There is just something about buying something handmade — there’s a more personal touch that goes into every single piece.
When we first came across Orange Blossom Dollies, we loved learning how this mother-and-daughter duo founded a family business of custom-made dolls in their hometown of Redlands, California.
As Jennifer put it, one of her happiest memories was receiving a handmade dolly from her grandmother every Christmas. The childhood memory blossomed into a business with her daughter, Alyssa, and the two create and craft the dolls together, thinking of how each item will bring sweet and special memories to everyone.
We also enjoyed learning the name behind Orange Blossom. Since Jennifer and her husband raised their three children in Redlands, she always enjoyed their long walks on the winding streets that smelled of fragrant orange blossoms in the air. The scent made them feel right at home.
You, too, get to be apart of the doll-making creative process. When designing your custom dolly, you have the option to choose the hair color, hairstyle, skin color, primary outfit color, style, shoe color and hair accessories. They also make clothing and accessories for additional outfits.
Monica and I wanted to spotlight creative women so we could all learn their unique messages, how they achieve their goals and how they inspire each one of us.
Here’s our Q&A with Jennifer and Alyssa:
P.S. They will be heading to San Diego’s premiere handmade market and craft show The Queen Bee Market on April 20 and 21 at Del Mar Fairgrounds. Click the link for more information!
You curate an online shop of handmade dolls. Tell us how you developed your passion.
Jennifer: When I was a little girl, my grandmother created a beautiful, handmade dolly for me and each one of my cousins every year at Christmas. I looked forward to receiving this special gift and I kept many of them into adulthood. Now that almost all of my children are fully grown, creating and crafting dollies has become a wonderful outlet to be creative, connect with others and make a special gift for them to give to their loved ones. I adore all of the details that go into the entire process from the hand-done stitch work, to the fabric selection, and everything in between. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that I create something that may become a special keepsake for a little one to treasure for years to come.
Name a woman, past or present, whom you admire.
Jennifer: I admire my mother-in-law. She is the most selfless person I have ever met. She can, and has, given everything she has at her disposal for anyone in need at the drop of a hat. She has the most strong and tender heart for others.
Alyssa: I really admire Christine Caine. She is a gifted speaker, teacher, and social activist that started the A21 Movement that assists people from all over the world find freedom from all kinds of modern slavery. Her passion and courage is evident in the fruit that comes from what she puts her hand to.
Where do you find inspiration?
Alyssa: We find a lot of inspiration through casual conversation! A while ago, my mom and I were at a local fabric store, just talking and browsing, and we had this wild idea to do a small collection of Halloween dollies that were all based on rides from Disneyland. We did a Haunted Mansion Doll, a Pirates of the Caribbean doll, an Enchanted Tiki Room Doll and a few others! So we are constantly just sparking up ideas and doing the best we can to try them out!
Jennifer: I find huge amounts of inspiration from various prints, patterns and colors from textiles designers such as Rifle Paper Co., Riley Blake, and Indy Bloom, to name a few. They often release the most beautiful fabrics that will spark multiple collection design ideas for us. I am also really inspired by the whole small-business, “maker” world. There are so many gifted and creative people sharing their passions and ideas and they are really supportive of one another.
What is a quote that motivates you?
Alyssa: “Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”
Jennifer: “When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.”
Which of your traits are you most proud of? Of your daughter?
Jennifer: I feel as though I am compassionate. Prior to starting this little business, I was a hospital social worker for over 20 years and had the opportunity to work with people from many different backgrounds in some of the most difficult seasons of their lives. Compassion helps me to love others, to care for my family, to help those that are hurting, and to create beautiful things for people to enjoy. Part of the reason I started making dollies in the first place was simply to give them away to kids in who were sick or in need and pray for them as I stitched together the doll. My daughter Aly is crazy talented. One of her greatest traits is that she is passionate. She has a fierce love for others, is not afraid to try new things and is able to balance being both creative as well as organized which is something that I admire greatly!!
What would like to see more of in the world?
Alyssa: Kindness. I believe that if each person were to look outside of themselves and their own circumstances, realize that the people around them are all going through different struggles and to choose no matter what the outcome is to be kind and love one another, the world would be a better place.
Jennifer: Simple, intentional living. I would love to see people spending more time on the things and people that matter. Less complication and less noise, just living in simplicity and authenticity, living in the moment.