In 2011, the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton presented an opportunity for a number of new start-up businesses, one such business was Arklu, the company behind Lottie Dolls which are now selling in over 30 countries worldwide.
Their first product however was a doll to celebrate the engagement of Kate and William back in 2010, which they sold in Hamley’s, Harrods in London and FAO Schwartz in New York. When they heard of the engagement, they immediately realised there was an opportunity to get started. They contacted Clarence House who responded that they did not object as long as the company stayed within the guidance provided. Lottie Dolls then volunteered to donate proceeds from each doll sold to two of Williams charities.
The company had been researching the doll market based on the insight that there was a gap in the market for a wholesome doll. After eighteen months of research with academics, retailers, moms and kids to discover what the word wholesome meant to people they launched Lottie, a doll based on a child not an adult.
Lottie focuses on childhood and works with real kids to help inspire other kids to reach for their dreams. In naming their doll brand the company researched Williams family tree and discovered that Charlotte was the only name not used by any of his relatives, so they went for the abbreviated name Lottie as a token back to the companies origins. Two years later as a coincidence their first daughter was named Charlotte.
Working from their kitchen tables in London back in 2011 the original founders Ian Harkin and Lucie Follett, self-funded the business. As the business took off Harkin sold his London home invested all of the proceeds into the business and moved it to the Northwest coast of Ireland. The business now employs 16 people and sells its products in over 30 countries receiving over 35 international toy awards to date. The brand is focused on empowering girls and boys to achieve anything they set out to achieve, their motto is #BeBoldBeBraveBeYou.
In May 2016, The Prince of Wales visited the offices of Arklu in Donegal where he was presented with the original Royal dolls and a selection of Lottie dolls for his grandchild which were mentioned on the official gift list issued in January 2017.
Selection of Lottie Dolls gifted to Prince George in May 2016
Introducing Royal Flower Girl Lottie
With Charlotte named in the bridal party leading Meghan Markle up the aisle to marry Prince Harry on May 19th at St George's Chapel, Windsor, Royal Flower Girl Lottie wears a traditional satin flower girl dress with satin pumps and a pretty flower crown. Royal Flower Girl Lottie also comes with her very own posy to carry up the aisle.
The Royal Flower Girl pack will also include a piece of artwork as designed by an Inspired by Real Kids competition winner in the form of a wedding card. Inspired by Real Kids is an ongoing series of competitions launched in September of 2017. The Lottie Dolls team is committed to working closely with children to design the products that they want. The competitions have become a signature feature of the Irish company.
Meghan Markle: An Inspiring Princess
"Meghan told me that I can achieve whatever I want to achieve.”
Sophie, aged 10
From a young age, Meghan Markle was keen to make an impact on the world she was growing up in. Taking issue with a dish soap ad’s implication that “women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans”, an 11 year old Meghan not only wrote to the company highlighting the point, but also went onto popular Nickleodeon programmeNick Newsto give an impassioned speech to address what she viewed as harmful inequality. She ultimately succeeded in her campaign and then wording of the advert was changed.
You can watch footage of her appearance here:
Her confidence in this clip is undeniably inspiring and reminds us of two of our own Lottie ambassadors, Allie and Taylor pictured here at last year’s Vogue Summit following their each being named as one of Vogue’s ’21 Under 21’.
Like Meghan, Taylor proved there’s no age limit for activism, raising enough money at age 9 to send herself to space camp. In 2018 now aged 15, Taylor raised over $100K to bring 1000 girls to see the culturally diverse movie‘A Wrinkle in Time’,$50K of which was donated by none other than Oprah herself.
Issues of cultural identity and society’s expectations regarding skin colour is something that is is at the forefront of Lottie Dolls’ philosophy. The importance of diversity in movies and in toys is an integral part of creating that sense of inclusion which is massively important for children as they develop into adulthood. Lottie Dolls’ has been committed to creating a range of dolls that are reflective of a diverse society not only in terms of race, but also in respect of ability and gender.
Meghan Markle has spoken openly about identifiying as mixed race and her feelings regarding the oftentimes intrusive questions she is forced to answer regarding her heritage. Following many years of feeling as though she had to check herself into a box, Meghan has said that that she realises now that people don’t fit into categories and that “I am enough exactly as I am.” Here at Lottie, we couldn’t agree more! We wish her and HRH Prince Harry all the best on May 19th!