South Korean native Sun-Min Kim sewed the very first Uglydoll, bringing to life a character her then-boyfriend, David Horvath, drew at the end of a love letter. The couple met at the Parsons School of Design in New York, and were separated after Sun-Min’s student visa expired in 2001.
David showed the original doll, Wage, to a retailer, who placed an order for the dolls, which sold out in a day. Sun-Min personally made the first 1,500 of the dolls before they found a manufacturer and developed a business. The couple took a chance on a booth at the International Toy Fair, where the dolls were a hit.
Sun-Min and David married in 2005 and live in Los Angeles. Today Uglydolls are a popular item among kids and adults, with dozens of characters and a line of related books and products. There’s even work being done on an Uglydolls movie. Their company, Pretty Ugly, is based in Green Brook, New Jersey, has a dozen employees, and has amassed more than $100 million in sales over the past decade.