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Money & Sense

Let’s admit, we all do it. we question where the money goes and why, all the time. How often do you find yourself price shopping trying to find the best deal? Why? To save a little money of course! However, when it comes to art, it’s a bit different. I often find myself at a museum or other places looking at something I no nothing about and say to myself, “They charge THAT MUCH for that?” Not at all looking at the big picture. Seeing all the sacrifices, time, energy, and money that got that piece of art there in the first place. 

Because of those reasons, I want to be transparent with all of you. I want to educate and share what goes into making just one doll. The commitment, time, and money we pour into this art. creating hyper-realistic art dolls for not just our collectors to enjoy but, our Alzheimer’s community.

Let’s break the cost down and see just how expensive everything can be and how it adds up. All to make one doll.

In my case, I use a heat set paint, specifically called Genesis Heat Set Paints. So the first expense I needed to invest in, was a dedicated oven. Soley for baking the doll parts in (currently I now run up to three ovens at any given time). There is also the cost of the liners and extender rings. Don’t forget we will need a pad for the parts to cool on. When we bake our heat set paints, they omit off a very toxic chemical. So I also needed to make sure I had very good ventilation. Lucky for me we have a special HVAC air purifier. All of that equates to dollars needed not just for the supplies but also the electricity and or gas to run.

Unfortunately, they no longer make the paint I currently use. So, I’ll need to invest in the new line when I run out of paints. The new replacement paint for one color of a 25ml jar (which translates to less than an ounce of paint) costs on average $27 each. I also need the different mediums and varnishes. In addition to paint, I need to use thinner. I specifically use, Mona Lisa Odorless Paint Thinner, which you can buy off of Amazon for around $17. I also use baby oil (only a couple of drops in the mixtures I create). 

Then we need our tools. Latex-free Cosmetic Wedges are a must. I like ordering mine from Amazon. I spend about $15 for 6 packs of 32. You will also need paper towels and cotton swabs for about $6. You can get almost everything on Amazon. (I have attached the affiliate links for you, if interested in learning more.) You will also need your brushes. I like to use several different types. EcoTools makeup brushes are great for doing dry brushing. They run about $8 each. Mixing brushes will last forever, and cost about $10 for 60 off of Amazon. Nail art brushes make amazing detailing brushes and will run you about $8 for an 8-pack (which I found as a great deal)! You can’t paint without palettes and jars to store unused pre-mixed paints.

Now that we have the tools to paint a doll we will need tools to root and assemble dolls. Rooting needles run about $1.19 for each needle. The hair you will be rooting costs about $36 for .50oz for one color. I use anywhere around 5 different colors or shades and types of colors, to capture the realism of baby hair. Sometimes it can be difficult to root some dolls or hair colors. The use of a heat lamp in the head is extremely helpful! Again I found mine off of Amazon. And you definitely will struggle with rooting unless you use a Magnifying lamp. I have two in my setup. One for rooting and one for painting. I ended up finding my lamp at Menards but, it is also available on Amazon for about $50.

I specifically use several components when assembling our art dolls. Of course, you will need the doll’s body, eyes (if awake), zip ties, nylons, glass beads, polyfill, plugs, rings, magnets, felt, glue, scent wafers, diapers, bodysuits, and more. Added up, costs an average of $130 (on the low side). I like to finish off the doll by embroidering our dainty purple heart logo on the chest of each doll, signifying we do all of this for the love of our Alzheimer’s and dementia community. 

Then it’s time to take their photo shoot. Requiring the photography gear, props, setup, cropping, and watermarking. Again this equals lots of time and money.

Lastly, it’s time to send our beautiful art doll home. When sending our dolls home we will include a keepsake box to store your baby in, a cozy soft baby blanket, two to three outfits from our boutique including their homecoming outfit, a magnetic pacifier, clip and or a toy, and maybe a few other goodies. All of this averages about $150.

So far we are up to about $280 just to create one doll. Remember the electricity and gas it costs for running the ovens, lights, magnifying lamps, heat lamps, computers, printers… Then we have to pay for the internet service, website, and all the website components for building, selling inventory, and marketing. Don’t forget the shipping costs we pay for all those supplies. Just the website portion runs about $400 a year to keep everything up. Oh yeah, then there is that lovely bill for the tax adjuster to do the taxes… It all adds up quickly!

It takes about 6-8 weeks for me to create a doll and possibly another 4-6 to root. Let’s do the math. If I worked an average 7-hour day about 6 days a week, for 8 weeks. That equals about 336 hours. Yes, I know it is not all spent on the one doll (and honestly I work way more than that). However, if I’m only charging a minimum of $550 and only doing a couple of dolls a month that’s a total of $1,100. Now take that profit and divide it by how many hours I work. I’m barely making $3 an hour. That does not include if I need to root a doll and the total costs for any of the overhead. 

Remember that monthly profit of $1,100 on two dolls? Now let’s deduct the expenses for the two gifted babies costing a total of $560 to make (we gave to the Alzheimer’s community) and the overhead costs of $560 to make the two dolls we sold (for a minimum of $550). That equals $1,120 needed to make four dolls. We end up contributing $20 every month out of our own pockets. In addition to the cost to keep our lights on;) Get my point? Our profit margin is below zero. We created this nursery because we love what we do and helping to give a better quality of life to those who struggle with Alzheimer’s every day. We choose to be transparent with all of you so you have a better picture of where the money goes. Hopefully, it all now makes sense. 

Where’s The Money?
Why on earth are these dolls so expensive?

What goes into making a doll?

Why does it even take so long?

Well let’s start at the very beginning, finding our client’s perfect sculpt or kit that will best fit their needs.

So let’s go shopping!

Procure Sculpt
Time to go hunting. 

Often times we spend hours upon hours searching for that perfect sculpt that will best fit our clients needs. Sometimes it’s based on photos of loved ones, past or present. Sometimes it’s simply a vision.

The deposit of $150 is only charged after we have locked in the sculpt or kit we will be using and have a scheduled start date.

Prepare tools
We go through a lot of supplies!

So let’s re-stock and make sure we have what we need for this next doll. Such as, cleaners, paper towels, sponges, various cotton swabs, toothpicks, paint pads, thinner, oil, brushes, paints, mediums, varnish, hair, rooting needles, bulbs, zip-ties, plugs, rings, nylons, bodies, glass beads, polyfill, glue, magnets, pacifiers, felt, eyes, nylons, scent wafers, bodysuits, diapers and so much more..  

Start Painting
Time to paint!

This is a long process requiring dedicated ovens, good ventilation and perfect lighting for our heat set paints. Each paint layer needs time to dry or what’s called “flash”. Then a baking and cooling cycle. Taking on average of 25-30 min. for every 2-3 layers of paint (depending what we may be doing), 8 min to preheat the ovens, 8-9 minutes to bake and, another 10 min to cool. One doll can have hundreds of layers. Taking up to 8 weeks to complete.

Start Rooting
Baby needs hair!

This is the challenging part of creating these dolls. Using a technique called mono-rooting, I root one single strand of hair at a time under a very high power magnifying lamp using up to five different shades and types of hair. Sometimes requiring a heat lamp in the head. However only after we have created a plan on how we want the hair to lay or be styled when done. This can take anywhere around 200 hours or 4-6 additional weeks to complete. 

Assembly
Time for assembly!

Once the painting and rooting are completed we can finally put the doll together! This is where the expenses add up! We use 20 or more body components to assemble just one doll. Such as, each limb, the head, a fabric body, embroidery thread, needles, zip-ties, nylons, glass beads, polyfill, poly-pellets, plugs, rings, magnets, felt, glue, eyes, resin, special detailing or textures and more. Ensuring everything is perfectly weighted, balanced and filled just right. Making your little one melt in your arms!  

Photo Shoot
We’re not done yet!
Time to do a photoshoot!

Now that baby is picture perfect, it’s time to gather all the photography props, outfits, lighting, clamps, backdrops and more. Once done, it’s time to crop and copyright each and every one of our favorite photos. Once we’ve finished that, we can finally share our new creation with the world! Starting with writing an email to our subscribers and updating the website. Lastly we move on to sharing the news on our social media platforms!

Doll Boxing
Time to put together our box opening! 

After dressing baby in its homecoming outfit we take care to wrap every limb to protect the paint and hair during shipping. Swaddling baby with a plush blanket to keep protected when bumping around. Placing baby in the keepsake box and filling it with all it’s goodies. All carefully wrapped to spoil the new family. Making your unboxing a day to remember!

We finally ship the baby home!!

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