I Made This! The Appeal Of Mass Customization

Jones Soda
Image via Wikipedia

Interesting recent profile in The New York Times of a 22-year-old, Fan Bi, who’s running Blank Label, a company where you can order a custom-made shirt — what the Brits call bespoke — for as little as $45. In Manhattan, that’s about three cocktails.

It’s not a new idea, but I find this notion of “co-creating” fascinating. Maybe 15 years ago, I profiled one of the leaders in this style of business, Peter van Stolk, founder and former CEO of Jones Soda, which puts customers’ black and white photos, complete with a photo credit, on their labels.

This weekend I had the world’s fastest bagger at the grocery store, a young girl wearing the coolest sneakers ever. I admired them and she showed off their mix of five different fabrics, including the lining, which she’d designed from the Converse website.

In a world where about 95 percent of anything we’ll ever own, use or buy is designed by someone millions of miles away from you, I can see the appeal of this. I try to make or customize almost anything I can. I hate most mass-produced stuff precisely because the only role left for me in using it is paying for it at the end of the global supply chain. Zzzzzzzzz.

What have you designed entirely of your own? What made you want to do it — and where did you acquire the skills or confidence to make it yourself?

8 thoughts on “I Made This! The Appeal Of Mass Customization

  1. Pingback: PHP Freelance Jobs - Work From Home - Online Jobs

  2. dandelion

    Indeed! I want to design everything as much as I can and this led me to Blank Label. I was very satisfied with the quality of the dress shirt I ordered from them. It feels great that I’m most likely the only one wearing that particular dress shirt design because I designed it myself. And for the win, I got compliments.

  3. Caitlin Kelly

    Interesting…I wonder why more people don’t feel that impulse. I love making things or making them mine with my own changes. It might be the fear of doing it “wrong”?

    1. dandelion

      It could be that they’re scared of ending up a royal disaster, yes. Or they’re just plainly uninformed. I asked some of my friends if they have tried co-creating products online and they don’t even have the slightest idea of what I’m talking about. Yeah, we need to spread the word.

  4. Caitlin Kelly

    The whole idea of “co-creation” hasn’t received that much media attention..I think creative types (etsy etc) have and standard business models have, but not this hybrid. The idea of enabling a buyer to be(come) creative and collaborative is so interesting to me. It creates a “buy-in” that is much deeper and more emotional. I am rarely fond of buying stuff “as is” but lack the skill to make my own shoes, etc….

    1. dandelion

      I personally think the idea of co-creation is very convenient and that it actually needs further information drive. Come to think of buying stuff and designing it yourself from the comforts of your home? One weakness I have in co-creation though is that I’m not very good at color combination. If it wasn’t for my good friend, I would have ended up a clown. Still, doesn’t change the fact that it’s very convenient.

  5. Caitlin Kelly

    We renovated our bathroom, which I designed. It was amazing fun but really hard work to design every single element for a room that is 5 by 7 — when it came time to deal with the baseboards, the contractor took the floor tile, cut them in half and made a fantastic design — a fix that saved me money and I could not have imagined. That, to me, is also co-creation, problem-solving on the spot.

    I studied interior design and have a great color sense; my (relative) weakness is the use of space. It helps to have backup!

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