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Just a Thought....

Nov 1, 2017

    1. I wonder how much time and effort it takes to start up a doll business like what you see with FairyLand and stuff. I’m just musing more or less, but if you think about just what it takes to sculpt a doll, nevermind the casting and finishing processes, I’m surprised there’s dolls for as cheap as $100 out there that aren’t recasts!

      Put your thoughts below, what all do you think a company has to do to start up a business like FairyLand, ResinSoul, etc. (I’m still exploring other sites, those two are my personal faves) and maybe if ya own or have a bjd business, tell us what it’s about!

      I’m working on sheer curiosity here. I’m making my own doll but I’m not sure if I’d sell it as a business startup or not. ^~^
    2. Personally, I think it depends on your goal. I would love to sell my sculpts if I ever got them to a standard I'm happy selling. Given that I work full time, it would be a side business for me and something done more because I love it than as a primary source of income. I'm not sure I could ever earn enough from it to make a living in London.

      At the bare minimum you need a set up like I mentioned before. To get professional and consistent casts, you really do need a degassing chamber and pressure tank but they're not *that* much. Pressure tanks are about £300 and the degassing chamber (albeit with annoying hand pump) was about £50. I don't have a pressure tank yet. You also need a compressor with the tank, and a fairly big one. Luckily I can borrow one of those.

      Would I sell a full doll for $100US? No. I work in 1/3 scale and I'd probably sell a head for that. Simply because costs: silicone and resin, missing materials, sandpaper and time. That would give me a teeny tiny profit but the main satisfaction would be the fact that someone liked my sculpt enough to buy it!

      I think some small companies also want a name: you can't charge Iplehouse prices until you have the reputation for quality. I'd sell early sculpts at a lower price, to get my name and work out there.

      Primarily though, no idea how they live on the $100 sales unless they sell a lot, and live somewhere where materials/overheads and cost of living are lower. $100 in some countries is more than it is in the US, in some countries it's less! $100 is only £75 so for me to sell at $100... Well it's worth a lot less to me!
      • x 1
    3. Another thing to consider is that the tax system works very differently in different places.

      Could I sell a doll for a Chinese price and still paying Swedish income tax? Hehe… I wish.
      As someone who is currently trying to start up a BJD business I also struggle a lot with how to value my own time. Especially when doing things for the first time, as I am slower than I will probably be in the future. It’s not fair to have my customers pay for my lack of experience, but it is also not fair to work for free. It’s a balance that is hard to maintain. Especially as most of the work on the dolls themselves is up front. I have to go through the entire sculpting process, prototyping, casting, adjusting etc. before I see any profit at all. I need money to live on during this time and hopefully the dolls I make will help fund next doll after that. But time will tell.
      I have been seriously working towards this for two years now and are just getting ready to set up a preorder for my first body (already have a head out).

      If I wanted to go big, like one of the larger companies I would have to employ other people, though and that is not possible here. It would cost me way more than I can ever hope to make selling dolls. This is another thing that varies wildly depending on where in the world you are located.
      • x 1
    4. There are some smaller BJD companies that have their dolls cast by another company. For example SleepingElf dolls are cast by Bobobie. Personally, if I ever get one of my tiny gargoyles finished to a high enough standard to want to replicate it, I'd have Harucasting cast it. Though I have no intention of starting a business making BJDs.
      • x 1
    5. Interesting points. I'd love to make a living devoting time to what I love, but alas, money will not allow. Good luck with your body sales!
      • x 1
    6. I used to be an office manager for a locally owned business, and there are a lot of things people don't think about, for example, business insurance, tax stuff, business license. Getting your company the legal work so if someone sues you for whatever reason, they can't sue you for your personal property. Shipping/packing materials, business cards, supplies, outsourced work (maybe if you're sending the sculpts out for casting, or paying someone to make the box/coa/pillows/etc), records of any employees and their paperwork, renting a location if the business gets too big for your home, computer programs for records and keeping track of sales. Web design, website fees, marketing. All of this might not be necessary on a very small scale, especially if you're selling on Etsy, eBay or DoA, but if it's a serious business, it might be necessary.

      On the doll part, you'd need all the supplies to make the doll from start to finish, boxes and packing material, some sort of CoA, shipping materials, faceup materials (if you offer faceup options), storage space
      • x 3
    7. First I must clarify that I have zero experience with this sort of thing. Both in Making the doll and selling it.

      All the same I think that a good way to get started with casting and selling BJDs would be someplace small like etsy or something and then moving up. Tons of people use it to sell as well as to buy so if what you make is interesting enough there will people looking at it.

      Heck, with a store like that you could probably sell props, which usually take a lot less time and money to make than a doll, and also fund the doll casting.
      • x 1
    8. So many things to think about! XD I’m just starting the sculpting for my doll and the idea came to mind that, it sounds like you’ve put even more thought into it! I live in Canada, so our shipping isn’t TOO horrible, nowhere near cheap as China shipping but it could be made to work, maybe. I’ll have to look over the shipping costs for a specific sized parcel and go from there. I adore the idea of a box with a fitted foam(or similar) lining for a doll, but the costs forbthat would go up as well, not to mention purchasing expedited or faster shipping methods, photography props to advertise......I think this could be a very expensive venture....^^’ Have you thought about any pros or cons for asking to work for a company like Iplehouse? This idea just came to mind....^^’

      I hadn’t thought of the legal side of things yet, thanks so much for that info! I’m an Admin Assistant with a different type of company entirely(medical) so our legal stuff is dealt with by other professionals so it never crossed my mind. That’s quite a lot of non-sculpting time that has to be done too. I guess etsy’s Hand Guide was right in that the ‘crafty’ part of a business is only a small portion of owning a business of any sort! I guess there’s also fees for any professional photography you might want to do, or if you do it yourself I suppose there’s the editing software and hardware costs, the time involved with just that alone could take weeks for a single doll, then there’s tracking the doll numbers, inventory, trial runs.....

      I think I may just create my doll first and see if I like working with anthropomorphs as BJDs before I decide on selling.....^^’

      O.O That’s actually a really good idea! I already make props and wardrobe things for my dolls(MH too though they aren’t technically BJDs) so expanding a little with things like maybe jewelry and such could be a good way to fund the supplies I need....so much to think about!! XD
      #8 CuteyCreations, Nov 2, 2017
      Last edited by a moderator: Nov 2, 2017
    9. I think, for me, I'd struggle with fitting into an established company. I'm autistic, and I don't cope well with being pressurised, which I might be if I was working for someone else. I also love having complete creative control of my projects. If working for an established company, it's be necessary to adhere to their aesthetics to sone point. To be honest, I've not thought much about shipping costs from the U.K. I'm focusing on creating sculpts I'm happy with and that are up to standard. How far have you got with your sculpts? I'd love to see them! I've not posted mine on the doll making thread on here, yet. Kinda waiting for the Joint merge.
    10. Doug James is a fashion doll maker (CED, Willow & Daisy, some work on Gene) who is pretty successful in his field. Even he says "Don't quit your day job." ;)
      • x 1
    11. Ha ha! Good advice.
    12. I can understand the issues with fitting into a company pretty well(I’m autistic too) as well as the creativity issues lol I actually had a torso created using polymer clay twice for my character I’m creating(this is before I realized making the whole doll first with legs and such would be a better idea rather than the pieces and risk shrinkages making limbs unusable) but the first time around it split into three chunks after baking, and the second one....iiiiitttt had an accident with a chair leg....o.O I was a clutz. ^^’ I don’t have a photobucket account, just pics on my phone, though if you’re on any of the BJD aminos, I’m called Grace! You can find my pics there :3

      XD I shall take that into consideration lol xD wait. Now I gotta go look for this Doug James fellow! XD He sounds interesting|! X3
      #12 CuteyCreations, Nov 2, 2017
      Last edited by a moderator: Nov 2, 2017
    13. @CuteyCreations Yes, photography is a big thing too! If you're going to sell anything high-end, good photography is imperative. A phone camera won't cut it. DSLR cameras and equipment are expensive, and so is hiring a professional. If you want to sell a BJD you must have good quality photos though. If you browse any type of Etsy listings, you can easily tell who has a quality photography setup and who does not. Virtually every really successful shop on there has wonderful photos taken with a good camera and a lightbox.
      • x 1
    14. So true, though I also see quite a few shops that rely on natural lighting(which is technically the best type of lighting for anything) but also so many of the smaller items looks fantastic in a lightbox too. A whole rig is expensive though, my camera alone was $1K CAN, and that only came with a super basic lens and battery. Plus any videos you want to make HAVE to be less than 30 minutes at a time unless you have a camcorder, which tends to be awkward to use and shaky if you don’t have a tripod to stabilize it, then theres the planning of th shoot, props, location, timing.....so much to think about!!!

      ......I babbled....^^’ I’m a semi-pro photographer getting into product photography, so I understand the chaos just taking a picture can involve. All of that, plus the doll making processes, plus the advertising, video editing, getting mailing boxes that work for the doll, a carrybag for the doll if it comes with one, clothing customs if you want to sell a fullset....my brain is spinning. XD I can see why people take upwards of 2-5 years building a business before they even start selling their dolls!!!
    15. I struggle a lot with photography.
      My interest is in the dolls and the making of them, not so much really in the marketing and social aspects. I have to force myself to take progress photos and even when I really make an effort (I do have decent camera) my results are mediocre at best. As the project is not yet making any money it is hard to defend the cost of professional photographs. I have had a semi-professional friend take some good pictures at a discount, but that comes with its own problems.
      In the end I probably will have to learn, but I really, really dislike every minute with the camera and it drains energy away from the dolls. Hopefully it will somehow become easier with time.
    16. It does become easier, and if you don’t mind some tips I can offer them too! I love doing photography, and find that making a scene becomes a lot more fun if I have a story to go with. It depends on the scene too but it doesn’t need to be expensive! I haven’t finished my girl to give her the perfect look yet so I haven’t had the chance to take her outside, but a forest log with a nice view of the background, maybe blurred a little to bring her into focus, and a small tripod to steady the camera, would be a great shot to help give her character more personality. It doesn’t cost anyting either! X3

      It just depends on how you think of the camera; is it a pain in the butt machine just for business purposes...or is it a neat little tool to help bring your doll to life?
    17. Yes, I know all that, in theory. It's just a bit overwhelming and I have a lot of trouble forcing myself to do things I'm not motivated too do (this is one of the reasons I can't work a regular job and I'm also on the autism spectrum, diagnozed with Asperger syndrome). It's easier to, you know, just do it later and then it never happens.
      In my case a lot of the problem with photography comes fom the combination of shaky hands (can be fixed with a tripod, but I work with extreemly limited space and budget, so it hasn't happened yet) and bad lighting (I am sensitive to strong light and can't work in it for any leght of time. Camera flashes also triggers migranes, so I can't use that). So the whole photography thing just doesn't come naturally to me.

      But I comfort myself with the thought that I do at least have a creative mind and sooner or later I will probably find some sort of workarounds.
    18. Working with aspergers is terrible. I have a full time job (plus two and a half hours of commuting daily) but would love not to have to do it. It's incredibly stressful. On top of that, I'm doing a master's degree as part of my job. I think the number of people in the uk with autism who work at all is currently at 14% (it's a big news thing here).

      I think that's part of the lack of motivation. It can be extremely hard to make yourself do things you don't really enjoy, especially when you have other stresses in life. Think that's why I'm just enjoying my sculpting as a hobby right now, without thinking too much about a business!
      • x 1
    19. That's more than I could ever dream to do, I can't imagine how you manage it. The most I have ever worked is six hours a week and that was years ago. Now I'm happy if I don't have to chose between breakfast and brushing my teeth for lack of energy. :XD:
      Jokes aside, though, that 14% figure doesn't surprise me at all. I don't know what it's like in the UK, but here the whole system built around how to get work and how you are allowed to employ people is pretty rigid and not built for everyone.

      True enough.
      One of my main reasons for trying to make something of my doll making is that it would have felt pretty good to actually make some money on my own for once and this is at least something I'm somewhat good at.
      Well, not all of it, but the sculpting, enginering and casting is fun!
      • x 1
    20. Threads regarding Market Research are not allowed on DoA.
      This thread is now closed.