Update: We reached our goal, but we aren't done yet! There is a very important stretch goal that I need your help to get to. To this end, I've added a $20 reward level. While a CNC is the biggest component of this project, having a 3D printer along side it would make the workflow complete. Can you help me raise the total to $9500?
What This Is: My product / project is a line of contemporary dollhouse furniture. Dollhouse furniture is stuck in the past and that's not helping bring new generations into the hobby. Today's young adults rarely see Victorian-style furniture outside of antique shops. I intend to create relatable furniture, like the kind you'd see at an IKEA or Target, hopefully bringing fresh eyes and hands to this great hobby.
Did you know that this is the *first ever* Kickstarter for creating dollhouse furniture? No one has done it before!
Just 1:12 Dollhouse furniture? Nope! 1:12 is just my jumping off point. I know there is a lot of interest in Half-scale (1:24) and Quarter-scale (1:48). So the first thing on my list after completing this line will be to scale my pieces down to those sizes. Then I know there is a lot of interest in Barbie scale (1:6) and American Girl Doll scale (1:3ish) and also BDJ scale (1:3) so I'll scale my pieces up for that. If you pick a reward that has you designing something, we can work in whatever scale you'd like.
Who I Am: My name is April Ansley and I'm an industrial designer! I graduated from the University of Cincinnati's nationally top-ranked industrial design program, and I've worked in the toy industry with both Hasbro and LEGO. I've been making models and miniatures all my life. I credit my parents with my love of making; they provided me with every building toy imaginable when I was little, from Tinkertoys and Lincoln Logs, to Erector sets, to more advanced things like Gearopolis, Capsela, and basic circuit breadboards. I'm a maker, and I've recently realized I should embrace this and use it as more than just a hobby.
Why I Need You: I need your help with production. It's very time consuming to create furniture by hand (that's why there are very few miniaturist artists who do). I want to bring my university knowledge of CNC machines into the picture. These machines are perfectly suited for small intricate work where precision is a key factor. I need your help to purchase a CNC router.
The fabric elements will be sewn by hand or on home sewing machines. Everything will be locally made in the Midwest, USA. Given the number of things needing sewing and paper cutting, I plan on contracting out piece work to local seamstresses and scrapbookers in my parent's small town. Maybe we can even kick start their little community!
What I'm Making:
I'm making eight different room sets that will each contain three pieces of furniture and various accessories. As stretch goals, I have another twelve room sets, but because they require more detailed work and some even require me to purchase a 3D printer, I'll need more than my initial goal to offer them.
- Living Room Lounging Set (couch, coffee table, end table)
- Living Room Visiting Set (2 arm chairs, and end table)
- Family Room Entertaining Set (TV console, recliner, and end table)
- Family Room Overnight Set (futon, coffee table, bean bag chair)
- Dining Table Set (table, 2 chairs)
- Master Bedroom Sleeping Set (double bed, 2 nightstands)
- Master Bedroom Dressing Set (dresser, wardrobe, floor mirror)
- Child Bedroom (single bed, nightstand, dresser)
If we reach $9,000:
- Nursery (crib, changing table, rocking chair)
- Toddler Bedroom (toddler bed, dresser, rocking horse)
- Toy Room (easel, toy box, short bookcase)
- Study (desk, chair, tall bookcase)
If we reach $9,500
- More accessories will be added into all unlocked sets! Lamps, alarm clocks, toasters, electronics, toys, etc...
All because I'll be able to purchase a 3D Printer!
If we reach $10,000
- Kitchen Cabinets Set (cabinet, sink cabinet, counter-top)
- Kitchen Appliances Set (fridge, range, dishwasher)
- Dining Sideboard Set (sideboard, 2 chairs)
If we reach $11,000:
- Guest Bathroom Set (toilet, pedestal sink, shelf unit)
- Family Bathroom Set (toilet, cabinet sink, shower tub combo)
- Laundry Room Set (washer, dryer, utility sink)
If we reach $12,000:
- Patio Set (2 deck chairs and end table)
- Garden Set (potting bench, arch trellis, flower pot fountain)
This all sounds great! What Do I Get In Return for Helping?
$1+ All Reward Levels: Small Follower Thank you for your support! This gains you access to the Backers-Only process videos This reward is included with EVERY reward level. There will be 4 videos posted during the campaign, and likely more will follow as I complete the project.
$5 Reward Level: Eensy-Weensy Mini Fan So you want something physical for your money, but you don't have a dollhouse? I've got postcards! I'll be making postcards, greeting cards and calendars (see below) from images I'll create from my new furniture and accessories. The images you see below are just a sample. I'll give you a few images to rank in order of favorites and send you one of your top picks inside an envelope to keep it safe.
$15 Reward Level: Itsy-Bitsy Mini Fan If one little postcard isn't enough (how could it be?!) I'm also offering a variety 4 pack of greeting cards. You pick your top three favorites and the fourth will be a random card. Now, I know lots of people hate randoms, so I'll even let you tell me which one you dislike and I'll be sure you don't get stuck with that one.
$20 Reward Level: Notta Hobbyist Dollhouses? Who cares! This reward level is for those who want to help, but would rather get something a bit ... unrelated. Using my CNC router, I'll carve out a custom key-chain with your name on it just for you. I'm not entirely sure exactly what they will look like yet, but here's an idea:
$25 Reward Level: Teeny-Tiny Mini Fan This is the perfect reward for those who want to enjoy this project all year long. I'll be creating a calendar from images I'm taking of the furniture and accessories created in the project. Calendar will be for 2015, be 12 months long, and be regular-people sized.
$39 Reward Level: Eensy-Weensy Designer This is where things start to get interesting! At this reward level you get to be a designer! We will work via Skype to come up with a small accessory item for you. This could be a pillow, child's toy, favorite bookshelf knickknack of your own, anything! The only limitation is that if it were full size, it wouldn't be called a piece of furniture. I'll also entertain other scales besides 1:12, such as Barbie and American Girl Doll scales.
From this point on, if anything you design or choose as a reward gets used in the promotional images (which might incur a shipping delay), I'll send you a postcard of your item(s) in addition to your reward. Additionally, your name and link to a website of your choice will be posted on the Smallhouse Models website.
$49 Reward Level: Itsy-Bitsy Digital Dollhouser Perhaps you'd like to get in on the designing action, but you don't want the physical item? Maybe you are one of my Sims playing friends? Any items designed through the digital dollhouser tiers will still have the potential to become part of my physical product line, it's just you won't receive one in the mail. Instead you choose which file format you'd like your design in. .jpg, .obj, .ai, or sims2.package file.
$59 Reward Level: Itsy-Bitsy Hobbyist This is the cheapest you can get in on the CNC action. This level gets you a single room set of your choice. Each room set comes with 3 pieces of furniture and the various accessories that make the room, such as the pillow, sheets, and bedspread for this child's room. You will be provided with fabric and color choices for pieces that it's applicable to. Don't worry, you don't have to blindly pick out a set without seeing the final design. Initially, I'll ask for which set you think you'd like and then I'll get busy making the final prototypes. After those are done, I'll post pictures and you can decide which set you'd like to receive.
This is where your help really comes in handy. I have many different room offerings, and I can't create them all without your help in the first place. By asking for these different rooms I can afford to create them, take pictures of them (which I’ll use later in my Etsy store), use them in the calendar images, and later promotional materials. I'm counting on you all to collectively request the full set, through if no one wants a particular set, that will be helpful information as well. (Pictured below are *NOT* the final designs, they will be similar and more detailed, and all of your pieces will be FULLY assembled.)
$99 Reward Level: Teeny-Tiny Hobbyist This pledge gets you 2 room sets. They must be different, but I'm including this because a few of my room sets are in two parts, and this way you can get a 'full room'. Or you can get two unrelated rooms, whatever floats your boat. This pledge has all the benefits of the above pledge, but double! (Pictured below are *NOT* the final designs, they will be similar and more detailed, and all of your pieces will be FULLY assembled and upholstered appropriately.)
$149 Reward Level: Teeny Tiny Digital Dollhouser One lonely little digital file isn't enough? With this level you can design 3-7 furniture pieces or accessories (depending on complexity). Any items designed through the digital dollhouser tiers still have the potential to become part of my physical product line, it's just you won't receive one in the mail. Instead you choose which file format you'd like your design in. .jpg, .obj, .ai, or sims2.package file
$149 Reward Level: Widdle-Biddle Hobbyist This pledge gets you 3 room sets. As before, they must be different. This pledge has all the benefits of the above pledges, but triple! (Pictured below are *NOT* the final designs, they will be similar and more detailed, and all of your pieces will be FULLY assembled and upholstered appropriately.)
$300 Reward Level: Teeny-Tiny Designer Is a silly little pillow not enough of a challenge for your design skills to even bother getting out of bed in the morning? How about a custom model to your design and specs? Perhaps you want a mini version of your old grandfather's three-handled moss-covered gradenza? Perhaps you have that one spot in your dollhouse that has been sitting vacant for years till you can find that right piece? This is the pledge for you! We will work via Skype to design a miniature to your scale and specs, and then I'll send it to you. Depending on your item, this reward will significantly help fund the machine purchase.
$500 Reward Level: Little-Bitty Mini Fan You are a high-roller! For this amount, assuming you can get yourself to Cincinnati, OH, I'll take you on a tour of our local attraction, Entertrainment Junction. It is the world's largest interactive indoor model train layout. They also have the area's largest dollhouse shop. For some reason these two hobbies tend to go together, dunno why. Sorry, I can't provide travel expenses or lodging. If traveling to Bedford Indiana is better for you, you can have a tour of my shop and watch the machine in action! (My parents have donated part of their garage for this venture as my own apartment is too small.)
$750 Reward Level: Little-Bitty Hobbyist You just want it all! This reward level gets you every single room set that gets unlocked. If we get over-funded, you keep getting more! You still get to pick fabric choices and colors where applicable. This is a perfect reward level to give as a holiday gift, the only thing not included is the house. (I have plans for those at a later time as well.)
$1000 Reward Level: Little-Bitty Designer One piece isn't enough for you? You love the power? Fine, let's do this! Together we will create an *entire line* from your design or design inspiration. You pick the style, the scale, and you get to name it! I will also grant you the ability to purchase your line for well below retail as long as I have it on offer. The line that we design will be offered for sale on Etsy after my Kickstarter is completed. You will be credited and all of your pieces will have your name/handle/whatever cut into them.
Nitty Gritty Numbers and Stuff:
Use of Funds: Here's a breakdown of how I will use the money. The initial $8000 will go directly toward everything listed in the completed circle, and any amount of over-funding will help pay the 'extra' costs. I'd love to be able to include molded shapes (like lamps and small appliances) if I am able to raise more than my goal. I'd also like to design professional packaging for my sets as I don't intend this project to be a one-off-and-done. I have some previous expenses from the project (such as material cost for my samples, and I'd like to build up a small inventory so I can seamlessly transition from Kickstarter to Etsy and Craft Shows after I've completed my project rewards.
Timeline: I fully intend everything to be in your hands before the 2014 winter holiday season. All of my rewards make great gifts, so I want to make sure you have them in case that's your plan. That being said, the best laid plans and their backup plans can still hit snags. Any backer rewards not satisfied by December will be supplied as soon as possible along with a personal explanation for the delay.
My plan is to get all the physical furniture and accessories done first, the Design It Yourself physical model opportunities will be scheduled throughout the project after the main sets have started production, then I'll get the calendar and other printed rewards made and shipped, and the digital rewards will be last as those are not particularly 'giftable' and I want to make sure everyone has their 'presents' before Santa brings his.
Risks and challenges
The foreseeable risks are that I'll have trouble getting a large enough supply of my thin hardwoods. I do have a supplier, so it would only be a delay in production.
Another issue is translating my designs into digital files that the machine can cut out properly. This will, at worst, simply be a short process of trial and error.
The biggest personal risk is that I may be under-pricing my pieces. I've read plenty of horror stories where the creator lost money on their project! I've done my math multiple times and I do not think this will be an issue, but there is always Murphy's Law.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (29 days)