In December of 2018, my husband and long time business partner Tamas and I had a ‘moving sale’ as we were vacating our commercial business space. The first person to show up to our sale was Rachel Hoffman, who snapped up all of the undressed Zoe’s immediately. She already had an idea in mind. Shortly after that, I met with Rachel to discuss being the souvenir artist for her June 2019 Virtual Doll Convention. Could we produce more Zoe"? What about a special costume just for the June convention? What about doing a class on say…. painting or sculpting? Why not both? You should make kits for both classes for people who don’t have access to the supplies…. No website? No problem, I’ll help you set one up. Oh, and we need to have a paper doll because it will be the real convention doll available to everyone who registers…
To say Rachel is a ball of fire is an understatement! Her enthusiasm and certainty of how good this alliance would be for both of us was…. intoxicating.
(I should mention here that I have never been a good judge of time, particularly of how much of my own time to allot to any given project. It just takes the time it takes!) This importance of this tidbit will become apparent later in this story.
Nevertheless, I jumped in with both feet - heedless of the time that would be needed for all the projects I had just agreed to…. ‘Keep calm, and just get on with it, ‘ is what I told myself, with Rachel cheering me on at every opportunity and Tamas, the skeptic, just shaking his head.
The first order of business was to design a special costume for ‘Zoe’ and get them made. Both Rachel and I were on tenterhooks waiting to hear back from the factory about price and delivery time. Once we got a commitment from them, I was at ease but I don’t think Rachel stopped worrying until the package arrived just weeks before the convention started. The project that worried me the most was the paper doll, with several costumes and backgrounds. Sketching on paper is not something I do often and when I do, I worry about it incessantly if it going to be published.
Next came the website. Alleluia! Things have come a very long way since our last commercial website (now defunct) that cost us upwards of $10,000. Rachel introduced us to an affordable, sophisticated website builder that we can control ourselves. Beautiful. I spent some time populating the website and getting the shop set up. But now, I had to design the roll-ups for the painting and sculpting kits that we were going to offer to attendees of the Virtual Doll Convention and order the contents of same. (And here is a little secret, I made each one of those roll-ups myself.)
Then, the pre-orders started to roll in for the two special edition dolls we offered through the Virtual Doll Convention. But before I could take the time to begin producing those special editions, there was a painting class AND a sculpting class to prepare for. Now, for someone who does not like to be photographed, in addition to the fact that I work in solitude, without thinking about what I do - all of that had to change for this to work. And boy, was I nervous. But once those classes were ‘wrapped’ thanks to Rachel’s uncanny knack of asking the right questions to keep things moving along, I could take a deep breath. And pray that something I said or did in those classes ignited a spark that will burn brightly for another artist.
No time to rest on laurels though. There was Virtual Doll Convention salesroom to prepare for! Photos of all the items we offered needed to be taken, descriptions written and then figure out how to get them to Rachel to post (for the tech challenged - that would be me). I had, of course, begun preparing the special edition dolls for painting, dressing & wigging. Tonight I am happy to say that I have finished both editions and every order will be shipped out in the next few days.
So, it has been a wild ride! And I wouldn’t change a minute of it! For Tamas and I, this was a life affirming event after a very challenging year. So, I will end this with the words I used to thank Rachel Hoffman for all that she has accomplished, not just with Kish & Company, but in orchestrating this entire beautiful symphony, with a quote:
“Music heard so deeply
That is no heard at al, but you are the music,
While the music lasts…”
T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets (the Dry Salvages)