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Small 3-D business wins six months free rent at mall

NILES — The same 3-D printing technology used in forensic science will be used by a small business startup at Eastwood Mall to create keepsake miniature figurines.

The concept for MiMe is to take a photo one day, create the figurine the next and have it shipped to the customer within days — all inside the nearly 1,700-square-foot space that formerly held Gymboree.

Owner Renee Malutic’s business proposal was picked from more than 20 in the mall’s Small Shop Showdown, a contest in which budding entrepreneurs competed to win six months free rent inside the mall with marketing and advertising support.

Malutic, of Youngstown, and her startup were introduced to the public Tuesday. The store will open July 22.

“I can’t even explain how much it will probably change my life and my world,” she said standing outside the entrance to the store that will be renovated to fit MiMe’s needs. “I usually get up every day and go to work for other people, but in this case, I’ll work for myself.”

With the process, 2-D photo images will be converted to 3-D models using a 3-D printer capable of mixing 16 million colors.

The printer lays ink and powder layer after layer to create the exact replica figure, which is then dipped in a solution to harden and brighten the colors, Malutic said.

The figurines can range from 3 to 8 inches in height and will average $114.

Malutic said she was introduced to 3-D printing through her work, and the idea was born through a conversation she had with a friend who owns a local engineering and design firm.

Malutic adjusted her plan when she learned of the mall’s contest.

“I changed the strategy a bit to have a storefront, which will now become our manufacturing headquarters for MiMe,” Malutic said.

Vince Gelonese, specialty leasing coordinator for Cafaro Co., which owns Eastwood Mall, said Malutic’s idea “really encapsulated” the concept of the contest — for the mall to act like an incubator to help grow a business.

rselak@tritboday.com

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