I get a lot of questions and funny looks when I mention that my small business which was started in 1995 is focused solely on dolls. You see my original college major was Fashion Design and I focused on dolls as they are fun and easy to make a wide variety of garments for. When I talk about the size range I get more incredulous looks since the smallest doll I have and have actually designed, drafted and sewn for is a 1/2″ baby doll. The next largest is 2 1/2″ tall and has a hand beaded gown. From there I move to 1″ scale dolls and go larger still into 6-8″ children dolls, 10 1/2″ lady dolls, Barbie of course along with Gene, Kitty Collier and finally my beloved Letha Marie who is 3 ft 10″ tall and wears a child size 3 shoe. A couple of my dolls I literally poured the porcelain for and created from scratch before I dressed them.
If asked in an interview about my dolls I will brag on them never ending as I LOVE my dolls and my sewing work in all those scales. Letha placed 2nd at the Anaheim Doll show, several outfits for my 1″ and 1/2″ scale dolls have been featured in magazines as well as my larger dolls. Two of my dolls won 1st and 2nd place at the Alaska State Fair and were featured in a magazine.
Why am I so proud of the doll business overall though? Each pattern, and there are 100 and counting, takes a large amount of project management. Choosing resources, designs, colors, dolls, fabrics and trims takes time. Budgeting for a costume plus determining the shapes of pieces, testing patterns, technical writing is involved in each pattern for step by step instructions. Some designs were done as custom items for customers and thus I had to work closely with each one to get the tiny details right.
Over the years I also had to learn photography as well as web design and development. I started by scanning my dolls since I didn’t own a camera but I had a scanner. Once I had a camera I started working on my still life portrait skills, they are dolls! I had to learn to edit photos and add them manually to a website. My original site was 50 megs and over 200 hand coded pages. I taught myself SEO and dabbled in Drupal, Joomla and eventually learned WordPress.
As for my books, those were herculean for me as I was also a new parent to an infant and then toddler which required a lot of time management and multi-tasking skills to go with the technical skills and all the testing and even book layout and production of the hard copies at first.
Why am I not still at this? I do it as a hobby now as it just will not support a family. I have totes of dolls and fabric and ideas filed away and when I find time I dig out a doll and start making something. I still work on my website when I can get a chance as well since I have photos and such that I still have not shared with the world.
Yes, my business is based on dolls but the skills used to create products as a one man shop are very transferable to a workplace. I use many of my time, task and project skills all the time at my previous job as well as at my current job.