My name is Amy and, in a nutshell, I make dolls for kids who will never see themselves on the store shelves. I like to think of doll-making more like a ministry or a mission than a business. Dolls are therapeutic, validating, and comforting. It is a human likeness and by extension, a representation of the child who loves it. I am a doll-maker who feels that every kid, regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, medical issue, or body type, should look into the sweet face of a doll and see their own.
I talk a lot about changing the narrative - changing WHO we see and HOW we see them.
I believe that we are not only connected to one another, but we are obligated to take care of the people in our village - the global village, so to speak - and it is our responsibility to make sure that everyone has a place at the table.
In my past life (pre-kids!) I was a pediatric oncology social worker. A big part of my role was helping children adjust to what felt like an out-of-control situation. Let's face it...hospitalizations and medical procedures are scary when you DO comprehend it; so when you lack the skills to process on an intellectual and emotional level, it's rough. Play therapy is how kids work through all of that and dolls are an integral part of the process. What you ideally want is for a child to see him or herself in the doll that you are using because, again, shouldn't all kids be able to see themselves?
You and I know that that's not the case. Scars, birthmarks, limb differences, skin coloring, medical equipment...those are all things that you rarely see in dolls, but for kids who have those, it's everything!
My mom taught me that if you see something you want to change, change it! So I did.
My work space (aka studio!) is my dining room table. (My kitchen counter doubles as a work space also.) The dining room hasn't been used for its intended purpose in over three years!!!
Each doll literally starts as a piece of fabric and is custom-made to look like the child who will love it.
Many kids have never have had the opportunity to see their sweet faces reflected in a doll. It's hard to tell a child that they are beautiful but follow it with - but you'll never see yourself in anything that looks like you.
Typically, parents or caregivers pay for the dolls - about $100 with shipping per doll. When they can’t afford it, I find a way to cover it myself. It's that important...if we truly want to talk about the overall health of a child, we need to promote a healthy and positive self-identity.
I have partnered with children's hospitals to identify kids who might benefit from having a doll for comfort as they go through their medical care. The money raised here will help me do that. Funds raised will be used to pay for materials and shipping to cover the cost of dolls for those who can’t afford it. As of this spring, A Doll Like Me, Inc. is a recognized nonprofit organization! I am SO happy about that.
Ultimately, I don’t want any parent to have to pay for something that’s so important. If we’re going to look at mental health as a necessary part of medical care, this is key. My ultimate goal is to fulfill every doll order that comes in and not have the families have to pay for it. I think that a doll is a tangible way to show kindness.
I appreciate you reading the story of A Doll Like Me, and I wish you fulfillment in your life no matter what the challenge.
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- Amy Jandrisevits