Turn it Around …

As many of you know already, I’ve been vending dolls over at Granville Island for the past few months.  It’s been an interesting venture. I really love meeting and seeing my customers (I dislike that word so much – it’s honest to God like visiting friends when you guys come here!). There are literally hundreds of people coming through here every day – Granville Island is a place almost every visitor to Vancouver comes to. We get lots of locals but also LOTS of tourists come through. When I used to vend my dolls, all those years ago, I would sell at Farmers Markets and Craft shows – where it was a different kind of ‘customer’ – people who came to support local and handcrafted goodness. Here, at GI, it’s a tad different… there is definitely the people that appreciate what we do but then there’s another kind of person ….

You ladies know when someone on the Facebook wall comments on how expensive and how crazy it is that dolls cost SO much?!! They just don’t get that these dolls take hours to make and that the materials are of the best quality aka expensive. They also don’t know of our labour practices – that my sewing mamas are all local and are paid well and fairly for their work. It seems like sometimes people like to talk about wanting ‘Made in Canada’ or ‘Made in the USA’ but do not understand the costs involved with doing so. Anyhow, when someone makes these comments online, usually a whole bunch of you will jump in and talk about all these things and Brooke will go and try to explain things as well. It actually makes me ill to read the mean comments so I usually just leave them alone (remember the one ,not so long ago, where the lady said the dolls should be filled with cocaine!! for the price they are?)

Well, here, I’m getting those kinds of comments to my face by some people who are obviously offended that my dolls cost what they do.
Man, yesterday ‘These dolls cost $220??! What!! It’s a DOLL!’
Myself ‘Ahh, yeah Sir, they take about 10 hours and are stuffed with wool and made with natural materials.’
Man (and I am NOT exaggerating here) looks me up and down and says ‘YOU make $22 an HOUR??’
Myself , super flustered and all red faced with shock ‘Ah, no, I wish! – the materials are very expensive , blah, blah’
Man just walks away .. not even listening

or this gem..
Lady ‘I’ll give you $5 for this’ (I was selling some pocket dolls for $10 a piece)
Myself (a little taken a back) – ‘They are $10″
Lady ‘These are not worth $10 – do you really think you can charge that much for this?’
Myself – I actually sort of burst into tears and ran to the bathroom.

Then there are the hourly ‘AH! for a doll?!?’ looks and comments. It’s bizarre – it’s like getting talked about behind your back but right in front of your face! It’s like you do not exist. And you have to understand, these are people who have no experience or understanding or even want to know about what goes into these – they are coming in usually from cruise ships from port to port – I am no different to some of them then the person downtown selling 4 tshirts for $20 (not that I am a better person or anything like that – it’s just that they are selling an imported item, different sort of thing) . I try to keep this in mind but DANG, it’s hard to keep positive sometimes. It’s like you can get 100 great comments but you cling to that ugly bad one for dear life. I think that the ugly comment is a reflection of any sort of negative thought you have about yourself.

On Thursday I had had enough – I was done. I’m here for 10 hours at one time in an intense retail situation – talking and talking all day. I do well, we sell dolls, but I know if I put them on the site they’d sell too. I wanted to do GI to meet people, get out of the studio and be inspired amongst other artisans. I got talking to Michelle (fellow artisan) about this and she said that in this market you either develop a thicker skin or it wears you down raw. Then I talked to Helen who is an incredible photographer and salesperson. She actually made me roleplay out scenarios pretending she was the customer. So, instead getting all defensive when people questioned the pricing she gave me the advice on agreeing with them. So now it goes a little like this ..

‘Whoa! $240 for a DOLL?!”Yes, it can seem expensive for some – we aren’t used to seeing dolls for that price. However, these dolls are all one of a kind creations that take 10 hours to create. I believe strongly in using only the best and safe materials for children – which is expensive!’ I have more if someone looks interested, but that’s my ‘line’ now. Joelle, who makes soap, get’s these comments too (everyone in here does) and simply looks people in the eye and says ‘It’s not for everyone’ – I can’t do that one because it comes off a bit to snarky for me – but it’s a goodie!

Since this ‘revelation’ I’ve had the BEST time here (like even when I don’t have my friends coming for a visit!)- something had clicked and those comments roll off my back. I don’t think it’s that I’m going to develop a  ‘thicker skin’ but I’m certainly not going to let this wear me down raw.









27 responses to “Turn it Around …”

  1. Kat Thornton Avatar
    Kat Thornton


    Gosh, people can be thoughtless and rude! And here I am, in Minnesota, wishing I could take the place of one of those people, to get to meet you and the girls and see the dolls in person (whether it be at Granville or at your shop at Cowichan Bay).

    I think your kind heart is a significant part of what makes this company so amazing. I’m glad that you found a way to help you “turn it around” without becoming jaded, as so many people do.

    Never forget that you have many people that love what you do and support you fully.


  2. Rosemary Avatar

    Hugs Christina– it sounds like its been a whirlwind of a long weekend for you, both stressful and fun. Nobody deserves rudeness nor is there an excuse for it. I’m glad you are being supported by dear friends and being the bigger person by learning to deflect the negativity. Best wishes for a relaxing week ahead with some nice yummy hot tea.

  3. Tara Avatar

    People need filters. Or the ability to know in their head how rude they might sound saying things like that out loud. 🙁 I make cakes, I’ve had many people tell me I’m too pricey. People pay thousands for customs cars, homes, computers, why not pay what a custom doll, or a custom cake is worth (can you put a price on the love that goes into each one???)

    Glad you were able to get some tools to help you make it through 🙂

  4. Adrianna Avatar

    Christina, I’m so sorry that people feel that they have the right to judge the price of your beautiful work. I have never once felt bad about paying “that much” for any of our Bamboletta dolls. I love your work and all that you ladies do. You are all so generous and kind. There are people who just do not and will not understand. I had a friend see me comment on your wall once and then asked me why I would spend so much on a doll. I was also offended for you, as I know just how priceless, gorgeous, and unique these dolls are and how much happiness they bring to me and my daughter. You can’t really put a price tag on that. If I didn’t think they were worth it, I would not have as many as I do. I also love to support fellow Canadians and mothers. I think it’s hard to have a tough skin when you are the type of person that you are – I get it. But, keep your head held high – these dolls are AMAZING creations and you have many people all around the world who think so. Lots of hugs! Keep showing off your work and be proud!

  5. Shruti Avatar

    Hugs Christina! All artisans (doll makers included) work hard. I know coz I’ve tried making my own doll… Out of cheap materials, I might add. It was still expensive to make and took a loong time. Definitely 10+ hours.

    Good for you for developing a positive outlook on this kinda feedback. I bet these ppl who were shell shocked at the prices will start looking into Waldorf dolls now, maybe with the idea of “hey, maybe I should start selling $200 dolls!” I hope they try making 1. And seeing first hand what goes into it – costs of supplies and labour and love and attention!

    If I could afford to, id buy one of each model from you! Maybe once I sell enough of my dolly knits 😉

  6. KristinaS Avatar

    What about – ” if you put in all the time, materials and costs I really should be charging more ” Don’t let them bother you – easier said than done , I know, but we love you, love what you do and love what you share. If I could I would have a village of your dolls! I still need to add a cuddle doll and maybe a few more little buddies!!

  7. Barbara H. Avatar
    Barbara H.

    Oh sweetie, I never thought about that aspect of your time at GI. How hard that must be and it just breaks my heart for you that people can be so insensitive and make you feel like that. Just remember that for everyone of them, there are loads more of “us” that totally “get” the value of a Bamboletta far beyond the dollars and cents of it. Willow and I “get” it so much that even though we are able to purchase more then our fair share of Bambo’s online, we also have a crazy dream of meeting you someday and buying one in person- we have an envelope set aside that I stash money into for a trip for us to BC someday. Your dolls are priceless to us and the love that you and your gang put into them makes them invaluable! Chin up momma! <3

  8. Danica Avatar

    I adore the pants off of you woman

  9. Andrea Avatar

    I get that. I worked in retail for years, sometimes people just suck. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling or what you’re charging, someone will find a reason to complain.

    I think that part of what people don’t understand is that a lot of the mass produced toys they see in stores are made in sweatshops. No one wants to think about that when they drop their $40 for a doll.

    Maybe put up a sign that says, “OOAK handmade dolls. Made FOR children, not BY children.” 😉

  10. Judith Avatar

    You know I’ve been to Vancouver many, many times and have never made it to Granville Island. I keep promising myself “one of these days” I will actually go, but now the draw is because I want to see you and all the dolls together. I have three of your dolls now and think they are worth every penny. They are beautifully made, all unique and my grandaughter loves them, which is worth it to me. In addition I have a knitting addiction. Therefore I know what good materials cost, what time costs, and how people think it is crazy that I buy wool to make socks that can cost (sometimes) as much as $40.00. They like to remind me that I can buy socks at walmart for $2.00 a pair. But thats because they just don’t get it and unfortunately they don’t knit and/or don’t have someone who loves them enough to make something so special for them. Hold your head high my dear your product is fabulous!

  11. Maria Cook Avatar
    Maria Cook

    Hey Christina, I know what you mean, it is the same with the cross-stitch that I do, they do not realize the amount of work that goes into it and the time, especially the time. Hang in there, we are a special kind of people. Love, Zia Maria

  12. Belinda Avatar

    I don’t think anyone ever really appreciates the amount of work that goes into your beautiful dolls unless they are a crafter themselves. I make hand sewn miniature teddy bears, they are only a fraction over 3 inches tall, but still take 8 or 9 hours each – in fact I just finished my 100th bear today! 🙂

    I love my Bamboletta and the care that you and the sewing mamas put into every stitch, plus the quality of the materials you use and the attention to detail really shows through, I just wish I lived close enough to be able to visit in person… maybe one day – sigh.

    I’m so glad you’ve found a way to deal with the negative comments xxx

  13. Nikki Avatar

    I think a small brochure with your “what goes into our dolls” would be a good print out to have on hand. Maybe even a visual aid set up if you have the space of some of the materials and things.
    I really think that probably 50% of those people who are sticker shocked would be a lot less shocked once they realized what they were actually getting for their money.
    Look at AG dolls for instance. People pay more because of quality. No reason to not show off your quality which isn’t a factory in China.

  14. D Avatar

    To quote Seinfeld;

    Elaine “…People.” Jerry, “They’re the worst.”

  15. Michelle Avatar

    Hey, totally use your new spiel but also…imagine them in their underwear! 🙂 Love ya 🙂

  16. bron@babyspace Avatar

    oh, I really feel for you, I would feel terrible having people criticise the value of my product to my face.

    I also don’t relate to people feeling that it’s okay to question prices at markets in a rude way. if they don’t like it, don’t buy it! there’s no need to be rude 🙁

    your dolls are so beautiful and worth every cent.

  17. Janet Ya Ya Avatar
    Janet Ya Ya

    I’ve never been on a cruise ship…strikes me as an expensive excuse to walk on a floating city of people..strangers on a floating city in the ocean. Some people like THAT kind of thing…others like handmade sweet smiling dolls from Canada…WE love you! Be like a duck and water…let the comments roll off your back!

  18. Rosalyn Avatar

    You’re handling it well, with good advice and your own spin on the “script”. No matter what you do or how you do it, there will always be critics. I just wish I could visit and be one more of the good visits to help offset the negative ones! Keep your head up and keep educating those that are willing to listen. Brush the others off. I <3 Bamboletta Dolls!

  19. Anne Scott Avatar
    Anne Scott

    Ðear Christina,
    I visited you in the Cowichan valley on June 16 and was absolutely enchanted by the beauty of your workshop and the dolls. Please do not be hurt by comments that are only a reflection of the people who make them. It cannot destroy the love and care and whimsical spirit you and your team put into your dolls. I was taking two cousins from Scotland on an 18 day tour of BC (4,000km) when we happened upon your workshop and it remains one of my best memories of the whole trip. I am grandmother to two wonderful boys but maybe one day I will have a granddaughter. In the meantime I am saving to buy one of your dolls (cannot choose though). They are worth every penny!!! Keep following your dream and bring beauty into the world!

  20. Adriana Avatar

    I think the person saying those sorts of comments doesn’t understand economics. You cannot have an inexpensive item and expect great quality too. All I can say is my 2 year old loves her dolls, or as she calls them, her babies. I can see how her LB has helped her have a better trip away from home and Daddy ( we have been traveling to see my family for almost 10 days). Everytime she gets homesick, I give her her “baby” and you can see how it helps soothe her. You have a beautiful and meaningfull product.

  21. Laura Avatar

    You are a sensitive person. I am too…it is crushing to me sometimes when people say something mean or careless and I replay what they have said later in my own head. But it’s not healthy, I know. My little girl is the same way (highly sensitive!), and I try to encourage her to let things roll off her back. I suppose you never know what someone is going through or they may simply be a person without a good filter, but it is hard to hear comments like that. Your work is exquisite; the price is appropriate for a piece of art, essentially!

  22. Monique L Avatar
    Monique L

    What a bunch of douche bags! You’re amazing- big hugs!

  23. Ruth Dollinger Avatar
    Ruth Dollinger

    at first blush, the dolls do seem expensive for the average person. However, i think you are catering to a specific demographic of client, and there’s nothing wrong with that! Keep on going to GI. I am about to buy our first doll, either online or next week when you’re at GI again, and i would have never known about your company if I hadnt seen your booth there a few months ago. It is great advertising- i couldn’t buy a doll right on the spot when i saw it there, but I’ve had time to think it over and decide I want to buy this as a first babydoll for my little toddler. Don’t feel down over the brutal comments, just remember you are not going to reach everyone… so many people would be fine with buying a plastic doll for their kid for $10 at walmart… but there are some of us who are not fine with that… 🙂 thank you!!!

  24. jennJK Avatar

    Oh my goodness, what a bunch of rude people! They just don’t get it. (and they should keep their comments to themselves)

    My MIL was so excited to meet you IRL. She said you were very sweet and I have the note you sent me. 🙂 And I really wish I was with her on that cruise, I would love to meet you someday & tell you all sorts of nice things about your creations.

  25. Virginia Sears Avatar
    Virginia Sears

    Last week I ordered Jennalee for my grandaughter who is 4. Jenna had pastel multi colored hair with farie sparkles in it. Frannie got her doll and fell totally in love with her and changed her name to Frannie and took her to bed even putting night clothes on her to sleep in. These dolls are amazing and I am afraid that Frannie will want her hair the same as her doll! She is a very creative child.
    Thank you wonderful ladies and gentleman who make these dollw with much love.
    Virginia Sears

  26. Anita McCracken Avatar
    Anita McCracken

    I was just recently introduced to Bamboletta dolls and think they are adorable!

  27. Meredith Avatar

    I can imagine that hearing those comments would make you want to curl up into a ball and hide. But I am so glad to hear you are not going to let it scare you away from those that appreciate what you do and love your beautiful craftmanship and art. I am planning an entire trip next month…flying from Arizona – just to see you and your dolls in person at GI! So just remember for every nasty uneducated person there are 100 of us that simply adore what you do!

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