Tuesday, January 24, 2012

An interview with My London Girl

 Today I am thrilled to bring you an interview with Paul Neagle of My London Girl.
My London Girl's have recently taken the UK by storm. Paul shares with us how My London Girl got started!

Q: How did you start the journey in bringing the dolls/ brand to life?
A:We have one son (now in his 20s) and two daughters (now in their teens) and over the past 20 years we spent several vacations in the US which is how and when we discovered American Girl. We had not come across the concept of matching doll's and girl's clothing in Europe and thought that it was a wonderful and inspirational idea. Over time we purchased several of the AG dolls and outfits, and our daughters spent a huge amount of their free time playing with their dolls. We noticed how creatively the girls interacted with them and with each other, and how the dolls seemed to be involved in almost very aspect of their lives - the only exception being school days when they had to leave them at home. Their friends reacted to the dolls in a similar way and we gradually built up a small but enthusiastic circle of converts. The problem was that the dolls and outfits had to be imported into the UK which made it a very expensive proposition for the majority of parents. In late 2010 we took the decision to start our own brand based on the same underlying concept but working with established children's clothing designers in the UK, three of whom we managed to convince to manufacture matching doll's clothes for us alongside their existing production runs. We purposely chose designers who had a contemporary and/or a classical house style with a reputation for high quality whilst being wholesome and appropriate for a core age range of 3-12 years. Finally we had to find a suitable name for the business and after some debate decided that "My London Girl"  encapsulated what we are about and had the strongest global recognition out of the various options that were available to us.

 Q: What is the process you went through in choosing the dolls

A:Our first decision was to go for a soft-bodied 18 inch doll as there was already a small but established market for this type of doll in the UK and Europe, and we found them easier for young children to dress compared to similarly sized all-vinyl dolls - and they are cuddlier when it comes to bed-time!. Over the next three months we worked on designing our own range of dolls with different hair styles, hair colours, eye colours and skin tones, plus a collection of nine doll outfits. We wanted to cater for all of the major ethnic groups in the UK and Europe and eventually settled on an initial range of seven dolls which is wider than any other European retailer currently has on offer in this category.

Tell me more about My London Girl, about how your entire family participates in company decision making.
A:Kathryn is our chief designer and has a talent for fashion and interior design , however our daughters had a great deal of involvement in selecting the dolls, in designing the outfits and choosing the accessories. Both visited one or more of the toy fairs and attended meetings with suppliers. Naming the dolls was one of the most enjoyable and occasionally controversial tasks in which all of the family (father and son included) took an active part, with the final choice going to a democratic vote. We tried to select names with a broad cross-cultural appeal, that were consistently popular rather than the latest fad and deliberately avoided any association with celebrities whose public behavior was inconsistent with our own values as a family-oriented business. Our son is the manager of our store in Westfield London and all of the family play an active part in running the various facets of the business - there is a photo on our website of the Neagle family cutting the pink ribbon upon the opening of our store - on September 7th 2011.

Tell us a bit about how the dolls are manufactured.
A:As you might expect, our dolls are manufactured in Asia. As child safety is our number one priority, product quality/durability and environmental issues are key so we found a supplier with an established track record of safety, quality and sustainability. We paid particular attention to the dolls' hair as we wanted to find a solution that was aesthetically attractive across a variety of hair styles, but also durable enough to withstand brushing and re-styling over a long period of time. We eventually chose a rooting system, modified to our own design, rather than wigs, and we are very pleased with the results to date.   The same approach was adopted with our clothing suppliers where we looked for designers whose products featured in high-end department stores and independent boutiques as opposed to mass market retailers.  We have worked exclusively with UK clothing designers as we want My London Girl to have a strong identity with both our home market and with visitors coming to London in search of British-designed products. 

Can My London Girl Dolls be shipped world wide?
A:Unfortunately we are restricted at present by both logistical and insurance (product liability) issues to Europe and a small number of other countries outside Europe - see www.mylondongirl.com/delivery for the full list. We hope in the future to expand our geographical scope to North America and other parts of the globe. 

Are there any store exclusives, items for the dolls that you can not purchase on line?
A:Yes. As we are a new business it would not be cost-effective for us to offer our full product range on-line, and there are a number of product handling and packaging issues that would require significant investment before we could take that step. So far we have posted on the website our seven dolls, a total of 26 doll dresses/outfits, 10 matching girl's dresses/outfits in various sizes and a small range of shoes and accessories for dolls and girls. It is certainly our intention to expand our on-line offering but this will be a gradual process over the next year or two. 

As some of my readers know I love to collect Store doll T-Shirts, do you have Store exclusive t-shirts or the dolls "meet" outfits sold in store?
We have just launched two new matching t-shirts for dolls and girls in our own house style although they are not identical to the one which is part of the the standard doll outfit. At present these new items are available in store only but will shortly be added to the website (subject to the geographical restrictions mentioned above).
You can visit My London Girl on line by clicking here and join me in Liking them on Facebook by clicking here

My sister Bre-Anne, has just come back from London and had a wonderful visit at the My London Girl store and I can not wait to share with you all about her visit and the treasures she brought me back.
As with all my posts I would love to hear from you so please leave me a comment here or email me at karenmowen@gmail.com


  1. Wow! very impressive. Sometimes an idea sparks and this wonderful new business is off the ground and running. Seven dolls, with outfits. Do they have stories? Please share pictures of the new addition to your dolls soon. ♥♥♥
    ^j^ Mrs.C.

  2. Hello Mrs. C, I have a post ready for tomorrow.
    They do have a store front in
    Westfield London Shopping Centre
    it is very beautiful and My sister loved it. She was so impressed with it and the quality of the doll clothing and store items! More to share on that in the coming days!