Exclusive Q&A with Maya Persaud, Co-founder of Lotty Dotty on Starting-up a High-end Fashion Business

Who would know that playing with paper dolls turns out to be the humble beginning to a one-of-a-kind business? This is exactly how Lotty Dotty, a high-end apparel company, was born.

Inspired by the paper dolls they played during their childhood, Co-founders Shevanne Helmer and Maya Persaud launched the Paris-based Lotty Dotty, which line of T-shirts features screen printed doll figures that can be dressed with designer velcro-backed mini-outfits – just like how you play with paper dolls.

Lotty Dotty Co-founders Shevanne Helmer and Maya Persaud

We have a wonderful opportunity to converse with Ms. Maya Persaud in a Q&A session, talking about Lotty Dotty and the fashion industry in general. Without further adieu, here’s the Q&A:

Ivan Widjaya (Q): Can you tell us about your startup, Lotty Dotty (a fancy name, by the way!)

Maya Persaud (A): Thank you! We make interactive apparel for adults and children. With Lotty Dotty shirts, you may dress your doll/character on your T-shirt via Velcro appliqué.

Founded in 2009, Shevanne and I commercialized our first line in 2010. Our first big clients were adult stores in Italy and Japan which we never expected. Our latest collection features Talking Friends characters Talking Tom, Talking Angela, Talking Ben, Talking Ginger, Talking Gina and Talking Pierre. Talking Tom and Friends is the 2nd most popular App of all time with over 2.5 billion downloads.

Lotty Dotty Talking Tom and Friends Special Edition

Q: Your T-shirts are a dream comes true to girls! How do you come up with the idea?

A: The idea came from Paper dolls. One day I was looking for a gift for my niece and found the cutest paper doll magnet kit. I thought this would be such a good idea for a T-shirt for little girls!.

Q: The design of your T-shirts is simply amazing. I learn that the design is the work of various indie designers – can you tell us a bit about that – how does it works, and how do you discover talents?

A: Our design team is based in Paris, France, one of the fashion capitals of the world. Young designers are given a carte blanche to create whatever they wish using the theme of his/her choice. We’ve used designers from London, Paris, USA and Ghana. We collaborate with fashion schools and use social networks a lot to find our talented designers.

Lotty Dotty T-shirt design

Q: Your T-shirts are made of 100% cotton and use plenty of recycled materials – what do you think is the role of fashion industry in everyone’s effort to go eco-friendly?

A: Being a mother of 2 and a lover of nature, I try to be aware of issues concerning the environment. I cannot speak for other fashion brands, but I do believe that there needs to be a collective effort to consider the damage we are leaving for future generations.

Some luxury brands burn left over stock in order to maintain their prestige. Others create clothing in deplorable conditions in order to gain maximum profit and to sell at the lowest price possible. I’m not a Malthusian doomsday theorist, but I do believe that we need to change our ways in order to preserve our environment and fashion can make a huge impact.

Q: Please share your tips for budding entrepreneurs who want to jump into the fashion industry.

A: Dive! Jump! As a first time entrepreneur, I’ve made tons of mistakes. Through making mistakes you learn and progress. Think outside of the mold and make sure you love what you do and you build a team with others who share your dream.

Many thanks, Maya, for your time!