My Kids Doodles: the Dubai parents turning children’s drawings into stylish accessories
'I think every parent loves his kid’s drawings, doodles or handwriting, but sometimes we don’t know how to keep all these creations,' say Fabrice and Lea Vallotton
Family refrigerator doors can often look like cluttered mood boards, with colourful, alphabet-shaped magnets holding in place a concoction of papers – from Polaroid photographs and grocery shopping lists to torn-out sketchbook pages of children’s drawings. Heralded as masterpieces by both the makers, and their parents, these Crayola-coloured pictures feature everything from makeshift family portraits to first attempts at forming words and sentences on paper – and as the days go by, the pages amass, until there’s simply no more room on the metal appliance for further sketches. They’re then relegated to a folder and buried in a drawer, or perhaps, thrown in the recycling bin, to make space for new and improved works of art.
Recognising the sentimentality behind this sort of homemade artwork, husband and wife duo, Fabrice and Lea Vallotton, who live in Dubai, have created My Kids Doodles, a brand that transforms little ones’ scribbles into wearable art, giving them the longevity they deserve. “I think every parent loves his kid’s drawings, doodles or handwriting, but sometimes we don’t know how to keep all these creations,” explains Fabrice. “To be able to turn it into a wearable piece of jewellery is something very meaningful. It’s more than a jewel, it’s also a connection to your family.”
Working with a local Dubai jeweller, the Vallottons can digitise a child’s artwork using software such as AutoCAD or CorelDRAW, and then produce the piece in silver or gold. Customers can order pendants that are cut in the exact shape of the doodle, or circular charms that feature engravings of the drawings, or of handwriting. It’s not a service just for mums; cufflinks and keychains with leather straps are also available for dads. Fabrice says making these pieces is an intricate process, and meticulous craftsmanship is employed while capturing the details of the drawing, to ensure the replication is as authentic as can be. “We always respect the original lines of the child’s doodle and we only decide which elements should be included and how to best include them,” he explains. “If needed we also send a draft to the customer to make sure they like it.”
Fabrice, who’s Swiss, and Lea, who’s from the Philippines, had each lived in Dubai for more than a decade before they met in 2009. They later got married and now they have three children and, in addition to running My Kids Doodles, both of them work full-time: Fabrice as an air traffic controller and Lea as a hospital medical technologist. Still in the beginning phases of their custom jewellery business, the entrepreneurial parents are naturally employing the artistic services of their own offspring. “
Our kids are making lots of drawings to help us for the website,” says Fabrice, adding that one of the first designs the couple tested was a drawing done by their daughter Zoey. “It’s a little girl with four hearts around her.” When reimagined as a pendant, the doodle features Zoey’s female stick-figure drawing, complete with a triangle-shaped dress, hairstyle with three strands of hair forming a fringe and smiling face. Hearts circled the figure in the original doodle, but they appear connected to the smiling little girl in the pendant, ensuring that the artwork emerged as one piece when reproduced as jewellery.
We always respect the original lines of the child’s doodle and we only decide which elements should be included and how to best include them. If needed we also send a draft to the customer to make sure they like it.
“We were so excited and happy when we got the silver pendant ready. After taking all the pictures we needed for our website, we actually gifted it to my mum, Zoey’s grandma, and she wears it every day.” These mementos, after all, are intended to be wearable and versatile – not to be locked away in a jewellery box, or – like paper artwork – to be stored in a folder and taken out annually for a quick look before being filed away again. The Vallottons hope their brand will help parents keep their children’s treasured artwork close to heart – literally.
In the UAE, Tiffany necklaces, with their inimitable teal-coloured enamel heart charms, and Cartier Love bangles, with their distinctive screw-head engravings, might be the jewellery pieces of choice for stylish, designer-savvy residents. But the Vallottons are not trying to challenge this culturally engrained, brand-conscious approach to accessorising. Instead, they’re offering customised and meaningful pieces that can be worn alone, as statement jewellery, but also help complement other chains and pendants by stacking and layering, which is a current fashion trend.
So how does it all work? Customers visit the Vallottons’ website, select the type of jewellery or accessory they’d like to customise, and then choose from three finishes of sterling silver: silver, gold-plated or rose gold-plated. If they’re purchasing a necklace, they select the length of the chain, and if they’re buying a keychain, they can choose the colour of the leather strap. Then, they must upload a scan or photograph of the drawing or handwriting they’re seeking to replicate. Keychains start at Dh399, pendants at Dh399 and cufflinks at Dh649. Bracelets will also soon be available, Fabrice reveals. “We will soon be able to turn children’s handwriting names or short messages into bracelets – we are in the final phase of tests and we are hopeful to introduce the product shortly.”
Clients can also upgrade their orders by requesting diamonds and precious stones to be worked into the doodle designs. As a substitute for silver, clients can request 18-karat gold or platinum, too. The possibilities are endless, Fabrice adds. “We could literally make any customisation you could think of.” And, within three to five working days, clients will receive their orders to their doorsteps, gift-wrapped, with a photo of the original drawing and the little artist’s name and age.
So far, Fabrice says the most popular design among customers is the pendant that features children’s handwriting. Messages like “I love you” or “My mummy” scrawled in a child’s early handwriting have been the brand’s bestsellers. Some parents frame their babies’ footprints or save locks of their hair in decorative keepsake boxes, but, as they grow older and start to misbehave, what better reminder is there of the unconditional love that comes with a parent-child bond than a wearing a message from the good-old days, back when they were young, cute and innocent? This weekend may mark Valentine’s Day, but sentimentality is something that My Kids Doodles is banking on all year round.
Updated: February 21, 2020 05:24 AM