Have you ever wondered what made one of your favorite bloggers or sellers start their venture? Or what they do when they aren’t working on it? Me too! I thought it might be fun to periodically pick someone and ask them questions to share with everyone. First up in the hotseat: Maggie, owner of If Dolls Could Dream.
I first discovered Maggie’s shop in the fall of 2014. Friends had gifted me with an Etsy gift certificate and when I came across this little coat, I knew I had to have it!
When I received it, I was blown away by the craftsmanship, and it wasn’t too long after that I ended up purchasing some other items from Maggie. Since then, it’s turned into a bit of an obsession, I have quite a few of her pieces. I have loved everything I’ve purchased from her, and I’m sure I will be buying more before it is over with. And the best part is that over the course of these purchases, Maggie has gone from being just an owner of an Etsy shop I buy from to a friend. Does it get any better than that?!
Let’s get started. Questions in blue, Maggie’s responses in black.
How old were you when you first started sewing? And how did you learn?
I was 10 when I first started sewing. My mother taught me. She sewed most of her life and even made her own wedding dress. She is 87 now, but she can’t see well enough to sew anymore. I started by making doll clothes, and then started making my own clothes. By the time I was in high school I was making most of my clothes. I made my own prom dresses when I was a junior and senior. When my daughter got married ten years ago I made all the bridesmaids’ and flower girls’ dresses.
Why did you start making doll clothes?
As an adult, I started making doll clothes for my granddaughters’ dolls. I have four granddaughters. Three of them are very into American Girl dolls. I would make them an outfit for their birthday and make a matching doll outfit as well.
Do you ever make any human clothes? Or other sewing projects besides doll clothes?
I do make humans clothes, but only for family members. I have had requests from Etsy customers to make matching girl and doll outfits, but I have turned them down. The sizes of patterns do not match ready to wear sizes, so fitting is problematic. I have been known to make drapes, but I hate doing it.
What made you decide to start an Etsy shop?
I had not heard of Etsy. My daughter-in-law told me about it. She suggested that I set up a shop to sell doll clothes. I enjoyed making doll clothes for my granddaughters, so I thought making them to sell would be fun.
How did you come up with the name for your shop?
If Dolls Could Dream was not my first choice. I had a list of possible names, some of which I no longer remember. My first choice was Melina Grace. This is a compilation of my four granddaughters’ names -M for Molly, el for Ella, ina for Claire Alina, Grace for Rosalie Grace. I decided to use this for my user name on Etsy and then when I started to set up my shop I found I couldn’t use my user name for my shop. If Dolls Could Dream was a takeoff on “If dolls could talk”. I like the name and am glad it worked out.
Do you like to hem (human)pants? (I asked this because I hate to hem pants!)
This is a funny question. When my children were young I did women’s alterations from home. I pretty much hemmed pants all day while they were in school. This allowed me to be a stay at home mom while they were young. I could probably hem pants in my sleep! I don’t mind hemming pants, but I wouldn’t say I like it. It isn’t very creative.
What was the first doll clothing item you ever sold?
The first doll clothing items I sold were some Barbie doll outfits. One of my alterations customers asked me to make them for her daughter. The first American Girl item I sold on Etsy was a soccer uniform. I was surprised that it was the first item to sell from my shop. A grandmother bought it because it was the same color as her granddaughter’s uniform.
Have you ever finished something and liked it so much you couldn’t sell it but kept it instead?
I try not to get emotionally attached to the clothes I make but I do have a pair of jeans I made when I first started making American Girl clothes. After I finished them I decided I liked them too much to sell them. I use them when I want to photograph a shirt for sale.
Where do you get most of your ideas for doll outfits?
Some of my ideas come from looking at children’s clothing in stores. I figure girls would like clothes for their dolls that looked like things they would like to wear. Other times I see interesting fabric at the fabric store and start to think about what I could make with it.
Do you sell anywhere else besides Etsy?
I have a booth at a local craft show in November. That is the only other place I sell.
Do you remember the very first thing you ever bought from Etsy?
The first thing I bought from Etsy was some fold over elastic for the bathing suits I make. If I need supplies, I look on Etsy first to see if I can purchase them there. I buy quite a few of the embroidery patterns I use from Etsy. Etsy has worked out great for me, so I like to return the favor.
What are some of your favorite things to do when you aren’t sewing?
I enjoy reading, traveling, and spending time with my grandkids. Besides the four granddaughters, I have one grandson. He is almost four. My husband and I babysit for him one or two days a week while my daughter and son-in-law work. I love spending time in New York City. I love to wander around the garment district exploring all the unique fabric and accessories shops. If I didn’t have so much family here in Michigan, I would love to move to New York.
What is something that people might be surprised to learn about you?
I have an adventurous daughter that lives in New York City. A couple of years ago for Mother’s Day she gave me a gift certificate for a flying trapeze class. We took the class together. It was on the roof of a building (near Chelsea Piers). While hanging upside down on a trapeze I could see the new Freedom Tower. It was so much fun!! Not bad for someone who has recently joined the Medicare Club (I turned 65 last December).
Do you have any advice for someone looking to sell doll related items on Etsy or at another site?
My advice would be-don’t try to sell carbon copies of other peoples’ items. There should be something unique about your items so they stand out. Don’t make a large quantity of any one item until you see if it will sell. Make one and when it sells make more. Also, be patient. My shop was open for a month before I made my first sale. After that sales picked up.
A BIG thanks to Maggie for doing this, I really enjoyed reading your responses and getting some insight into your business! I’m so glad you were willing to be my guinea pig for the first post in this series.
So who is next? I don’t know just yet…but I do hope to do this type of thing every so often. It’s not going to be on a schedule, but I do hope to do several throughout the year. Thanks for reading, and be sure to stop by Maggie’s Shop and check out all the fun doll clothes she has!