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.