How Normal is Doing Something Extraordinary

By: Melissa Campanelli

Have you heard of Normal?

I knew very little about the company before I saw Nikki Kaufman, founder and CEO of Normal, take to the stage at PSFK’s Future of Retail event in New York City last Friday. Upon hearing about Normal in more detail, I was riveted.

Normal creates tailor-made 3-D printed premium earphones from its factory/retail store in New York City. The earphones are personalized to fit each individual user’s ears, as well as customized by each user. Orders can be placed via Normal’s mobile app (available on iTunes or Google Play) or in-store. Each pair is manufactured in Normal’s store and delivered anywhere in the U.S. in as little as 48 hours post-purchase.

Nikki Kaufman, CEO and Founder, Normal

Nikki Kaufman, CEO and Founder, Normal

At the conference, Kaufman talked about consumers’ increasing expectations for mass customization across retail channels.

“At Normal, we realize that ‘one size fits none,’ so we created a product that’s completely unique to everyone,” said Kaufman.

The idea for Normal came from Kaufman’s frustration with having so many ill-fitting earphones.

“I would travel and buy crappy pairs at airports, but they would hurt my ears and fall out at the gym,” said Kaufman “I wanted a custom pair, but when I looked into it, the process was way too intense for me. What I found was a process that involved a doctor’s visit, uncomfortable silicon molds, a six-week lead time, and a steep price tag ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars. I knew there had to be a better way to create high-quality, custom-fit earphones with a more accessible price and process for consumers. I knew there had to be a better way.”

One reason Kaufman was so optimistic may have stemmed from the fact that she was a founding team member of Quirky, a consumer products company that allows inventors to submit their ideas while also assisting them in the development process.

“I’d been around 3-D printers and advanced manufacturing techniques and processes, and I knew there was a way I could improve upon this,” she said.

What’s more, Kaufman said she believes retail will begin to shift towards more customization in the future.

“People want to purchase a product that’s uniquely built for them and their body,” she said. “At Normal, that’s exactly what we offer.”

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