Have you ever tried to make an idea happen only to find yourself hitting your head against a brick wall? This is what happened to me in January of 2010 when I first started Rag Dolls Rising.
Having been a graphic artist for many years it was not difficult to come up with a logo and other identity graphics for my business, but I had one visual that became difficult to obtain, professional photographs of my dolls with kids. It seemed like it would be helpful for people to see the scale of the dolls in children’s hands and would be a great marketing tool.
I called around locally, the photographers had the equipment but not the kids. I called modeling agencies, they had the kids but with a contract to hire them for a minimum of one day, plus make-up and wardrobe- yes, I am not joking, this was more of a commitment than I was ready for at the time. . . so I kind of gave it up.
October 2013, I receive an email from photographer Jessica Fitzgerald. Jessica had seen my dolls on Etsy and felt they would make a good addition to her children’s photography props. When I looked at Jessica’s work I was instantly blow away. Her images of kids in the sunshine with earthy tones was exactly how I pictured my doll, in a perfect world; in the arms of a child running through fields of grass. A connection was made, I would supply Jessica, (DBA Adella Photography), with a doll in exchange for professional photos. I absolutely love what she came up with, and how did she match the dolls dress to that wallpaper? I couldn’t be happier with the pictures that Jessica supplied to me. Visit Jessica’s facebook page to see more of her wonderful photography.
It’s Tuesday, John and I have finally unloaded the truck and car from the weekend Craft Fair. What an experience it was!
On friday we were allowed to set up our displays at
Continuing to set-up
Starting setup for the art fair
John, getting everything out
the Summerlin Community Park. We arrived around 11 a.m., found the closest parking space we could and checked in at the organizer’s booth. We were handed a packet with an artist parking permit and a map to our space. Next we unloaded the truck and began what was a very interesting weekend.
Saturday, just as predicted, was a clear and sunny day. The festival drew record crowds, which was good for us.
Sunday started out breezy, we soon realized why 200 lbs. of sandbags was a mandatory requirement for each tent. Keeping a sense of humor was important as my dolls flew off the shelves with gusting winds. John’s wooden boxes weren’t really effected so John was able to help me “hold down the fort” on my side. Around 1:00 things calmed down, we set the dolls back up to a sitting position, (we told the little ones they were taking a nap while it was windy). Then the sky started getting dark, and darker, and clouds, then RAIN! This time John was more effected as the hand rubbed finishes on his wood work did not take kindly to moisture. The vendor in the tent behind us peeked over and said “what next, locust?”
Clouds moving in
At the end of the weekend we had a great experience to look back on, and yes we did have good sales, we would defiantly do it again. Below are some notes to myself about what we did right and what to work on the next time
What we did right;
Make my shelving go all the way to the ground, eye level to a child is pretty low
Marked the price on every item
Let kids pick up and hug the dolls
Used Paypal Here to collect payments, worked very easy
Did some doll construction demonstrations at the tent
Things to work on next time:
Didn’t bring enough business cards, I had no idea how many I’d need.
Wrote the inventory number on the back of price tags, all of these numbers were confusing to folks.
Keep better track of what sold, spent a lot of time after the fact figuring this out, yes that’s what the inventory numbers were for which I forgot to write down.
Took too many tables, the one in front blocked our tent off
Bring a box of wet wipes for the kids who did chalk art and were eating cotton candy
I begin each new group of Rag Dolls in the same way, but it never gets old. The very first part is what I’m picturing in my head. When I’m out window shopping or just driving around, something like a fabric pattern or even the way someone is dressed will light the spark. While at the Christmas Goose, my favorite local fabric shop, I was picking up a small amount of fabric to finish off a custom order when a few paisley and plaid patterns crept into view.They were just screaming Cowgirl Rag Dolls!
Next I sit down with the fabrics, colored pencils and sketch pad. I like to keep each doll different but keep a cohesive group for three reasons.
They look cohesive when displayed together on my Etsy store or on a craft fair shelf.
Keeps thread color changes down to a minimum, so I’m spending more time on sewing and less on threading needles.
It just feels “Zen” to have a common bond in the group.
Next is putting it all together, which could take from 1 to 2 weeks. Taking the pictures for my online store is always fun! We decided to take some inside and a few outside because the weather has been so nice, 110 wonderful degrees, (we love the desert)!
I let them choose where they would like to pose and of course they all wanted to have the Cholla Cactus in the background.
Scarlet near the Cholla
I warned them about the cactus, the “Jumping Cholla” called that because even lightly touched, it will release it’s sharp needles. Things were going along very well- when it happened…..Dixie slipped out of her doll stand into the Cholla……
Dixie, attacked by the cactus
Luckily I had a pair of tweezers standing by and Dixie was very brave about the whole thing, but after that we all agreed to moved to another location to finish up the photo shoot.
It’s such a thrill when someone sends a photo of their child holding their new Rag Doll… but backing up to the beginning… after the initial idea of what a new group of Rag Dolls are going to look like I pick out the fabrics, cut out the pieces and start the construction process. Working assembly line fashion, because after getting machines and tools set up to make a certain part, it only makes sense to assembly all dolls I’m working on up to that stage at once.
After the dolls are stuffed I slow way down. Each doll is an individual, the hair, face, clothing details develop as I realize their personalities. I’ve been asked how long it takes to make a doll which is very hard to answer, I just keep working out the details until it’s complete.
O.K., yes I admit it, I talk to the dolls, especially when I’m packing them up to ship them, I tell them I enjoyed making them and that they are going to a wonderful new home, and when I receive pictures like these… it just make it all worth it, thanks everyone for the photos!
To say I was excited was an understatement! When I found out our Las Vegas Newspaper, the Review Journal, was going to run a story about the dolls (and me) I didn’t know what to expect. RJ writer Jan Hogan came to my sewing studio to do her interview on a Thursday morning, and I soon found myself feeling at ease. Jan asked questions about the process of doll making as well as why I decided to start this venture. About a week later photographer, Ronda Churchill came over to take some photos -
My husband John, took pictures of Ronda , taking pictures of me. This was definitely a fun experience!
This is Rachel, one of the new Rag Dolls Rising Premium Dolls. I didn’t mention it in the previous post but this is a new line in addition to the dolls we already have in our Etsy store. We call them Premium because they are sewn with speciality fabrics and take extra time for the wonderful accessories.
Anyway… Rachel came from a midwest family and had three brothers. Her father became a local hero when he saved the whole town from disaster, extinguishing a blazing fire at the local market with his garden hose.
Of course her three brothers became firemen, but Rachel had other plans.She moved to Las Vegas in 2005 to attend UNLV with a major in Microbiology. It was her dream to find the cure for a disease.
Although Rachel found a roommate her finances were holding her back from taking all the class that she wanted to. One morning over granola and green tea, her roommate, Julie, suggested she get a job dancing at the Tropicana Hotel’s Follies Bergere. She started in June of 2006 and loved it so much she decided to stay.
This is the first of the new rag doll showgirls, Sandy. I thought you might like to know more about her.
Sandy was lucky to have a very talented mother who loved all things to do with dancing. Many mornings Sandy would wake up to the most beautiful music playing on the giant record player in the middle of the living room. There would be her mother, gracefully floating across the oriental rug, spinning around in her ballet pointe shoes.
Sandy knew what she wanted to be when she grew up, and that was a dancer like her mom.
So began her many years of dance lessons which did eventually pay off.
As a young adult Sandy and her family moved to Las Vegas, which also payed off because Las Vegas is a great place for a dancer to live.
One day Sandy heard that the MGM Hotel , (at that time located where Bally’s is now on the strip),was holding auditions for their show, Jubilee!
She tried out and of course landed the part.
Sandy’s favorite part of the day is getting ready to go on stage, maybe someday you can see her show! If you can’t make it you can always see her in our Rag Dolls Rising Etsy store!
Sam liked her chores around the farm, especially when they included taking care of the animals. Every morning she brushed the ponies until their coats were as shiny as the kitchen floor after mom waxed it with the new Zamboni.
Every afternoon she flung fist fulls of grain into the rickety pens as the chickens ate it almost before it hit the ground.
But Sam’s favorite chore came every evening. She would fill a ceramic bowl with ice-cold milk and put it in the grass under the only tree in their little yard. Sam knew if she counted to twenty, Molly, the big orange farm cat would show up for dinner. . . continued next post