We couldn't be more thrilled to bring you an interview with Christina Platt, owner and designer of the much sought-after natural dolls at Bamboletta.com. Bamboletta dolls are made from only the finest materials and are close to impossible to "score" during a shop update. Go check out the shop, and you'll know why they are so popular!
Christina, thank you so much for joining us for our second anniversary issue, an issue devoted to toys! We thought you would be the perfect person to celebrate as a Renaissance Mom for this occasion. Why don't you start by telling us how you got into crafting.
I was fortunate enough to have a very, very crafty aunt in my life growing up. Many afternoons were spent with her creating and giggling with burnt fingertips from wielding a hot glue gun. My love for craft continued into highschool when I got a job at a craft store. I have bin upon bin of various crafting bits and bobs - I love it all. I love to make things.
How did Bamboletta.com come about?
I started selling the dolls about 7 years ago at farmer's markets and craft shows back in Vancouver. It was by my 5th or 6th market that I noticed the 'line ups' of ladies before I'd open waiting to get dolls - it was quite funny to see these women chat about which doll they liked (as I was setting up) yet still with this 'don't you dare take that blond in the pink dress!' sort of edge to it .. I loved doing markets. Soon after Etsy started I joined on there and sold a few dolls online but predominantly sold though an online store called Natural Pod and to other retailers across Canada and US. Around 4 years ago I decided to open up my own shop at www.Bamboletta.com and ceased selling to retailers - I love having that connection to my customers directly.
Are you a work-at-home mom or do you have a work space out of the home? If you are a work-at-home mom, how do you juggle your work duties with your mom duties?
I worked in the home until last fall when we literally burst out of our house and opened up a studio space nearby. My eldest is in school and my youngest is at preschool and at home with dad a bit. When I did work at home it was a bit of a struggle at times - especially when people started working with me. It was a balancing act - hard to hear your child crying upstairs while telling people things to do. I have such admiration for moms that do it! The size that we are now - with 5 'in house' employees and 15 sewing mamas - it would be impossible for us to operate out of our home.
What inspires your creativity?
Oh - everything! Children, colors in nature, my customers - it's amazing how much inspiration I derive from everyday things. Just today I had the cutest little girl in front of me at the grocery store with incredible ginger hair - the highlights in it were divine. When I came home I dyed up some yarns to match it best I could. I am very fortunate to work with very creative women. Thamar, who is in charge of our doll clothing - is incredibly talented and I give her free reign over how she designs and creates the doll clothes. Jessica, who started with me a few months ago has an incredible eye for color - the yarns she's been putting together for hair are so beautiful. And the other gals in the shop seem to gel it all together - it's a neat dynamic. It's been an amazing experience to go from the person that creates it all (when Bamboletta was essentially just me) to allowing others freedom to create WITH me. I'm quite a perfectionist and thought no one could do it better .. ha! The best thing I've done is to give up 'control' - I feel each week our dolls are getting better and better.
What do you think has been your biggest struggle as a working mom?
That thing they call 'balance'. I've had to make some compromises the past few years so that I've been able to grow Bamboletta as much as I have. I've pretty much given up any sort of a social life so that I can focus in on my family when I'm not working but this is changing now that I have somewhat of a routine at work now (it's been a VERY crazy few years!). Thankfully I've got a great group of ladies that work with me so my days in the studio are filled with lots of laughs and chats.
What are your goals for yourself or your business for your future?
I'm not wanting to get much 'bigger' aside from the clothing - I like where we are at. I'd like to work on getting more clothing available, some children's clothing (to match the dolls!) and more of our smaller dolls available. Eventually , now this is my dream, I'd LOVE to do a few big shows a year so I could meet up with my customers in real life! That would be so exciting. I'd love to one day stock up hundreds of dolls and do the big craft shows in cities across Canada and the US. Everything is locally made by SAHM's - it's so rewarding to employee moms in my community and I feel that our 'team' and our community is what makes Bamboletta tick.
What other hobbies do you like to dabble in? What is your favorite way to relax?
I'm a fibre fiend - I love all things fibre yet oddly enough I don't knit. I'm really into spinning and am taking up weaving. I dye a majority of our yarns used for the hair and take a lot of pleasure out of doing that. My neighbours are used to seeing a rainbow of skeins drying in the sun on our fence. I love music and I also do a lot of reading and I always have a few books on the go. I try to go on a lot of walks too - I live in a really rural area and there are few things nicer than taking a walk in the evening and hearing all the birds settling down for the night and the sheep and cows going about their business - it's incredible rejuvenating.
Do you have any advice to give other women that are interested in starting their own small business?
Trust your intuition. I'm not quite sure how I got to where I am, I never intended for Bamboletta to get to this point but through it all I've always followed my gut. I've gone against traditional business 'advice' and it's worked in my favor. If you have the luxury of not focusing on profit and focusing on creating a great and unique product and building your community (through amazing tools like blogging and Facebook) then great things will happen. We have an incredible opportunity to find our niche market and NO niche market is too small now we have the Internet. I also think you can not underestimate great customer service. Be yourself, be unique and don't be afraid to fall. The greatest setbacks I've ever encountered have forced me to propel forward. It's an exciting ride!
What is your favorite game to play with your kids?
My eldest Benjamin and I LOVE to play Monopoly together - it gets quite epic. My youngest and I love to play 'Eagle Eyes' where we'll hunt around wherever we may be and try to find cool objects like rocks, neat flower, shells - whatever really. When I spend time with the boys it's pretty mellow - usually involving time at the beach or in our yard. I love hanging out with my little men!
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