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Look What I Made: The Continuing Rise of DIY Design Online

69% of Millennials wish they could create a new product, and 81% of Millennials would be interested in helping a brand or company design a new product. Thanks to years of increased access to open-source technology and participation in a growing maker’s culture, Millennial consumers want more: more options, more uniqueness, and more say in what they buy. Now, everything from shoes to cars can be consumer customized, making consumer involvement an expectation, not the exception it was in the past. They have a desire to play an active role in creating products, partially for the satisfaction of making it their own. Customization has evolved far beyond picking the color of their iPod. They don’t just want customized products, they want to have a hand in creating their products. While true pre-dev engagement is mainly flourishing on sites like Quirky, DIY online design is letting them feel the creative involvement they crave, and smaller niche brands are providing a version of the pre-dev playground Millennial consumers are looking for. Here are some of the sites, apps, and brands letting them feel like they made it themselves: 


On Threadless, you can vote on the t-shirt designs that will make it into production. On Modcloth, you can “Be the Buyer” and vote on the designs that the site will create and stock. But it’s hard to find a place that you can actually design your own clothes—unless you are looking to make some soccer team tees. Snaptee is the answer to the aspiring designer in young consumers everywhere, allowing for unique tee creation, all through a simple app. Available on both iOS and Android, the free app lets users import any image of their choice, add a filter, new coloring, text, and anything else to make a professional looking graphic design. If they want, users can then publish their creations and make them available for sale to the rest of the Snaptee community. Snaptee knows that ”being able to hold one’s own creation brings true excitement.” They’re not just selling clothes, they’re selling the thrill of being a creator. 


Millennials might be able to find the food they want in gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and a host of other options we haven’t even thought of, but so far, few companies have let them actually create their own personal food products. MixMyOwn makes cereal a personal experience, letting consumers mix their own blends of healthy breakfast granola with the ingredients of their choice. Founded by a couple driven for their passion for healthful breakfast foods, MixMyOwn provides the ingredients and puts the recipe creation in the hands of their customers. Visitors to the site start by picking their own grain base, and then add as many fruits, nuts, seeds, and extras like cinnamon and protein powder to their creation. MixMyOwn also provides recipes and tips for visitors to turn their personalized granola into even more personalized treats.

For Millennials, wearing watches isn’t about checking the time, but about making a fashion statement. And if they’re going to make a statement, it’s more and more likely that they want that statement to be say something personal about them. May28th provides the tools for anyone to design their own watch, from the material of the band to the color of the buckle. But the most personalized element is fittingly the face: visitors can choose from provided images, upload their own photos, or tap into their Instagram galleries to find the perfect design to be printed on the watch’s surface. The site just introduced kids’ watches to their collection, so even the underage set can create their own accessories.


Instagram has become more than an image sharing site: it’s also a huge gallery of personalized art that smart companies are accessing to let consumers put their personalize everything from pillows to stickers. But Boomf might be the first brand to use those filtered masterpieces to create some edible mementos. Boomf prints users Instagram images onto marshmellows. Yup, marshmellows. After connecting to their Insta accounts to the Boomf site, visitors can pick nine of their photos to be used to create their own gallery of gooey treats. Perfect for the Millennial who wants even their hot chocolate to contain an element of their own design.