Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Here We Grow Again!

These two gals are the same… but different. The Mae on the left has arms and legs sewn by me on my little sewing machine and her face is hand embroidered. The Mae on the right has arms and legs sewn automatically by a professional machine and her face is machine embroidered. Yep! This little sweetie is high tech! lol

Rob and I have mentioned in past blog and Facebook posts that 2011 would be a big year with announcements planned for almost every month.  Well, this is another one - and maybe the most exciting announcement of the year (but the year's not over yet - <insert tease here>) Thanks to all of you, Bit of Whimsy Dolls has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last year. Growth is great! Keeping up with growth can sometimes be a struggle as we've watched dolls fly off the virtual shelves on our New Doll Thursdays. We simply can't keep the same old pace and meet the demand for Original Bit of Whimsy Dolls.  This is a great problem to have, but still a problem. 

Rob and I have spent a lot of time talking about how to scale to meet your demand for my dolls.  To help ease this pressure, I hired an assistant full time who helps me with cutting dolls, stuffing the arms and legs, shipping and listing items on my website. She is fantastic and helps me out tremendously. She doesn't sew. Much. Yet. lol I put an ad in the newspaper and interviewed several sewists… I was amazed at how many people did not take me seriously with one even going so far as to tell me "…I feel that your dolls and patterns are too simplified for my skill level… I am sure many other mediocre sewers responded to your ad.  I wish you luck with your adventure."  No Joke… she actually put this in an email. lol. We live in a very old community and most of the ladies that I talked to didn't think that you could run an international business from your dining room. I did hire someone but after a few weeks I came to the realization that we weren't a good fit. I am very passionate and I need someone just as interested and passionate as I am!  I put hiring on the back burner since we had a lot of traveling this spring and it would be hard to train anyone until we got home.

While on vacation in Georgia, we happened to visit A Scarlet Thread, an amazing fabric shop owned by an amazing woman named Karen. We got to talking…as Southern women do… and she gave us some great ideas to help us boost production. She introduced us to a great machine and talked to us about software capabilities that will duplicate my designs on the machine. We didn't buy a machine at that time, but Rob and I talked about it. A lot. Should we make such an investment?  Would it work? Would the quality that I demand be there?  We often seek advice from S.C.O.R.E. when faced with business turning points and after we talked to them about this machine, they asked us why we hadn't bought it yet. We bought it that day! It now sits in our dining room / Bit of Whimsy Dolls world headquarters lol.

In the past, I have looked into machine embroidery and have never liked it. There has always been something about it that I didn't like. Maybe it was how "perfect" it is or maybe it is the type of stitches that are used but I never liked it. I was really, really, REALLY nervous about the idea of switching to machine embroidered faces. I was not nervous about having the machine sew arms and legs for me, however! lol But the faces…. the faces need to be "just right". We contacted a few people to do the programming since we knew nothing about the software and designing, etc. We were excited to just get the machine going! We didn't like the designs that were coming back to us so Rob decided to give the software a go being the computer tech geek he is. I couldn't believe it when he showed me a sample of my hand drawn face sewn by a machine! Wow! The first one wasn't perfect, but showed a lot of promise.  After countless tweaks - add a stitch here, move this stitch over a little, yada yada - he nailed it!  I have to give Rob props for digging into this software and figuring things out! So even though the new dolls will be "high tech", they keep their handmade charm by still being directly based on my drawings. I honestly never thought it was possible until I saw a group of Mae's sitting together! For the next several months, there will be a mix of dolls with hand embroidered faces and machine embroidered faces and the descriptions will say what type of doll it is until we have moved completely over to machine embroidery.

So what does this mean for you? It means that I can provide more dolls for you! Wooohooooo! It means that I can keep my costs down while still providing an awesome product! Oh yeah baby! It means that I will have more time for custom orders! Yes! All custom orders will still have hand embroidered faces and the next three spots will open on Friday May 20th at 3pm Eastern!

Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the years! This has been an amazing journey so far and Rob and I are thrilled about this next path!

Monday, May 2, 2011

How to Purchase a Doll!

The only place to buy an Original Bit of Whimsy Doll directly from me is All of my dolls are one of a kind, named and numbered. They are just as unique as the children who love them! All of the dolls listed on my website are in stock and ready to ship.

I do not sell anything through my Facebook fan page but I do post a preview album on my wall so that my fans know what will be available in every website update. I update my website with new dolls every Thursday at 9pm Eastern with only a few exceptions. Sometimes I do have to push an update back a week but usually just for sick kids and holidays! Since I sell dolls to customers all over the world, I post a countdown clock about 3 hours before 9pm Eastern on my Facebook wall on Thursdays to help everyone with the time differences. This is an easy way to make sure that you don't calculate the time difference wrong!

I do accept custom orders on a limited basis. Custom dolls take a lot longer to make than regular dolls so I only open up a few slots at a time. These slots are also purchased on my website through a special Deposit listing. I always announce on Facebook first when these slots open and I try to give at least 24 hours notice to my fans before the Deposit listings are available!

I accept PayPal through my website but you can pay with a credit card via PayPal without actually having a PayPal account. It is easy to use and secure!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May's BOWD Cause - Cystic Fibrosis & Great Strides

Bit of Whimsy Dolls Friends, it is our honor to announce that we have partnered with another wonderful organizer for a great cause.  For the month of May, we will be raising awareness and donating 10% of all sales on our website to Great Strides, the largest national fundraising event for Cystic Fibrosis (CF).  

Now admittedly, Rob and I knew next to nothing about CF prior to having this disease suggested to us for support, but after looking into CF to understand more about this disease and the Great Strides organization, it is our honor to forge another wonderful partnership and we think you too will feel the same sense of curiosity we had.  On behalf of everyone at Great Strides, Rob and I would like to thank you for your support this Month for Cystic Fibrosis and Great Strides.  Below is a brief story written by our partner, Amy Rovai, Chairperson for Great Strides, Sacramento, CA.  

Meet Taryn and Taya! Taryn  is three and Taya just turned one! They are your average sisters- they love to play together, enjoy swinging at the park, and love to dress in anything that is pink and frilly! Looking at them, you would never guess that they are suffering from a life-threatening disease that has no cure… but they are. Taryn and Taya both have Cystic Fibrosis. 

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide). People who have CF spend much of their day taking medicines to help deal with infections, enzyme pills before snacks and meals, multiple breathing treatments to help open airways, and chest therapy to help loosen mucus trapped in their lungs.  They have to be very careful about germs and bacteria, since they are more susceptible to illnesses, and have to fight harder to get rid of them. 

In the 1950s, few children with cystic fibrosis lived long enough to see their 5th birthday. Today, advances in research and medical treatments have further enhanced and extended life for children and adults with CF. The current median age for survival is 37, and new research and treatments aimed at targeting the underlying defects of CF, are hoping to extend patients’ lives so they can live longer, healthier, happier lives.

For more information about Taryn and Taya, or the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, please visit: 

Thank you so much for your support!