I have some pretty huge news. Huge for me – life change news kind of stuff. I’m closing down our Whippletree Studio in May and moving to Vancouver. Doll making will stay with the lovely sewing mama’s on the Island but myself, and my family are moving back to Vancouver. In case you aren’t familiar with west coast BC geography and are new to Bamboletta – currently I live and work on Vancouver Island which is about a 2 hour drive and a 2 hour ferry from Vancouver. I moved to the Island from Vancouver about 8 years ago.
It was a series of events that have pushed me to this decision. I’ve had a pretty tough few years with both my father and mother being seriously ill. It hurt my heart not to be there to drive my mom to appointments or spend time with my dad by his bedside while he waited in the hospital. I’m so close to my parents and these events took their toll on me. But I’m not in a position to just take time off – I have an immense obligation to Bamboletta, to my team that rely on this(me) to feed their families. Also, I am the sole provider for my family and ,well, with everyone to pay and all the expensive supplies, it’s a tight ship to say the least. I am so heavily involved in the creation of the dolls that if I disappeared for a while, everything would shut down. Thank God I had Brooke and Brandi to handle it all with me – to essentially become extensions of me so that we were able to make as many dolls as we did with the joy and love that the dolls deserved. Then Brooke left just before Christmas to live closer to home and be with her family. She still handles some online customer service stuff but the rest of her work fell on me. Then, about 2 weeks ago, Brandi told me that she wanted to leave to travel and be free of any obligation. That felt like a big punch in the gut. As a friend, well like sisters really, I TOTALLY get it – she is at a point in her life where she is finally free and I’m so happy for her. But as a boss who relies on her to oversee what goes in and out and spending so much of my time over the years teaching her how I see what I see – SO many little details – the news was devastating. And exhilarating. Really, really exhilarating. One thing I’ve learned in business over all these years is that when it all seems to hit the fan, there’s something really fantastic around the corner. The trick is to stay open and trust.
Although Brandi is leaving, she’s not really leaving. She will still do doll noses and come to Granville Island when I have markets. Almost everyone who has moved or left still has some part in Bamboletta – it really becomes a part of you.
The day I found out about Brandi I was talking to a good friend who happens to be an amazing coach. ‘So, now what?’ came up. Hmmm, now what? I can’t keep production up to our 80 or so dolls per week without Brandi – it would take me a long time to train someone to replace her. I knew immediately that I could not physically do any more then what I do now – after Brooke left I was working more then I ever have in my life and it was starting to take it’s toll on me. Thankfully Bran gave me a few months notice so nothing immediate had to be done. ‘What about Vancouver?’ Chela had been listening to me lament about wanting to move back for the past year. My family, my friends. the city – I missed it all so much. Then the light went off in my head and I felt this expansive freedom – yes, Vancouver! She then told me that the apartment she was moving out of was still not rented and it is exactly in the area I want to be in (east Van – my old stomping grounds and in the catchment for the school I want the boys to attend). I called the landlord and ,just like that, I had a place to live.
I won’t bore you with the long account and revelations around keeping the dolls being made on the Island but that’s what is going on. Audrey, Jes and Andrea are incredible and have been with me for a long time – they will handle the sewing mamas, dyeing, cloth sewing. These ladies are amazingly talented and have surpassed me in the technical skills of making an incredible doll. We will be creating about half the amount of dolls per week and I will do the faces, upload and ship from my home studio in Vancouver. Twice a month I will come over to the Island and do all the aesthetics – hair bundles, pick up dolls, deliver fabrics to be sewn into clothing, make sure everything is running well – making sure the overall ‘Bamboletta – ness’ of my dolls stays the same.
Less dolls for me feels super right. I can pick up my kids, be there for my family and be in a city that makes me thrive all while still doing what I love to do most which is to create the dolls. This has been one of the hardest and easiest decisions of my life. Hard in the details (the who, what, where – and moving a 2700 sq foot studio PACKED with stuff) and hard in leaving my studio (I LOVE my studio) – but easy in how the answers and solutions have flowed to me and how it’s just happened. But then again, I should not be surprised by this at all. This business has always flowed in an organic way.
So, starting in May there will be less dolls available. I’m aiming for about 40 a week and still do the Monday, Wednesday and Friday uploads (I love the smaller uploads). I will be working out of my home (John and Acorn will stay on the Island for the next year while he does a course) until I find the perfect little studio spot. I’ll do the uploads, faces, hair, styling – all the fun stuff that I love most. I want time to devote to work with women’s shelters teaching doll making classes and I do more of the philanthropic stuff that makes my hear sing. I’ll have time for my family, to blog, to do some workshops – oh man – so much time is opening up for me I’m so excited!
Totally didn’t think this would be such an epic blog post. Thank you – all of you – for loving my dolls all these years and seeing the ebbs and flows of my business. I’m excited to have you all along to share this next chapter of my story – who knows what it’s going to bring?