give back and children to turn their dreams into reality – then our mission will be a success.

At the moment, we will focus on the child poverty issue. The prisoner reintegration may be a future goal.