Cheating at Races…

I saw this blog post this morning from Lani Tashima who is a writer for MousePlanetย and I couldn’t agree with her more. Now, I am nowhere near a level where I would ever have to be concerned with being cheated out of an age group win – but as someone who diligently pays for her races and trains for them, those that do not really rub me the wrong way. I know the first race I ever ran, when I went onto Marathofoto to look at my pics I realized someone else also had my bib number. Now, how they got it I have NO clue unless they just guessed, but it was still an annoyance.

We all know cheating, in any environment, is a bad thing. We’re (hopefully) taught it at an early age. When you cheat on a race, regardless whether it’s a small local event or a large production like the runDisney races, you are hurting not only everyone that pays to run that race, but everyone that helped to ensure that the race was something that could even exist AND you make future races all the more difficult to participate in, which is really counterproductive.

Now, I wish I could say I get it because, particularly in the case of runDisney races, they are expensive. A 5k is generally going to run you about $65 – $75 and the challenges are usually a couple of hundred dollars and that’s before you factor in hotel stay, transportation, etc. Local 5k’s in my area, by comparison are usually $25 -$40 with little to no transportation and obviously no need to lodging to factor in. But runDisney races are expensive in part because they do provide finisher medals for all and (usually) those medals are solid quality items that simply because they are Disneyana can become collectors items. This is in addition to the event shirt that is provided with registration, AMPLE amounts of post race refreshments (which cheese dip that is not purchasable anywhere else and is apparently to die for) and race specific merchandise that is available for an additional charge that has to be designed, created and stocked. Beyond that though there is the traditional Disney spin on things; on route entertainment, plenty of water/rest stations, medical staff on site and on the routes themselves (not all races provide this!) plus opportunities that are intrinsically Disney with character meet-and-greets before, during and after the races and a tremendous amount of organization for not only the races themselves, but logistically pre, during and post race. Even the Expos that they provide are generally larger events unto themselves and chocked full of vendors and training and information.

But here’s the thing, just like anything else that someone loves to do, they are going to be alright spending money on that thing. For some it’s crafts, others it’s dolls, for some it’s even Christmas decorations. For some of us, we ENJOY the races, even when we despise the training, and there for we plan and save and decide which ones we want to do and invest not only in the race, but in our own motivation, determination and enjoyment of the experience.

When someone cheats – either transfers/sells/buys a bib when that is not allowed, or has a sub racer run for them, or outright just copies a bib from one posted online – they are hurting everyone. They might feel that they are sticking it to Disney, or the race promoter or whomever. They might feel that they are getting away with something taboo. They might just be an ass who simply doesn’t care. But they forget that they are hurting the people who want to invest in this sport and themselves. They are hurting the person who decided to start running in order to improve themselves, their health, loose weight, help out an existing medical condition, or otherwise celebrate something that they have overcome. They hurt the kids that have goals and dreams to accomplish something. Because if they continue to do this, then the races get more and more expensive, there is less and less provided and those that normally could have participated have to opt out.

Basically, if you cheat when it comes to running, then I have no sympathy for you and truly feel you suck. I worked hard to meet the goals I’ve met so far and to work towards the ones I have set for myself and I will not allow others to ruin the opportunity for me , or anyone else who is TRULY working and investing in themselves, to accomplish them. This is the feeling when you know you’ve worked for it, tackled it and overcame it. This is what you are actually robbing people of and that, my friends, is just despicable.

 

 

How a Hobbyist Becomes a Collector…

So I started out repainting Monster High dolls primarily as a source of not only a creative outlet, but also a potential side income. I fully admit it. I’d seen the dolls in the stores, certainly and rather thought that they were an awesome alternative to Barbies and your standard Bratz dolls. Yes, there has always been conflict with the images that ‘fashion dolls’, including their matriach Barbie and all others have when it comes to what are they teaching our daughters? Unless a doll is an American Girl doll, it seems, you just cant win and better yet, you’ll likely have a drastically smaller bank account!

That being said, Monster High dolls are also extremely popular among those that enjoy the Japanese-inspired Ball Jointed Dolls, that are, quite frankly GORGEOUS but highly expensive. A Typical body for a BJD doll can run you more than $100, not counting accessories and clothing (much like the American Girl dolls), and that’s WITHOUT anything face wise – just the base doll to build off of. At least with American Girl dolls, you’re given a starter set of clothes the the doll is face-uped!

With all that to consider, MH is a wonderful, and cost-effective, alternative to the two, even with their ‘basic’ dolls starting at around $12.99 retail. Sets can get up to $24.99 – $54.99 – but you’re generally getting multiple dolls then.

Plus, with their unusual skin tones, wild hair and various accessories, you can easily customize a MH doll into pretty much anything you’d like with a little practice and creativity. That is, if you are creatively inclined. I’ve seen some HORRENDOUS repaints! But, as is true with the creed of MH – freaky flaws should be accepted and everyone should be appreciated for just how they are. (A creed that honestly stood out to me, as I would have LOVED an alternative doll like Draculaura or Frankie Stein when I was a young’in!)

So, here I sit – an almost forty something mom of two boys, and I repaint my MH dolls lovingly in the hopes that others will appreciate the work I’ve put into them and provide them a home – be it a collector or someone wanting to get a doll that’s a little different for their child to display. (*Due to various regulations, my dolls are NOT recommended for play but for collection and display only – much like you would a bisque or porcelain doll)! What has become quite humorous to me, however, is the fact that I have found dolls that I absolutely love just for the dolls themselves, and desire to have for my own personal collection. (In my home, if you have more than two of something, it’s a collection!)

I currently have two C.A. Cupid dolls (both release versions I do believe due to their facial mold differences), a Black and White Skull Shores Frankie Stein, a Gilda Goldstag and a Lorna McNessie doll all to myself. I’m still searching for an original Cupid (not the Ever After High version) to modify and after looking at the newly released Boo York, Boo York and the Freak du Chic lines – I would love to have a Freak du Chic Frankie Stein, Gooliope Jellington and a Boo York Mouscedes King and Elle Eedee for my own. (Freak du Chic Frankie is GORE-GEOUS!)

I have even found myself, when it’s just me at night and the rest of the house is sleeping or working, watching the cartoons and appreciating the world that Mattel has created. I’ve always been ecstatic that I didn’t have girls – I always wanted sons oddly because I always enjoyed traditional ‘boys’ toys when I was a kid myself and was a bit of a tomboy – and I’m oddly even more appreciative of the fact that I don’t have to ‘share’ my love for the line with anyone. Selfish, I know, but it’s the little things in life when you’re the only estrogen in a house full of testosterone! But for what MH is, and what it stands, for, I can’t argue. Its a playful line of toys that attempts to show that beauty isn’t ALWAYS something traditional, and that differences, even outrageous ones, are what make us unique and special. For that, I’m a die-hard collector – even if I do enjoy changing them up a bit. ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

 

 

 

 

Loose Odds and Ends

So working on my dolls and selling them nude means I have a lot of odds and ends laying about that I don’t really need. (I’ll write up another post next about why my dolls aren’t sold with clothes…yet. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) For the most part, I will put those doll parts, accessories, clothes etc onto my eBay shop. Why? Because even though I don’t need them, I know that there are plenty of collectors and/or parents out there looking for that piece to finish up the Sweet 1600 series doll they have or else replace a piece of their child’s favorite doll that the dog accidentally swallowed. It makes absolutely no sense to me to hold onto ย a plethora of pieces I may not need when others may have more valid and immediate use for them and thankfully eBay provides a conduit for that.

I also try to hunt good deals on dolls when they go on sale and try to purchase two – particularly of the boys that are harder to find since I don’t repaint them and offer on my eBay. I don’t mark them up too horribly over retail for their buy it now pricing and start their bidding at below retail usually so that shipping isn’t too horrendous. Always be on the look out for good deals!

So if you ever want to see what dolls, loose pieces, odds and ends I have available, take a gander over at Chrysalis Creation on eBay!

This Social Network Thing…

When you start to look up ways in which to promote your shop, you’ll find a TON of advice on linking everything to social media and networks such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram,ย Tumblr, etc. Pinterest in particular seems to have the foot hold in being the most useful in marketing your little space in the Etsy universe and is indeed a wonderful tool. I am relatively partial to Instagram for what I’m doing – mainly because since it deals primarily with Monster High Doll Repaints, the format for Instagram reaches more of the age level that would be interested.

That being said, you simply can not run any sort of business in this world without having a social media presence AND staying up with it. I have to wager that currently I spend a couple of hours a day going through various Facebook groups, promoting, cross promoting and doing what I can to get my Etsy views and favorites up so that when those collectors DO want to purchase, my listings are closer to the top of the SEO (search engine optimization) food chain for view. Even large corporations have to have some sort of social media outlet at the ready and steadily paid attention to in order to remain relevant and connected to their target audiences.

Now, I know I have a rather niche shop at the moment – repainted dolls are, after all, still a relatively new phenomena. besides that, they are art dolls, which have their own unique audience. Thankfully, the audiences that I would be trying to reach (either art doll collectors, Monster High collectors both adult and non, or those that appreciate custom ball-jointed dolls) generally are very active on all forms of social media. The doll themselves are wonderful, but I also have been considering ways to expand – like making clothes and/or jewelry for them as well. Those would also give me a range of price points and might help to steer traffic towards the dolls. ๐Ÿ™‚

I have also been considering offering other arts that I dabble in, like decoupage bottles with and without floral arrangements. (thought that may become it’s own separate store).

Then there is always the battle with whether to build a separate website to help promote OR upgrade this here WordPress blog to premium.

The hard part, however, is increasing interaction once you have someone on your page(s). Pretty much every single page mention gives priority to those pages in which there is solid and regular interaction. You can have the best tags and SEO placement imaginable, but without traffic and continued involvement, the links will grow stale in this ever-evolving and super-lightning-paced marketing world that we live in. As someone growing a business, I have to not only put time and effort into what I create, and REGULARLY update those items by adding inventory and cycling them through my promotions, BUT I also have to be involved with my shop, my pages, and those of other shop owners. I’m a big proponent of cross promotion and have been loving the Etsy treasury feature to be allow me to do just that. Then with others social media pages I make the attempt at leaving comments, likes and keeping dialogue moving when and where I can. People tend to forget that it flows both ways and you get what you give!

Regardless what my final decision ends up being, I first want to thank each and every one of you who not only follow this blog, but have also liked any and all of my pages. My success is not only based on what I put into it, but also the support of those around me and with social media, even though I might be a niche market, I’m able to expand that beyond my wildest dreams!