The Ellrose comfort dolls journey.
I saw my first lifelike vinyl doll in 1996 in a little shop at Mt Tamborine, which is in the hinterland of the Gold Coast, Queensland. I had a textile factory there and often wandered down Gallery Walk to see the beautiful gift shops. These dolls were $350 each and I put two on layby for my daughters and some of my friends also bought some. Unfortunately when we moved to Casuarina Beach the box containing the dolls disappeared. The next year I sold one of the beach houses I built next door to our home to an American man who became a great friend. He invited us to visit him and his wife in Las Vegas and it was in FAO Schwarz that I, once again, saw the Lee Middleton dolls displayed. This time they were in a nursery setting and dressed in little white outfits. The sales assistant was dressed as a nurse and the babies were all lined up in little isolettes. They were only $99 each and so I bought two.
One year later my first granddaughter, Mia, arrived and I wanted to buy her a doll. Of course there weren’t any I was happy with so I contacted Lee Middleton Dolls in Ohio and asked them if they were interested in selling their dolls in Australia. They sent out all the relevant information I needed and were delighted in my interest. I approached Westfield and showed them my business model of a nursery setting with nurses performing adoptions for little girls. The store was a big success and I realized that I was selling to collectors, special needs people and also diversional therapists who used them as doll therapy for people living with Alzheimer’s. I opened another Westfield shop and this was beautiful. I designed the layout and it was more than just a hospital nursery. It had pink chandeliers, every type and size doll and lots of other brands from around the world. I added to our collection of dolls and clothing with pettiskirts and jewelry. We played beautiful music, held princess tea parties, and generally gave each child a wonderful experience along with a photo of them with their new baby.
When I closed my shops I decided to design my own range of dolls, only this time I wanted to make improvements. I found a business partner, Dr Peter Ellis, who has helped this project to materialize. During the years of selling dolls I discovered many of the wigs became matted and the only way to fix them was to replace the wig. While the dolls were realistic to hold they seemed to become too heavy for lots of children and absolutely far too heavy for frail elderly people to hold for any length of time, let alone have them fall asleep with the dolls on their chests. I also discovered that the babies with 3/4 limbs were easier to dress and were more tactile.
Our new baby, called Rose, is the first of the Ellrose range and is perfect. She has much softer silicone / vinyl skin, is only 1.4 kg but still feels like a real baby to hold, has a beautiful baby powder perfume which is usually only found in limited edition dolls, has 3/4 limbs so she can wear summer clothing, her hair is hand rooted mohair, not a wig, which makes it easy to comb and wash. She wears a two piece pink outfit with pettiskirt and crocheted bonnet and has a magnet behind her lips to hold the pacifier in place. Her tiny nails are hand painted and translucent and her sweet face is the sculpt of my favourite artist, Linda Murray.
So now, my friends, here I am introducing Rose. The cutest little reborn baby I have ever sold.