As most of you know I put the eyes on all the dolls. I spend Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday’s sitting in my cozy chair meeting each doll and putting on their faces. I’ve had Bamboletta for almost 10 years now and feel so lucky that I’ve been able to narrow my ‘job’ down to thing I find the most fun .. bringing the doll ‘alive’. I’ve tried training someone else before on eyes – we always have training dolls around the shop (it takes a LONG time for someone to learn to sew the dolls) but, to be honest, I abandoned the effort because they just didn’t look ‘right’. They didn’t look like Bamboletta. I sort of get to a point where I think ‘Gah! It’s only me that can do the eyes! No one else!’ and ,well, that’s why I’ve been doing them for 10 years! I like looking over my eyes through the years to see how they’ve progressed and changed and the sort of ‘phases’ I go through with them. Sometimes closer, sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller and sometimes in between.
About a year ago I ended up in the hospital for a few days. The second thing I told John to do was to get the heads so that I can do the eyes for the dolls. Because of my rate of growth and because we now have so many women who depend on Bamboletta for their income – it’s on me to make sure the dolls are ready to go for the Friday uploads. I’ve never thought of this in a bad way – gosh – I just love how each doll comes out and putting on their sweet faces. Eep – there’s that point that I put on the little smiles that makes my heart go a flutter!
But, with 70 – 80 dolls going into each upload, it’s quite a bit of work. I also always have a basket of heads with me all the time that I work on during the week as well as doing the complete dolls – it’s just what I do! The thing is – I sometimes lay awake at 2am thinking ‘OMGosh – what happens if I break my arm?!’ ‘OMGosh what happens if I get really bad carpel tunnel and can’t move my fingers?’ and ‘Gah, I can’t really go on a vacation because I have to make sure the eyes get done.’. Like I said before – not complaining – this is just where I’m at right now. I sort of get freaked out once in a while about the what if’s.
Where the heck is this going, you may ask? During a little staff get away in Sooke a few weeks back we got to talking about what we can do about the face sewing and the obvious answer was Brandi! The answer to my conundrum is Brandi!! She has been working with Bamboletta for about 5 years now – first a few hours a week in my basement to now beyond full time at the studio. She is almost as in love with Bamboletta as I am and she’s really like a sister to me. For YEARS she been saying ‘OH – this is a really cute face!’ when she does the doll hair on Thursdays – so she knows a good face. So ,for a few hours per week, she’s been my Karate Kid and I’ve been her Mr. Miyagi. We have about 250 plus ‘booboo’ dolls – these are dolls that the gals trained on when they learned to sew, dolls that get stained, not stitched right, holes – whatever really – these are the dolls that I end up giving to hospitals and charity toy drives. (As a side note – I gave all our 2011 dolls away – these dolls are just from 2012). So, slowly but surely, Brandi has been going through these dolls one by one with me basically looking over her shoulder. Poor thing – every stitch is scrutinized – I’ve told her countless times to ‘Take it out and do it again’. And , sweet Brandi, smiles and tries her very hardest. She is doing such a great job – amazing actually – they look just like my eyes! She still has another 200 or so dolls to go through before she can help me with upload doll faces so this is her training. This will take months and months before she can do upload doll eyes but it’s the most important job at Bamboletta – it really is – and it will take time. There is no one more perfect to help me out than Brandi. It’s quite serendipitious actually.
So, what else does this mean? Well, Brandi is no longer doing Frock stuff or shipping stuff. My ‘Make it Hap’n Capt’n’ Brooke has taken over Frock stuff and customer service stuff. It’s so cool to figure out where everyone ‘fits’ as we grow .. nice to see where people can shine!
So, there we have it – the newest development at Bamboletta. This has been one of the biggest things yet – crucial to our sustainability – and it came about so perfectly and at exactly the right time. It’s yet another thing I am so grateful for with how Bamboletta has unfolded .. it’s never been with a plan, it’s always just ‘happened’.