Tuesday, November 12, 2013

An Interview with Blinkydoll's Boutique

Welcome to Day 2
of a Blinkydoll's Boutique extravaganza!

There are three days of fun!
Day 2: Interview with the lovely ladies behind Blinkydoll's Boutique
Day 3: GIVEAWAY!!!!

Today we're going to have a little interview with the ladies behind

They also have graciously given me a discount code for their etsy shop to share with my readers!
Use this code to get 5% off of your order :)

All photographs in this post are ©Lea St.Germain Photography
and used with permission.
If you're wondering where you can find the fantastic photography of Lea,
check out her Facebook, blog and Instagram!
She is available for commission work,
and something to keep in mind for next year,
©Lea St.Germain Photography
Blinkydoll's Boutique is run by a mother and daughter team.
 Deb (Mom) is the lead miniature maker,
while Lea (Daughter) is the talent behind the photography.

©Lea St.Germain Photography

Their shop is Eco-friendly,
using repurposed wood and fiber in their projects
to keep things stylish and affordable.
1. Where did the shop name, Blinkydoll's Boutique come from?
Deb: When Lea found her first Blythe 20 years ago she didn't know what doll she was,
so she named her "little blinky eyed doll" and it stuck!
So Blinkydoll's Boutique is in honor of her first Blythe.
©Lea St.Germain Photography
2. What inspired you to make Blinkydoll's Boutique a reality?

Lea: I created this shop because too many fashion dolls live in a pink plastic world. It drives me crazy when fashion doll decor is either shiny plastic, too short, or horrendous colors!

As an adult fashion doll collector, I would like to imagine that if fashion dolls were living in today's world they would be urban recyclers, using natural fibers and reclaimed timbers in their environment. Their settings would be harmonious,
with natural light and subtle textures, similar to what we use in our own homes.
I believe today's fashion dolls would shop wisely at small business owner boutiques and thrift stores.

As a doll collector on a limited budget I am well aware of the costs of every little exquisite accessory.

Keeping that in mind helps us at Blinkydoll's Boutique create unique, budget and Eco friendly items for all fashion doll and miniatures collectors.
It's about having fun, creating affordable style and thinking " out of the box"!
Our pieces are versatile, can be mixed and matched, are Eco friendly and have a lasting quality that comes from being hand crafted.
3. What would you like people to know about your shop?

Deb: 1. EVERY customer receives a free hand stamped gift bag, we always tuck in a few tiny treasures and a return buy coupon code for future savings, no expiration!

2. Our prices are budget friendly! We absolutely can mix or match linen sets or pillows, Need a particular size on a blanket or small quilt ? Need a table higher, lower, longer, shorter? No problem! Just send us a message!

3. We work with you every step thru your customization!

4. We are Eco friendly, and we pack responsibly no packing peanuts or shredded paper to hurt your pets.

5. We are doll collectors, we understand a scene is made perfect by the tiny details, if you don't see a particular detail, send us a message and we'll see if we can make it happen!

Recently an etsy seller spotted a tiny pillow and asked if I got wool from her and I did!
I bought one of her scrap bundles and created little pillows from it.
Well the piece was something her grandmother had used when this woman was a child!
She is my age now and that tiny piece of wool is over 50 years old!
It brought joy to her heart to see it being used again!

©Lea St.Germain Photography
4. How did you get started collecting fashion dolls?

Lea: My whole life I have enjoyed dolls.
I could spot a wrapped barbie box at Christmas from across the room!
My barbie was "The" gift I had to open Christmas Eve. My Mimi (grandmother) said it wasn't Christmas if I didn't have a special doll!
My mom made dolls for me and accessories for whatever doll I was attached to at the moment.
My dolls even went to college with me! They hang out wherever I happen to be.
Deb: In 1959 I got my first barbie. We were fairly poor, and having 2 sisters, I pretty much had to make accessories from whatever was available, Kleenex dresses, tissue box beds.
When Lea was little, we made houses from washing machine boxes and she and her 2 brothers would play for hours in there! Whatever my children needed in the way of play, costumes, accessories for their dolls or action figures , I created from whatever was handy.
Dolls of all sorts just followed me along the way.

©Lea St.Germain Photography

5. What kind of dolls do you collect?

Lea: Barbie, Blythe, Fashion Royalty, Lorifina, Pullip, Ellowyne. I have some very beautiful BJD dolls that I photograph bald as their eyes are so expressive. Whatever doll speaks to me.

Deb: 1 or 2 Barbies , my red head Blythe, a few Poppy Parker's are all working dolls.
They are very casually hanging around, sitting in their house waiting to model my next project.
I debox everything and immediately wash and comb the doll's hair, then she is dressed in a simple dress with no distractions, then I create!
©Lea St.Germain Photography
6. Do you have a favorite doll, or brand of doll to photograph?

Lea: Barbie, Fashion Royalty, Blythe, especially articulated dolls, I love movement and natural light!

Deb: I am not allowed to photograph anything! For some reason everything is always a blur!
©Lea St.Germain Photography

7. What inspired you to start using your dolls in your photography?

Lea: I was  hooked over 20 years ago as a teen when I found an original Blythe for 50 cents at a yard sale. She was all disheveled and so sad but underneath her cute little expression captivated me. My mom helped me carefully clean her and she has a place of honor in my collection. My passion grew from that moment and I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, produce soul and life and tell stories through my photographs.
©Lea St.Germain Photography

8. How did you get started making miniature items for your girls?

Deb: It's a life long addiction, I swear! I think I can make anything, or at least try! I used pallets found at work 15 years ago to make furniture, I thought I invented that until it became so popular! When you are living on a budget, you learn to make do and be very creative in all that you do. As Lea needed items for her photo shoots, my partner and I just started finding, refurbishing, and creating whatever she needed, including a 3 story town house all made by hand with no pattern, I am pretty proud of that piece! (below are images of the dollhouse :) )
©Lea St.Germain Photography
©Lea St.Germain Photography

9. What was the first item you ever attempted to make? Was it a success?

Deb: You name it, I have made it ! Sometimes it works sometimes it looks way better on paper!
The funniest item is Lea's doll fireplace! I decided I should make the basic fireplace, then have assorted mantles that pop on and off as seasons change, except I put so many little wooden trims to the front that unless it's puttied to the floor or wall it tips noticeably forward! So I decided that I created it leaning to get a better photo. Not all mistakes are lemons!
©Lea St.Germain Photography

10. How did you guys start collaborating as a mother and daughter team?

Lea: I started photographing dolls and mom has always filled in the backgrounds and details! She and her partner, Steve, are my Go To's for everything !
Deb: I say our store is the best collaboration possible!
Lea thinks and sees and we both imagine, then we create a story,
she with photographs and me with details.

Lea and her eyes keep me modern and simple,
when I border on the crafty edge she pulls me back!
My partner Steve works very long hours but never questions a cut I need or an idea and he knows not to interrupt the thought process by asking questions!
Just cut! And he does!
My sister Lisa and her husband, Steve, and my best friend Pauline and her husband, Dennis, scour vintage stores and thrift stores for usable lovely items,
they find treasures and send them to me, they never ask anything in return.
My partner Steve and Lea's husband Marty stay out of the way of the creative process.
They know better!
My son Dave just built his own tiny house and lives very frugally. His was the first email we received on opening day. It just said " That's neat." 
He gets it and supports us for trying!
Blinkydoll's Boutique would be nothing without Lea's eyes and all the family and friends who just do... and keep finding and never question why.

 11. Tell us a little bit about each of you:

Lea: I have my own photography studio, Lea St. Germain Photography.
My mantra in all things photo related is shoot clean, modern and well lit with natural light. I truly enjoy my work. Photography is a vocation, it's life long learning, it's never being satisfied with the ordinary! It's telling a story or creating a lifetime memory in each and every shot. Long after memories fade photography helps to recreate the moment. I would love to make a million dollars as a photographer, in this economy every penny is important. So my customers truly get a million times more from me then they could ever pay for.
Dolls, people, inanimate objects all have stories to tell,
I believe my photographs tell that story, and will live on.

Deb: I am a mom, first time mim (grandmom) and a life time "make-doer." I was taught "if you don't have it, make it, if you can't afford it figure out how!" I have dabbled in most crafts, mastered some, others didn't hold my attention. I love creating something from very little. 
Maybe there is an easier way to do things or I could make more money if I charge more, 
for me that's not doable.
I use what inspires me, I charge what I would willingly pay, and as for making my items, I love getting customer input because I feel if you are spending your hard earned money in our shop you should be free to customize as to your needs.
I am a doll collector and a person on a budget, I am very used to others not understanding why a person collects or what joy they get from it, or why you need a specific detail to make your scene complete. I totally get the peace and joy and quiet time that play brings.
So I want each and every customer to know they are buying from a shop that understands them and plays right along with them!
©Lea St.Germain Photography

12. Do you have any advice for aspiring doll photographers?

Lea: Pay attention to light and the effects of light. Add tiny details that enhance but don't detract from the photo.

13. Do you have any advice for aspiring miniaturists?

Deb: If you think you can do something then you can! Don't ever ever let someone criticize you for trying. Just keep trying. Don't ever stop imagining or playing.

©Lea St.Germain Photography

14. Who have been real inspirations to you in the realms of photography?

Lea:  My father. Growing up I was inspired by his photography tricks and skills. Later I was mesmerized by fashion and fashion magazine photography.
I love and admire the work of Annie Leibovitz and Herb Ritz.

15. Who have been real inspirations to you in the realm of miniatures?

Deb: So many people create beautiful items, but for me, I don't find inspiration from people. Rather it's a dolls expression, or the grain in a piece of reclaimed wood, the way vintage fabric feels and smells freshly laundered and line dried on a sunny day,. I wonder about the story behind each item I use. I imagine our dolls shopping at a life size Blinkydoll's Boutique and finding reusable lovely treasures. I imagine what a modern doll's home would look, how would she live.
Hopefully not full of pink plastic!
I imagine a life around each piece I make. This is why I like to create sets or simple versatile pieces to foster someone else's imagination.
I like to think they will be creating a story of their own with my pieces.
If a customer tells me the item is for a certain type of doll then I imagine her hands resting on the table. Are they tiny and dainty?
Then the table shouldn't overwhelm her. It's things like that that inspire me.
©Lea St.Germain Photography

16. Is there a “dream project” that you would love to do or a dream collaboration?

Lea: To get more commission work, especially in fashion photography.

Deb: To play and build something with my grandson, Emmett.
©Lea St.Germain Photography

17. What does your studio look like?

Lea: It's a doll explosion room, with book cases full of dolls and accessories from 1950's thru modern day. Lots of windows and french doors for light,
a large work table in the center somewhere under the present project!
And an almost 4 foot high 3 foot wide three story dollhouse full of lovingly made items.
I want the doll room that you see in magazines,the ones that apparently never gets used for day to day life, because they're always beautiful!
My ideas and limited photography time overrule daily organization.

Deb: It's a large room full of all sorts of fabric and vintage reusables neatly organized.
I need neatness when I work, and quiet.
I have vintage hats, an old, well-loved 1920s sewing machine stand that I perch my sewing machine on, that Steve rescued from someone's trash.
My faux fireplace is always lit because the flickering light pleases me . I have a tiny Christmas tree with sparkly high heels Lea made me that's lit too!
Paintings my step dad, an artist, painted for me and pictures he painted for my mom, both passed on, The paintings watch over me as I create.
I use 2 chairs, 1 a rescued Boston fire dept. captains chair with the metal tag still in place. It was a $5.00 thrift store find! Strong, sturdy and oh the stories it could tell!
The other is a chair on wheels that sometimes, for no reason,
decides to roll randomly across these 100+ year old floors.
My shelves were made from my oldest sons childhood bed.
My sorting table is made from all sorts of pieces and it works beautifully. 
It's quiet, and I can create without distraction.

©Lea St.Germain Photography

18. How long have you been photographing dolls?

Lea: Since I was 3 and used my fisher price camera to photograph anything and everybody!
Over 20 + years with a real camera.

19. How long have you been creating miniatures?

Deb: Over 50 years creating. At 9 years old, I created a Barbie carrier from a tissue box and string complete with pillow and blanket!
I thought it was pretty cool until my mom thought it was part of the weekly trash!
Then I switched to a green leather purse with shoe storage, pillow and blanket.
I guess my dolls were in need of rest!

©Lea St.Germain Photography

20. What kind of camera and lenses do you use?

Lea: Canon 5d mark 111. Canon L lenses, 24-70 mm; 85 mm; 100 macro

21. Do you have any camera/equipment recommendations for the beginner?

Lea: If you study light and the effects of light you can make any camera work for you. An iPhone can produce amazing pics if you know your light.
Personally I recommend canon cameras. For dolls and miniatures make sure it has a good macro lens.

©Lea St.Germain Photography


A HUGE thank you to Deb and Lea for taking time from their busy
schedules to answer my questions!

Right now, Blinkydoll's Boutique is having a special deal:

HOLIDAY SPECIAL"Shopping Day Extravaganza" fashion doll size and customizable ! For $10! The perfect little budget friendly gift!
©Lea St.Germain Photography


  1. Hello from Spain: I really like ecological creations for Barbie. Great interview. Keep in touch

  2. Great interview. It was nice to get to know these ladies better. That townhouse is wonderful! As are their other creations.

  3. I love Blinkydoll's Boutique! Deb is the sweetest (and most talented) lady ever. Their items are pure perfection and wrapped so beautifully...and reasonably priced. Thank you for providing the backstory for these wonderful ladies. I remain in awe of Deb's minis and Leah's photography. Wow!