The Yorktown, N.Y. funeral director who opened a 3D printing business to give something joyous to the community that supports him has been blessed in return. Mini 3D ME has been so successful that owner William La Pierre is opening a store front in Yorktown next month.
"Of course we're a beginning business so there are always struggles, but things have gone well and now we can open the store," Mini 3D ME Executive Director of Public Relations Chelsea Waller said.
Part of the secret of the company's success is expanding its clientele base. To be precise, Pierrehas teamed up with many of the summer camps in WestchesterCounty.
The campers get their heads scanned and La Pierre prints them on a generic, pre-designed body of a boy or a girl. By scanning just the head, Pierrecan drop the price from $270 for a six-inch figurine to $175.
"It makes it affordable for the campers and it's a unique and fun way to have a memento, rather than just a picture," Waller said.
Aviva Drescher of Bravo's TV show "The Real Housewives of New York," is another client. She's hired Mini 3D ME to scan her and print a figurine for her book signing tour and the company will also scan Drescher, her husband and their four children for a 3D printed family portrait.
The statue of the family of six will be placed in front of a background and presented in what is known as a shadow box.
"Of course she wanted a background of New York City," Waller said.
One of the key demographics La Pierre had in mind when he opened the business last October is engaged couples looking for customized wedding cake toppers. That aspect of the business didn't take off at first, but it has since picked up after Waller and La Pierre began hitting bridal shows.
"They are usually worried because they don't want the groom to see the bride's wedding dress before the wedding day, so we tell them to come in separately on different days so there is no chance they will see each other," Waller said.
Waller was recently at a bridal show and asked a bride-to-be who the groom was? The bride explained that she was getting married to her girlfriend and asked how Waller would feel about making a cake topper for a same-sex couple?
The couple has their personalized, 3D printed cake topper.
"We thought that was really unique because we are open to everybody and we support every kind of love," Waller said.
A second-generation funeral director and first generation tech geek, La Pierre started Mini 3D ME to make happier mementos for the neighbors he's lived side by side with for over 40 years.
Waller figures the company has been successful in that regard as well.
"For instance, we are actually donating a free figurine for a fundraising event for the Foundation for Excellence in Yorktown Education," Waller said. "The purpose of the event is to raise money for special programs in schools."
La Pierre's funeral business is not connected to Mini 3D ME. Patrons cannot get 3D prints of deceased loved ones.