Kate Middleton doll proves a hit for St Albans businesswoman

The Princess Catherine Doll which launched last week ahead of the Royal Wedding between Kate Middleton and Prince William has been created by a woman originally from St Albans

A KATE Middleton doll which sold out in Hamley’s within a matter of days is the brainchild of a business woman from St Albans.

One half of product design company Arklu, which created the Princess Catherine Doll and sparked global interest when it launched the toy last week, is marketing guru Lucie Follett, who now lives in London but grew up in the city centre and whose parents still live in the area.

The 35-year-old and her business partner, toy manufacturing expert Ian Harkin, have collaborated with a host of leading British designers – including bespoke clothes maker Pussy Willow and hat designer Katherine Elizabeth Millinery – to create 10,000 copies of the collectable doll.

It was launched under the umbrella of Champions of British Style, a brand concept developed by Arklu to showcase the very best of authentic British fashion and design, and there will hopefully be many more dolls to follow.

The replica doll is fashioned to resemble Kate Middleton right down to the Eaton clutch bag, fascinator and shoes, and �1 from every sale will be donated to Help for Heroes – a charity element which will continue with every future product.

Explaining how the idea came about, Lucie, who is also behind a successful Cheryl Cole style website, said: “I was already running an online marketing business and had worked with a number of the designers on a couple of celebrity style websites. When the engagement happened the first thought that ran through my mind was that this woman [Kate Middleton] is going to be a globally recognised figure.

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“So I decided to set up a celebrity style site about her but then also decided to take it one step further and develop the fashion side of things and I joined up with Ian who has been the director of a toy manufacturing company. From there we decided to develop a concept all about British style.”

Lucie, founder of online marketing agency Maven Metrics, said it has been an arduous task turning the product around in such a small time frame but one that is well worth the hard work. She said: “We are a start up company and a British brand that is self financed and not funded by any multi-national company and there’s no third party investment – it has all been the work of blood, sweat and tears.”

Lucie, whose mum Joan is Grove House nursing services manager, continued: “Since being catapulted into the limelight and following the announcement of her engagement to Prince William, Kate’s every outfit has come under scrutiny in the fashion world. The catwalks this season show a feminine and elegant trend that is very much in keeping with that of Kate Middleton.

“Some commentators think we are seeing the beginnings of ‘The Kate Effect’ which could prove a huge bonus in promoting the best of British fashion and style to a global market.”

She added: “ We have been thrilled by the enthusiasm and support of our designers and each in their own way has embodied the ethos of great British style in the Princess Catherine Doll.”

Since the doll launched in Hamley’s last Thursday, Lucie has been inundated with calls and requests for the doll from practically every country in the world and she describes the response as “unbelievable”.

And the launch of www.princesscatherinestyle.com, which will include celebrity stylist commentary and will help those inspired by Kate Middleton’s style to achieve her look on a more modest budget, is imminent.

Work on the Princess Catherine wedding doll is already underway and Lucie said she would also love to work with Cheryl Cole.

The engagement doll retails at �34.95 and can be bought from a number of outlets as well as directly from www.arklu.com.