Two new KC-area businesses help you take your selfies to the next level

The doobs watch you as you walk in.

And the doobs — including the Kansas City mayor, a handsome French bulldog, a family of eight — watch as you browse, looking for inspiration for your own doob’s pose.

There’s a man getting ready to throw his bowling ball; a woman pirouetting, her skirt caught forever in a twirl.

Doobs are 3D-printed replicas made out of resin polymer, created by Doob USA, which opened a shop June 7 in Overland Park.

“People are blown away,” said co-owner Malik James, who may be the reason for the mayoral replica on display — his father is KC Mayor Sly James.

He doesn’t want to take it too far but says, “It seems like almost the same type of response that people must have had when photographs first came out.”

Meanwhile at The Selfie Boutique in Leawood, people take pictures in front of backgrounds just made for Instagram. A sign just inside says you’re required to leave comparison, self-doubt, “-isms,” worry and judgment at the door.

“It’s like the epitome of our generation, I feel like, just because we’re such a social media, picture, selfie-based generation,” 20-year-old Maggie Brown, a student at the University of Central Missouri, said after her picture session. “This just wraps it up and puts a little bow on it.”

The two companies are part of a trend of taking selfies to the next level, 3D or not.

People, particularly Generation Z and millennials, want to show a certain life on social media, especially with Instagram and Snapchat, said Jason Dorsey, president of the consulting firm Center for Generational Kinetics. But they’re also looking for a way to memorialize their family, friends and pets.

“I think that we have a generation that’s really looking for things that are unique, experiential and, to some degree, lasting,” Dorsey said.

At The Selfie Boutique, owner Alex Altomare said he was inspired by people taking selfies at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

“The mission we came up with was to bring people together and create happiness,” he said as upbeat popular hits played over the speakers. “It’s really tough to feel self-confident and happy with yourself and find genuine, pure fun in the world today, and that’s really sad.”

At Doob, James said, the focus is on families. And they’ll work together trying dozens of poses before finding the one that works for their 3D replica.

The technology started in Dusseldorf, Germany, before branching to the U.S. As for the name, creators thought about using “Dupe,” as in duplicate, but realized that wouldn’t work. So Doob was born.

The Overland Park location, near Metcalf Avenue at 6511 W. 119th St., is the fifth to open in the U.S. You can book an appointment online, call ahead or walk in. Co-owners James and Nick Nikkhah tell you that once you step into the “Dooblicator” and are ready, 66 cameras take your photo simultaneously.

Those photos are turned into a digital file that is stitched together at the Doob lab in Brooklyn, N.Y. It’s then sent to the production facility, also in Brooklyn, where it’s printed in 3D and shipped back to the Overland Park store. James and Nikkhah look at the finished product and call you to pick it up.

Nikkhah said watching people pick up their doobs is easily the best part of the job.

“It’s like Christmas every day,” Nikkhah said.

The Selfie Boutique began as a pop-up store in December in Westport. The company hosted two more pop-ups before officially opening its Park Place location July 6. But for the most part, people aren’t actually taking selfies. Instead, customers are having their friends, even moms, take the pictures. Admission is $15, even for those just taking the pictures.

On one recent day, one backdrop was covered in $1,000 in pennies. Another area had a money tree with fake $100 bills for the leaves. Another corner was a ball pit.

At Doob, the prices vary depending on the size you want. The “buddy,” a 4-inch doob, costs $95 — that’s the smallest size. James said the most popular size is the 8-inch “doobie,” which costs $295. It also offers life-sized doobs for only $35,000 to $60,000. No one in the area has ordered one of those yet, though other Doob stores have sold those.

(A similar business, Lifeform Studio, opened in Leawood in 2014 but soon closed.)

Overland Park’s Doob is the only one in the nation with the 66-camera technology — the other stores in New York and California have a 54-camera system, though those will update soon.

Figuring out the pose is often the hardest part for customers.

“We’ve noticed across the board, people don’t know what to do,” Nikkhah said. “‘What do I do?’ We tell them, just do you. Don’t glamour-shot this and do something that normally is not you. We’re there to take 100 different poses until they get the look in the eyes like, ‘Yup, that’s the one I want.‘”

James and Nikkhah said they were surprised by the type of people coming in the store. They expected more people with more money.

“Our demographic,” Malik said, “is anyone who sees the value in having a photograph of something they care about.”

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