Defining Biracial Dolls

Biracial Black-White doll

Opal – One of the Mixis dolls. Opal is Black Ghanian and White British

Growing up, our family self-identified as mutts. It was the standard answer that my family < Father (Russian – Polish with a bit of Irish) and Mother (Lithuanian – Austrian)>  gave when asked “where are you from?” Back in the ’50’s, this was a common question in the racially and culturally diverse neighborhood of New York City where I grew up.

Fast forward fifty years, and I’m scratching my head in this very ‘politically correct’ society we live in now, and I’ was trying to figure out how to best describe our dolls that were neither Black nor White, but in between. No one had ever asked us for an ‘in-between’ doll.

President Obama (Black and White)  – in a conversation about the first family’s search for a dog – had just declared to the whole world that he was a ‘Mutt.’

I didn’t think I wanted to use Mutt.

“Mutt Dolls for Sale!”
“Get your Mutt Dolls at The Pattycake Doll Company!”

At work there were two White women with Black husbands who had young girls. I asked them both: “If you were looking for dolls for your children on the internet, what would you type into the search window?”

Both said “mixed kids!”  100% agreement, right? Perfect!

I liked that a lot better than Mutt, except…. when I researched the search engine algorithms it was a ‘no-go.’ Google, Yahoo and Bing all agreed – practically nobody actually searched for ‘mixed kids dolls.’

No, what Google, Yahoo, Bing and the other search engines seemed to agree upon was that the words ‘Biracial Dolls’ was the way to go.

We’ve since added the words ‘multicultural,’ ‘multiracial’ and yes ‘mixed kids’ to our descriptions as well. The only thing we’ve never done is describe our dolls as mutts.

Who is this Doll? Doll’s Names

What was your favorite doll’s name?

Who named it?

Some American Girl™ dolls have names, but some are just a brand… there are 11 different skin tone/hair/eye combinations in the Bitty Baby line, but they are all named Bitty Baby. Then there are the 40 American Girl™ Truly Me™ dolls. 40 different hair, skin tone and eye color combinations that can be ordered to make the doll resemble your daughter – all forty dolls are named (and trademarked!) Truly Me.

But once you give your daughter a Truly Me™ doll, do you think she’ll call it Truly Me for the next five years?

Classic Raggedy Ann And Raggedy Andy Dolls

Classic Raggedy Ann And Raggedy Andy Dolls

Barbie’s name is Barbie™. Ken’s name is Ken™! And little girls know their names. But when they are playing with their ‘Barbies,’ every 11 inch doll is a Barbie even if it has a different name on the box. The child doesn’t say: ” Come on Grandma, let’s play with my Barbies and Midges and Stacies and Theresas etc. She says: “lets play with my Barbies.”

Raggedy Ann’s name is Raggedy Ann. But most other rag dolls are just called Dolly.

Teddy Bears are called Teddy.

At the Pattycake Doll Company every doll we sell is named, either by the manufacturer or by us.

Feel free to change it. ☺

Blogging, E-tail & Mobilegeddon

If you read my blog, you know that my wife and I sell dolls on the internet at www.pattycakedoll.com.

And dolls being our passion, we love to share that passion with others. Of course ‘dolls’ is a really huge subject. There is doll collecting, doll history, dolls as an art form. There is doll anatomy, dolls and nurture, dolls and gender. One topic I like to write about is the doll business… where do dolls come from, how do they get into the stores, and how to run an e-tail store on the internet.

E-tailing is a really strange business to begin with, but recently it got a lot stranger. And it’s your fault!  You, the consumer! You who have gone mobile.

Because Google, (who still accounts for more than half of all the searches on the internet, and uses their own special way to figure out if our web store should be shown as the answer to their search), has decided that if someone is searching from their mobile device, then Google only wants to show them sites that Google thinks are “mobile friendly.”

And if your etail store (or blog) is not mobile friendly in Googles estimation, then they won’t show your site – especially if they can serve up your competitors who are mobile friendly.

April 21st was the day the new rules – called algorithims – went into effect. And for those of us who depend on you to come visit our stores and blogs via Google search, that day has been nicknamed Mobilgeddon.

Fortunately, Google has a way to find out if a site is mobile friendly or not, and both our store and this blog are mobile friendly.

Thank goodness, right?

Mixed Kid’s Dolls & E-tail

An Asian, Black and Native American mixed race doll

An Asian, Black and Native American mixed race doll

E-tail is a really interesting word. It means having a store on the internet. And it represents two completely different knowledge bases; the first having to do with everything from Search Engine Optimization to Pay-Per-Click advertising to Google Algorithms. Phrases like title tags, alt image and html 5.

The second knowledge base has a lot in common with normal brick and mortar stores, things like inventory management, product turns and marketing budget; although there are some new concepts like long tail and shopping cart abandonment to know about also.

What both etail and retail have in common though, is customers. How to find them and let them know you carry the products that they are looking for. Although to be honest with you, with etail it’s more like how to let them find you.

One of the main tools etailers have to do that with is called ‘keywords.’ Those are the words that you type into the search box on your computer, tablet or phone screen.

For The Pattycake Doll Company, most of the time that is pretty easy. If you’re an African American mom looking for a doll for your three year old, you would probably type in something like ‘black baby doll.’

If you just came home from the hospital with a newborn baby boy, you might look for a ‘boy doll’ for his older sister to play with.

But what do Black/White parents search for. Or Asian/Black. Or Hispanic/Asian?

I have two friends who are White women married to Black men and with girl children, so I just went and asked them. Surprisingly they both answered the same thing: “We’d look for dolls for ‘mixed kids.’ Okay!

But when I went to my online research tool for keywords, Google and Yahoo didn’t agree; the search volume for that phrase was almost non-existent. Some look for Biracial, some look for Mixed kids, some look for diversity dolls. But not as many as one might think considering that more than half of America’s children are ‘non-white!

It makes my life interesting.

What is a Doll’s Breast Plate??

Doll Breast plate

Take a look at the two cloth bodied dolls above. The one on the left has swivel arms and head, and the cloth body comes right up to the neck.

The doll on the right has a breast plate. 

Does it matter?

Ballerina 18in Doll Portrait

Would this ballerina’s outfit look as good on the doll without the breast plate? And the cute tilt of the head? You can’t do that with the doll whose head simply swivels.

A three year old won’t notice, and a five year probably won’t care. So it’s really not that big a deal. But for your fashionista – she will care.

When you’re buying doll’s clothes, how much of the doll’s breast and shoulders will be exposed, and whether the doll even has a neck, is something you might want to consider.

PS: Breast plates, and dolls constructed with or without them are not something new… it has always been this way. Here is an antique doll (c. 1900) with breast plate construction. This doll had shoulders and a neck. The holes are where her body would have been attached (sewn). Her arms were undoubtedly cloth as well. (And she probably had a glued on wig.)

Antique doll with breast plate

Why we ‘name’ every doll we ship.

Stuffed Plush Big Bird

Stuffed Plush Big Bird

Do you know who Barbie is? Big Bird? How about Raggedy Ann? If you give a Barbie to your daughter, does she start calling her Luella?

Dolls need to have names; if they’re recognizable, they come with ready made names and your child will probably know what that name is.

But what about your generic baby dolls? This one came into our warehouse as “Anatomically Correct Caucasian Boy Doll.” We named him Jacob.

Baby Boy Doll

Baby Boy Doll

Every doll that the Pattycake Doll Company sells has a name.

Why?

Because it’s very hard for a child to attach and nurture and love an ‘object.’ Kids don’t generally name their spoons or their toothbrush. But kids do attach to and nurture their dolls. And to do that, the doll needs a name.

So to make your life, and your child’s life easier, we name the dolls that don’t already have a name.

Your child may change the doll’s name if she doesn’t like it; or it may become more simple like Baby, or Dolly, but we promise, if won’t ever become nameless like her spoon!

PS: If she has two dolls they will each have their own name!

The Doll Glossary – Doll Eyes

Today we started to rearrange our warehouse for the holidays. We like to move this year’s best selling dolls closer to our pack & ship area. That saves the warehouse staff lots of steps when the Holiday rush comes. I had just filled a shelving unit with dozens of dolls, and when I stepped back to look at it I realized that they were all ‘looking at me.” That led me to the thought: “Maybe I should do a post on doll’s eyes!” So here’s a brief glossary of terms associated with Doll’s Eyes:

Doll glossary - flirty eyes

A Doll with ‘flirty eyes’

Flirty Eyes describes eyes that are looking to one side or another. This is a very popular style that has been used on dolls from both Eastern and Western countries. It was more popular a hundred years ago, fewer dolls today have flirty eyes.

A doll with 'sleeping eyes'

A doll with Sleeping Eyes

A doll whose eyes ‘close’ when it is laid down and ‘open’ when it is picked up is described as having ‘sleeping eyes.’ The eyes are free moving and weighted so that they open and close. There are three weaknesses to this design:

  1. Children poke at the eyes… breaking the delicate mechanism that allows the eyes to open and close.
  2. Many manufacturers seem to have difficulty matching the paint color of the eyelids with the colored vinyl materials used to mold the face.
  3. And for those eyes that have eyelashes, children often pick at or pull off the eyelashes… it seems to hold a fascination for them. it is one of the items that we have to specifically list as ‘not covered’ in our store’s warranty!
A doll with safe-set eyes

A doll with safe-set eyes

Safe set eyes is a term that describes a method of attaching the eyes to the doll so that they are almost impossible for a small child to pull out and swallow. Credit is generally given to the GUND company (now a part of Enesco) for being the first to manufacture their dolls using this technique. Today all dolls and plush toys must meet the CPSIA safety standards for ‘pull strength.’ Usually the eyes are sewn into a little cloth sack, and then the sack is sewn into the head, making removing the eyes very difficult to do.

A doll with 'Fixed' eyes

A doll with ‘Fixed’ eyes

Fixed eyes are usually acrylic eyes that are glued or ‘fixed’ into place inside the hollow head of the doll during manufacturing. When the manufacturer does this right it can really enhance the beauty of the doll, when they use a poor quality eye, make the eye too small, or use a weird color it can make a pretty doll look strange – almost like an alien! One of the weaknesses of the process is that the eyes sometimes get glued in at a poor angle, making for a cross-eyed, googly-eyed or wall-eyed doll.

A doll with beautiful eyes

A beautiful doll with lifelike eyes