About Culture Japan
Smart Doll Production Jobs
Smart Doll production is done in Japan - body frames are injection molded in Yamagata and outer shell parts casted in Katsushika Tokyo. Some apparel and wig items are made in Korea which has a rich BJD (Ball Jointed Doll) culture.
Smart Doll production is exciting because it's our first time doing it. There is so much to learn, invent, build and expand/improve upon.
The BJD is still a small niche market and it's our job to bring this form of art and inspiration to the rest of the world - and we have been doing so - about 80% of our customers are first time fashion doll owners.
Inventory, Purchase Order Management and Sales Forecasting
They may all sound boring but managing these 3 things is key for any business.
This job also involves managing relationships with vendors who produce components for us and anybody working on this team can expect 80% of their time to be dedicated to maintaining our quality standards.
Vendor's are usually great at doing their specialist jobs but the level of quality is set by their clients expectations - for this reason it is always challenging in educating and changing the culture of vendors to work with our high quality requirements.
Smart Doll Production
The Smart Doll production team takes all the components and assembles everything together - but before this is done, parts need to be rechecked (even after QA has gone through them, the flash needs to be cut and a load of other processes need to be complete before the body is ready to be packed.
While there are many doll seamstresses out there who can produce high quality apparel in small quantities, there are not many places in the world that are able to mass produce miniature clothes at high quality.
In order to speed up the concept > market ready process, one of my goals is to increase headcount of our apparel team in Tokyo and setup apparel studios in various locations across Japan
Smart Doll is the perfect platform for character license development for anime, games and Hollywood movies too. In the very near future we plan to start making Smart Doll's of various characters and will be needing folks to manage not only the licensing agreements and supervision of prototypes at each stage by the licence holder, but also manage the production that will be involved in recreating the visual look and feel of the character in miniature form.
Product development is also done in our Tokyo offices. Together with our own 3D modeling team and 3D printers, we rely heavily on 3D rapid prototyping techniques to get our products to market within short cycles.
After prototype creation, this team then has to work out how and where the product is going to be mass produced, how it will be QC'ed, what the packaging will look like and how its made etc.
This team is also responsible for things like creating slush or injection molds, procuring components and material, creating paint masks for the faceup (painting of the face), development of the eyes which involves considering ink saturation and how light is bent through the acrylic depending on the eye radius and distance of print from eye surface etc.
80% of our time is taken up by Quality Control. All components that arrive in our office in Tokyo are checked and where possible we try to fix anything that can be done in house - if not we send them back to the vendors and give them a spanking.
Fulfillment & Customer Service
At the moment most of our orders are taken online using Shopify and sometimes folks come to the office to pick up. As we are still new to all of this, much of this process is still very manual and involves printing picking lists, invoices, packing slips and so on.
Up until recently we used shared email to manage customer queries which was a nightmare but now we are using Zendesk which enables us to collaboratively manage customer queries and keep our sanity at the same time.
The Automated version of Smart Doll is now known as Smart Doll Plus. Robotics development is a prohibitively expensive - we could easily spend all our cash flow on its production but fortunately have more sense than money so we focus on the "Manual" version which is already on the market and generating a self sustainable business for us.
Having said that, I do spend resources working on this as a side project and will complete it.
Our 3D Engineers are equipped with skills to use a variety of 3D software such as ZBrush, SolidWorks, Autocad, Rhinoceros, 3D Max, Maya etc and are fully versed in issues relating to preparing the data for machining molds or for the printers we use in the office.
Our engineers have a good understanding about the various types of manufacture and material properties which enables them to design while taking into account various factors such as injection molding slide, ejector pin, warpage, shrinkage issues etc.