I've been wanting to mention the super cuteness at The Lucky Pebble for quite a while and contacting Denise Mollison was on my to-do list for the New Year. But, these adorable dolls may not be available for much longer.
Denise is mom to Alexander (9), Raven (8) and Lenore (4). She started out making therapy dolls for Raven. Raven has been diagnosed with Russell Silver Syndrome, which is a rare failure to thrive condition. Through trial and error and a whole lot of crayon drawings from Raven, Denise designed a toy to help children articulate their feelings through play. Raven's therapists realized the potential of the toy and encouraged Denise to go into business.
Denise began sewing and selling the toy through the Hawaii Play Therapy Conference. She wanted to manufacture the toys, and expanded to include more play dolls to cover expenses. However, since Raven's health care is Denise's chief concern, that has been put on hold. In her eight years, Raven has needed specialists in cardiology, endocrinology, neurology, nephrology (kidneys), gastrointestinal medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. She has a feeding tube and is fed with a feeding device overnight. Denise's earnings from the Lucky Pebble dolls currently supplement the cost of Raven's medical supplies.
Her mom says Raven has strawberry blond hair past her waist, big gray eyes, and she is smaller than her four year old sister. But despite her small size, Raven has a big imagination. The dolls are inspired by Raven's drawings and creativity. At Denise's house, the Little Girl Friend Dolls and the Matroyshka Sock Dolls are the most popular. The children helped create the Matroyshka Sock Dolls.
Linnea just walked by and got very excited about the pictures I had up on the screen. I can totally understand her excitement. The combination of bright colors and friendly expressions is pretty irresistible. And the dolls have their arms out as if to say "Hug me!"
I've been writing a lot obout the CPSIA lately. The CPSIA in it's current form will put Denise's business and many home industries which make toys, clothing, cloth diapers and other children's products out of business.
Denise wanted me to stress that she cares about toy safety and wants to be able to prove her toys are safe. She just need a cost-effective way to do so.
Like thousands of other crafts-persons, Denise purchases her supplies from sewing shops, hobby supply, and large chain stores across the United States. Most of the materials for the dolls come from major suppliers such as Magic Cabin, Joy's Waldorf Dolls, Fox River Mills, Jo-Ann Fabrics, and Discount Fabrics USA, but sometimes she'll buy fabric from an Etsy vendor. None of the fabrics are particularly exotic -- her most used fabrics are minky dot fabrics, Red Heel sock material, chenille, and wool tweed.
When Denise purchase materials and supplies to use in her dolls, she purchases these supplies as a consumer, just the same as if you or I bought a few yards of fabric to sew a dress or make felt food or a teddy bear. Our purchase should already have been certified safe to use in children's products, and it should have been thoroughly tested by the manufacturer. We deserve to know that it is safe for the use that we intend it for.
Just as we'd like safe toys, we want the security of knowing that materials and supplies that are used in children's products have been tested by the manufacturer, and have passed Consumer Product safety standards for each material. We should have that security whether we are making item for our own children, or items to sell.
Denise and other craft persons would like to see the law amended to permit vendor certification for supplies that are used in children's products. Testing of supplies is more cost-effective. This way, any company, large or small,could afford to comply, and individual consumers would also be protected. While Denise would be responsible for making sure she uses only certified-safe materials, the manufacturers of the materials would be responsible for certifying their safety both for Denise and for all the other artists, crafters and moms using those supplies.
However, without these changes, Denise is responsible for testing every doll, as each doll is unique. The cost of testing would run from hundreds to thousands of dollars, and producing and buying handmade children's items will no longer be affordable. For Denise, this will be devastating, as her income supplements the cost of Raven's medical supplies.
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