What started as fulfilling one simple request from a parent has now turned into a booming nonprofit business for one Wisconsin mom, who sews lookalike dolls for children with illnesses and disabilities.
In 2015, doll maker Amy Jandrisevits was asked by another mother to design a unique doll for her daughter, who had lost her leg due to amputation.
When Amy shared an image of the amputee doll on her Facebook page, she was soon inundated with orders and requests from other parents who wanted their own children to have dolls that looked just like them, differences and all.
Something for everyone: Amy Jandrisevits, 46, is a doll maker in Wisconsin who works from her dining room
Inclusive: She creates customized lookalike dolls for children who don’t see themselves represented in toys on the store shelves
Unique: Amy creates dolls to match a child’s skin condition, amputation, illness or disability so they, too, can have someone to hold onto who looks just like them
‘Differences make kids feel isolated and judged,’ Amy told People. ‘With the doll, a child sees, “I am not the only one who looks this way…and beautiful enough to be a doll.”‘
Represented: ‘With the doll, a child sees, “I am not the only one who looks this way…and beautiful enough to be a doll,”‘ Amy said
Amy owns A Doll Like Me, where she creates custom dolls that look just like the child who will receive them.
The orders are mostly done for children who won’t find dolls that look like them in stores, due to health issues that make their faces, limbs, or skin look different.
‘Scars, birthmarks, limb differences, skin coloring, medical equipment… those are all things that you rarely see in dolls, but for kids who have those, it’s everything,’ Amy said.
Typically, Amy charges around $100 to make each doll and ship it to a person’s home.
But when a parent is unable to afford the full price of the doll, Amy will then cover the rest of the fees from her own pocket — and generous donations from others.
‘I am a doll-maker who feels that every kid, regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, medical issue, or body type, should look into the sweet face of a doll and see their own,’ Amy explained on a GoFundMe page she set up for her business.
Money earned with the GoFundMe page goes directly towards families who can not afford to pay the full cost of a doll for their child.
Busy bee: Amy makes the dolls in her own dining room, and now has a wait list of about two years for any customized item
Making it affordable: The dolls typically cost about $100, but Amy will waive the price for parents unable to afford the cost
Important: ‘I am a doll-maker who feels that every kid, regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, medical issue, or body type, should look into the sweet face of a doll and see their own,’ Amy wrote on her GoFundMe page
Incredible: Amy has sewn an estimated 400 customized dolls for children
Spreading the love: The money made from her GoFundMe page is used towards doll orders from families unable to afford the cost
‘It’s that important…if we truly want to talk about the overall health of a child, we need to promote a healthy and positive self-identity,’ the woman wrote when explaining why she covers part of the cost.
As of August, Amy has sewn an estimated 400 customized dolls for children from her own dining room — all while balancing her role as a mother with three children at home.
The interest in her business has grown so much that Amy now has a waiting list of two years for people looking for a unique doll for their own children.
But she will move prospective buyers to the top of the list for any child with a terminal illness.
‘Ultimately, I don’t want any parent to have to pay for something that’s so important. If we’re going to look at mental health as a necessary part of medical care, this is key,’ she wrote.
‘My ultimate goal is to fulfill every doll order that comes in and not have the families have to pay for it. I think that a doll is a tangible way to show kindness.’