The Arklu Story…
Arklu was originally formed in December 2010 by Ian Harkin and Lucie Follett (departed 2016); their first product being a Kate Middleton inspired doll see www.princesscatherinedoll.com they followed up a few months later with a double pack of Kate and William (the ‘Royal Wedding dolls’) and again it was a tremendous success. Arklu voluntary donated 50p and £1p respectively from each sale to Help for Heroes and to the RNLI.
They saw that there was a niche for a more wholesome alternative to the dolls that were currently on the market, and so spent 18 months performing research before launching Lottie Dolls in late August 2012. Lottie’s unique point of difference and the type of research carried out, are explained in more detail here.
Facing Challenges Along the Way
Creating an innovative product that is based firmly in core, solid values and beliefs has been a challenge, on several levels.
Retailers were reluctant to take a risk on anything untested, and demanded a product that not only looked like, but should be the same height, and of the same pink and sparkly mould as the fashion dolls they currently had on shelves.
Rather than conforming Harkin and Follett chose instead to self-fund the business to enable them to stay true to their own values and those discovered from their research, creating something unique, distinctive and innovative.
When the decision came to upscale from working on their respective kitchen tables in London, where both Ian and Lucie were based in the early days of Lottie Dolls, Arklu decided to set up business in Donegal, Ireland; an employment blackspot, where over 24% of the working population were unemployed. Ian sold his home in London and invested the proceeds into Arklu and received a matching loan from a government agency to help further develop the business.
Without a marketing budget Lottie Dolls have relied on word of mouth alone, the dolls themselves have been extremely well received by the toy industry having received numerous international awards to date in the USA UK and Canada. 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 Kids be kids” is paying off for the company.
Going forward, Lottie Dolls would like to continue championing the issues raised in the research performed with parents, kids and child development experts so that the company can continue to create something with lasting value.
Lottie believes in…
- Addressing positive body image awareness
- Highlighting the impact of bullying
- Encourage participation in STEAM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Maths)
- Promoting reading amongst kids
- Promoting gender equality
- Actively demonstrating to all kids that they can achieve anything they set out to accomplish
- Encouraging kids to get outdoors and keep healthy
- Having crowd-sourced child inspired product at the core of our development
As a business we wish to address and actively work on each of the following;
- Annually check and update product environmental impact, and look at ways to improve it
- Ensure factories maintain all ethical and quality standards especially in labour and working conditions
- Keep up to date on all product testing requirements in all countries and ensure compliance.
- Support independent retailers: (Ian Harkin, MD and CEO “we started our business with independent retailers and whilst we do sell in some of the bigger stores now, we always want to support the wonderful people who own and operate their own stores – and who support the Lottie brand ethos and message so passionately!”
- Invest in the growth development and wellbeing of Arklu employees
- Ensure customers are at the heart of the business
- Never to compromise core brand values over profit
Club Lottie is a key part of our brand’s development; we consult with our members regularly the benefits include:
- Monthly competitions exclusive to members
- Help deliver direction to the brand with regular engagement
- Incentives on your first order
- Website content exclusive to members
- Hear about new product announcements first
Lottie’s tag line is “Be Bold Be Brave Be You” we believe encompasses all of the values we have instilled in our brand. Thank you for your support and we look forward to the many adventures ahead!