Dolls into Dollars
Special for CraftyChica.com
By Vicky Riley
Years ago while a mother of five children, four sons and one daughter, I did what I had to do to be a stay at home mom. Back then as now, the economy was bad, people were losing their jobs and their homes. When my husband also lost his job we were affected. While he was looking for more work, I worked at home baby sitting and selling a few craft projects at the annual spring or fall craft shows.
Times were tough, but my mother taught me that good comes from tough times. My mother also showed me how to make something from nothing. This is my story of how those tough times turned my inspiration into a business that still exist today.
I always had a love of sewing which was instilled in me at a very early age; I made my own clothes and was always looking for a new craft project. My daughter’s third birthday was fast approaching and I wanted to give her a special doll. I looked through my patterns but was unhappy with what I had. They all had flat faces and just did not meet what I wanted. I searched the stores and loved the vinyl baby dolls, so cute and cuddly looking, but they were so hard and cold. As the light bulb in my head went off I had a great idea!
Why don’t I just make my own doll? I could make it like the vinyl doll only from fabric, and that is just what I did over 28 years ago. My first baby doll was not so wonderful, but I did improve on my process and today I have my own on-line business called Dinky Baby.
I made and sold my dolls for over seven years which helped with the family finances. I was featured in the local paper as a stay at home mom with five kids who made dolls. I received orders from local stores and even from a rather large department store called Dayton’s. I had to turn that order down, it would be impossible to make 1,000 dolls in a month. Things were progressing quite well with my business and it created a good cash flow. If the kids and I wanted to go to a movie, I made a few dolls and delivered them to one of my customers.
Life moves on and things change, I tired from making my dolls and put my patterns away. I found out I had breast Cancer at the age of 42 and my life was turned upside down. After losing my oldest sold in a car accident just a few years earlier and getting a divorce so after, I thought my life was now over.
I needed something to be normal and so I pulled out my doll patterns. I needed to focus on something to get my mind off the Cancer. I decide to make 100 dolls and that is just what I did. I made 100 of my 24 inch toddler dolls to sell at an upcoming craft show. I had a purpose and I had a dead line to make sure my dolls were done in time for the show. I sold them all and made it through my Cancer treatment.
My dolls were always there for me like an old friend and they are still here for me today as I enjoy my children and my grandchildren. Back then I had just four patterns that I made dolls from and I still have those patterns today. They are a little tattered and faded but they were the beginning. Today I offer over 80 different patterns from 2 inch miniature dolls up to 24 inch toddler dolls. My designs also include a few animals such as monkeys, bears, lady bugs and pigs. I am inspired daily from fabrics I may see or from emails from my customers.
My life is wonderful because I get to play dolls all day long and earn a living while doing it. I never dreamed when I was designing one doll, that I would have the business I have today. Life is always going to through you curve balls, but it is what you do that makes the difference.
Vicki Riley has been designing soft sculpture dolls for over 25 years. She has her own online business and sells her designs around the world. Vicki also offers business opportunities to other stay at home moms. Visit her site at Vicki Riley has been designing soft sculpture dolls for over 25 years. She has her own on line business and sells her designs around the world. Vicki also offers business opportunities to other stay at home moms. www.dinkybaby.com