Monomy: Japanese mobile app that lets you create accessories of your own design



See the original story in Japanese.

Monomy is an iOS app that offers an online marketplace for creatives, allowing people to make accessories they like with ease using smartphones. The platform was recently launched by Fun Up, the Tokyo-based company which has been running several online services since 2011.

We interviewed Eri Yamaguchi, the company representative, about their upcoming app.

Users can design accessories with over 1,500 parts

Eri Yamaguchi

The Monomy app enables users to design their own accessories by putting accessory parts together in your own style. Over 1,500 kinds of parts including rhinestones, natural gemstones and charms are provided in the app. More design-active users put up their accessory designs for showcasing on “Monomy MyPages” for other users. When one finds a design one likes, it can just be purchased by inputting credit card and address details.

The difference between trendy marketplaces for handmade goods and Monomy is that users only need to design the accessories they want. What happens is that Monomy takes care of the whole process from receiving orders through production in their own workshop. They can take large orders such as orders for 1,000 items and make them all in their workshop, with the accessories being made by experienced craftspeople by hand.

Yamaguchi explained:

The market for handmade items has been growing a lot recently with some items surpassing 1,000 orders a month. However, they are all handmade items so individual craftspeople make the accessories, meaning that even if they worked without any sleep, they wouldn’t be able to keep up with production; it’s not unusual to see items sold out or with a waiting time of several months.

Using the Monomy app, it takes about a week on average for a product to arrive after placing the order. The whole process is taken over by Monomy’s operation department so users can just enjoy designing and gaining their own accessory brands. The app offers a system where the item one wants to give someone can be delivered when one wishes.

The impression Monomy gives is one of femininity and cuteness, but its user interface is very simple. The main focus is on the user’s own accessory brands. The company aims to offer an app design and user interface that is reasonably simple so that their platform doesn’t distract users from the true function of the site.

Also, the key factor when representing real items and actions online is how to replicate the actual feel on a flat smartphone display. A good example is an electronic book reader which emulates reality by turning pages on books and magazines using fingertips. It is indeed a challenge.

Touching the app, you can see how well it has been made by gaining a feel of ‘making accessories by hand’: through use of a gaming engine with technology that can calculates truelife physics and replicates gravity, parts can be moved delicately using fingertips while naturally wobbling a little when parts are added. A lot of time has been spent to make this app, so the feel of making something seems real.

Yamaguchi added:

I think that the most important thing is for users to experience joy by making items and enjoy being part of the community before selling. There are some users that just silently design on the app when they can’t really get to sleep. We are aiming for a service where users get into designing so much that they can’t keep their hands from designing.

Building a platform for creating things

When Yamaguchi was studying at Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo and experienced purchasing and sales, product development and commerce business, she thought about challenging the apparel field one day by creating something new. She traveled around the world and visited parts of Asia including Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong for two years to conduct market surveys, enabling her to come up with the inspiration for making the Monomy app.

Yamaguchi elaborated:

It is not easy to find accessories that one likes in accessory shops and online in Japan. For example, without pierced ears even if what one finds and likes earrings if they are only for pierced ears, you couldn’t buy anything. Similarly if one is allergic to metals there is no alternative. There still isn’t a market that specializes in accessories, so it would be great if we could solve such problems through Monomy.

17 parts distributors are associated with Monomy; it has created its own system for receiving orders and delivering products without the risk of carrying stocks of accessory parts. By applying this system, it can lessen the burden on the user by making it cost almost nothing. Yamaguchi’s concept is to laterally expand the model by associating with production plants in Japan in a variety of areas, including made-in-Japan furniture, bags, glasses, nail polish and ceramics. Accessories are just the beginning.

Yamaguchi continued:

There are so many areas that cost too much from planning through to product sales at the shop. I could have made the name prettier-sounding than Monomy, but I gave it a name that is unisex, Monomy, to make it mean “starting a revolution” on ordinary production in the future. I hope to build a new ‘platform for making things’ which is closely intertwined with production plants and general consumers.

Community building first, group buying in the future

Monomy is going to add more functions like following users or items. Another function is trying-on items to let users find what they want. For promotions, the plan is to utilize Fun Up’s existing business, influencer marketing, while mulling brand development through reader models and bloggers. Also, the plan aims to enhance the community by holding a contest for posting accessories that suit the new releases of popular brands.

After establishing the community, introduction of a group-buying and incentive system is on the drawing board. Currently the scale has difficulty handling orders that take time and effort. Group-buying could allow a certain number of people who want the same products during a period to decrease the cost per item as they’d be made in bulk, allowing items to be offered at reasonable prices.

Accessories where the cost price is cheap can be halved in price if the number of items being produced increases to 20. If the number of buyers increases, then the price could decrease by 30% to 80%. We are considering something where any user who post their designs could be given incentives in the future.’ Upon launch monomy is just an MVP (Minimal Viable Product).

Yamaguchi says.

The focus is on user experience first, so ‘users can enjoy designing accessories and Monomy can receive recognition’; the next move will be deliberated upon a look at user reactions and feedback, she added.

If you make the design and deliver it, then that limits how much they can produce and how many people would want to do it. But Monomy’s ‘design only’ business model can allow more things to be made. We look forward to the feedback from people and how many ladies will go for Monomy.

Translated by Chieko Frost via Mother First
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy and Masaru Ikeda