We are really thinking a lot about Barbie these days! Why is there so much talk? After all she can fly, cook, swim, surf, pretend, work, teach, lead, skate, dress up, design, and so much more. What more do we want from this doll? I say, “let girls play!” It’s OK to be young, free, full of imagination AND to like shoes.
By now you should have heard of the term “transmedia”, the definition of which seems to vary from industry to industry. For us, the veteran girl experience designers at Nena Media, transmedia is telling stories across forms, each form making up an essential but different part of the whole story. We are form agnostic as those are sure to change with time and technology. Today the challenge is covering an ever-widening array of forms and doing it all simultaneously. These forms, like social media, fashion, books, music, games and movies are at the heart of where girls hangout. Any way you define it, we know that building brands for girls means stories must have meaning in their lives beyond the screen and be able to seamlessly move into multiple experiences that feel natural and authentic, not stretched or plastic. It’s like connecting the dots in a four dimensional story matrix. A story can be defined as the fairytale or it can be the backstory of the person telling it. It’s the Teller and the Tale. Both are relevant to our audience. Whether playing or dreaming, girls love the who-what-when-where because they aspire to be all that and more. Modern storytellers often find themselves needing to weave together reality and fantasy while keeping an audience willing to go either way. While transmedia storytellers must work in multiple dimensions compelling their audiences to re-engage for each part, if done right, transmedia stories can end up like good friends: always there for you, in different ways, and just in time.
There is a new world of story magic out there! Imagine 3D printing objects (cool on their own) but then viewing them through the “magic glass” of your smartphone. Suddenly the possibilities are endless as you view creatures, characters and otherworldly animations connected to the object you just printed. Suddenly a virtual kitty is sleeping on your newly printed chair or a fairy is breaking free from the lantern you just printed. Story, whether in the printers mind or viewed through augmented reality, is what makes these objects special and desirable.
The technology is there but the magic is waiting to be unleashed!
Watch our Digital Dollhouse video featuring girls creating their own dollhouse furniture. 3D printing is becoming a consumer reality. Nena Media, however, believes that 3D printing will only catch on outside of the business sector if consumers can see the value of printing items in a natural context. What better context then in the capricious world of toys where a girl may want to create a doll chair one day and a pair of shoes the next?
As the price of printers become more attractive and the hardware becomes more user friendly, 3D printing will no longer just appeal to the “makers” and “hobbyist” set. We want to focus on creating a clear front-facing product where consumers can play with an item digitally, make a decision to either print or order the item, and then continue to play. Rather than making items for existing 3D model catalogs, we see 3D printing as part of our play experience combining the instant gratification of online gaming with the physicality of real world toys.
Jesyca Durchin, creator of Digital Playspace and Dreamhouse Designer, and Dawn Espinoza, owner of Design-Her Gals, believe in the business of publishing creativity tools for women online. Design-Her Gals enables everyone to create an avatar by selecting from hundreds of different outfits, hairstyles, body types and more. This decidedly modern (and grown-up) site of digital paper dolls is extremely popular, and along with the fashion activities, Designer-Her Gals offers members the opportunity to personalize high-quality stationery and other items featuring their “Gal.”
Design-Her Gal was recently featured on ABC-TV’s show Live, Love, Laugh Today with Linda Cooper and Susie McAuley.
Dreamhouse Designer offers a similar interactive digital design experience but focuses on the creation of environments–“Dreamhouses”–where designers can express their creativity by decorating 3D rooms with furniture and accessories from the sitem and by adding images from all over the web through a proprietary tool. Dreamhouse Designer has been compared to a “gamefied pinterest.”
At the heart of both projects is a commitment to creating and nurturing an online community that loves to express themselves and support others in their creative endeavors. Like so many female entrepreneurs, Dawn and Jesyca immediately discovered ways that they could make the two sites work together to increase their traffic, generate more interest and support both communities.
Starting October 25, Dreamhouse Designer will host a “Dream Office” design competition that invites all designers to create a Design-Her Gal avatar and import it into their dream office through the Dreamhouse Designer app. Four winners will be selected by the Design-Her Gals staff and a $150 gift certificate will be given to the Grand Prize winner. Throughout the ten-day contest, which ends at midnight on November 3rd, Dawn and Jesyca will be creating avatars of themselves and their team members who will talk about their dream projects, what it means to start a business and why it’s important to follow your dreams.