CLAWZ is a fashion company using 3D printing to produce radical luxury press-on nails.
We spoke with Chris Tweten, Director of Growth at CLAWZ, a very small startup that hopes to leverage 3D print technology into a new type of fashion business.
Fabbaloo: Tell us a little about the project. What is “CLAWZ”? How did the project begin?
Chris: CLAWZ are the latest in nail art - luxury press on nails that are 3D printed in precious metals. The project began when my co-founder, Avery-Anne Gervais started to learn about 3D printing at AssentWorks, Canada's largest makerspace. Thinking on problems that could be solved with the technology, she quickly turned to the very fashionable but not so functional nail art that's become so common with women today. The blinged out nail art that can be done at most nail salons make everyday tasks quite difficult - doing chores, typing or even just using a smart phone.
Women pay quite a bit for these nail routines, only to have to remove the look completely when they need to get back to reality. 3D printing allows us to create press on nails that are built to last and with designs that weren't previously possible. The project really started to take flight when Avery moved out to Shanghai after receiving investment from the Chinaccelerator program.
Fabbaloo: Who are you targeting for this product? Is it simply any fashionistas or is there a more niche group you’re focusing on?
Chris: We're trying to tailor the product towards women who already like the blinged out nail art designs at salons, regardless of if they already get them done or not. As we talk to more women, we've found that many don't get the more extravagant designs because of the price and practicality but love the idea of CLAWZ. The fact that they can be used more than once appeals to a much wider range of women than just fashionistas.
Fabbaloo: Buying any personal-sized item online can be challenging, as wrong sizes are easily selected. Has CLAWZ overcome that issue?
Chris: We'll be offering CLAWZ in 3 sizes: small, medium and large. The way our customers will find which size is right for them is pretty simple. We'll have a print-out on our website that is compared to your nails. Customers can also be shipped a sizing guide for free if they don't have access to a printer. However, like buying any article of clothing online, mistakes can happen so we'll have an exchange policy to cover all bases.
Fabbaloo: Describe the process you’re using to produce a 3D printed nail? What steps are taken? What software, machinery and services are used?
Chris: Our nails are designed with a few different softwares - Rhino, AutoCAD and 123D. Once the designs are finalized, moulds are 3D printed in silicone. From here, we utilize traditional casting methods to produce the nails in silver. The final step is electro-plating the silver nails to give them various finishes - silver, gold and rose gold. We've made a production partnership with COC (Creature of Creation) to handle the entire process.
Fabbaloo: Aside from the product design and production, how does CLAWZ differentiate itself from other 3D printed fashion services? What services and experience can a CLAWZ customer expect?
Chris: Initially, we'll only be releasing our own lines of nails but hope to collaborate with other designers and artists in the future. I reached out to American rapper, Lil Debbie, who is on board with putting out a collaborative line so she'll be the first to work with us.
Later down the road, we'll also be able to do more on the customization side of things. We'll have a handful of fonts available to choose from, allowing customers to add whatever messages they want on their nails.
Fabbaloo: When will the product launch? And what will we see at launch?
Chris: Now that we've secured our production partnerships, we'll be opening up pre-orders in February and hope to launch by March. The pre-order will be an exclusive line of CLAWZ in limited quantities and for March, we'll have 10 designs to choose from.
Fabbaloo: What happens after the launch? Will you branch out into other areas of 3D printed fashion, or continue developing new forms of 3D printed nails?
Chris: We're going to stick to nails after launch and continually improve our product. If all goes well, we'll be putting out new designs every 45 days! We don't have any plans to branch out into other areas of 3D printed fashion, but hope to collaborate with other designers to put out collections. I have this vision in my head where we put out a complete collection of jewelry to give women a full look.
Fabbaloo: Final question: Why are a bunch of Canadians running a 3D printed fashion business in far-away Shanghai?
Chris: It really comes down to 2 reasons: business moves a hell of a lot faster here and the industry is just that much bigger in China. In the months we've been in Shanghai, the opportunities that have been presented to us and connections we've made are just so incredibly powerful. It was also no surprise that the nail industry is bigger in Asia, but high fashion is as well.