Our doll business – The Pattycake Doll Company – was an accident. We started as, (and still are) a Graphic Arts Studio!
In 2002, the dot.com crash hurt our ability to give as generously to charity as we liked, and we were looking for a new ’stream of income.’ We decided to try e-commerce and launched HappyBabyBasket.com which featured themed baby baskets.
We had an Irish themed basket with a stuffed Irish Setter with a four leaf clover hanging from it’s mouth; a Jewish themed basket with a Blue Teddy Bear in a kippa and the Star of David embroidered on its paw, and a basket for a newly adopted child with Ling, (shown above, wasn’t she cute?) etc. We failed to sell a single basket. In fact, you couldn’t even find use in the search results we were so far down!
After a year and a half, we decided eCommerce wasn’t in the cards and decided to shut the site down. But since everything was already paid for, and we had six more months in our contract, we decided to take some of the items out of the baskets and sell them individually; to see if maybe we could recoup some of our inventory expenses at least.
Silver piggy banks, cute little custom tee shirts, etc. Now we had slowly been learning more about e-commerce, and we must have done something right, because all of a sudden our Asian dolls were selling. ( Not for a lot mind you, maybe $12.95?… I don’t remember anymore).
Well, one of my favorite phrases is “you don’t learn a heck of a lot from thesecond kick of the mule!” and that was the case here as well. After a year and a half, something had happened, but what? So we called a few of the customers who had purchased with…”hi, this is the Happy Baby Basket customer service follow up call. Thank you for your purchase… did everything go OK… and by the way, why did you buy that doll?”
And we kept hearing the same thing: ” We just came back from China with a newly adopted little girl, and we went into our local stores, and we couldn’t find Asian faced dolls. So we went online and found you!”
We had found a niche market. Underserved customers with a need. ant that was the start of The Pattycake Doll Co., and PattycakeDoll.com selling Asian Baby Dolls, Dolls for Black Children, Dolls for Boys and Boys Dolls, and contributing thousands of dollars every year to children’s charities.