Friday 30 September 2016

Etsy Update: September 30th @ 7pm EST

inEssence Creations - Sydney Dress; Bella - Minifee Rheia

Hi everyone!

To round off the anniversary funness, I'll be updating my Etsy shop tonight at 7pm. Unfortunately, it's not going to be as giant as I had planned due to some irritating issues with prototyping. My apologies for that. :(

However, there are still some new items and older designs in new fabrics going up (and a lot of purple! and Bisou Ai stuff! Finally!), so I hope you'll enjoy. <3

Hopefully I can work out the kinks in the other items and have them out soon. Until then, thank you all again for your support. It means more than I can say. You are amazing. <3

Monday 19 September 2016

Mini Giveaway: Art Contest!

Hello again everyone!

It's time for another 5th Anniversary Fun Fair activity!

This one is a little bit more work for you, but hopefully still enjoyable - the challenge is to draw one (or more if you're feeling ambitious ;P) of my 4 character dolls. It doesn't have to be coloured, you can do chibi, realistic, draw them as cats, up to you! The most important thing is that they be recognizable as the character you are depicting - so pay attention to Mali's hair and Bella's bitchface, but feel free to get crazy with Tobi's hair and outfits.

To help you out (because I am a fail and don't post about my girls very often) here's a photo of each of them and a few words to describe their personality. For more in-depth information, you can also read the answers to the 20-ish questions set I posted a while ago: [link], or check their '10 Facts' on the 'About my Dolls' tab.

Mali - Minifee Shushu, Tobi - Unoa Lusis, Bella - Minifee Rheia, Jonas - Bisou Ai Bonbon

This giveaway is only open for 5 days from September 19th-23rd. Entries will be taken on Instagram: #inessencedrawme, or you can post it wherever and comment the link here.
** Contest has been extended to September 26th because weekends**

The prize is the winners choice of one of three custom items: a custom wrap bracelet, or a custom cropped (or regular length if you prefer) shirt, or a custom butterfly cardigan.* Wrap bracelets can be made for any size, but the top/cardigan is only available for MNF. 

I will be picking my favourite entry, so this will not be a random draw like the big giveaway. This is meant to be just for fun, so please be respectful of others and above all, enjoy yourself. Please don't stress. <3

*I might be willing to make something else around the same price point if you really have your heart set on a different thing. ;)

Thursday 15 September 2016

5th Anniversary Giveaway Winner!

Hello potato friends!

Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway! Your support means the absolute world to me and I'm glad I can give back in this small way. All of your responses were so thoughtful and it was interesting to see the variety of outfit ideas you all suggested. I wish I could make everything! DX

That being said, I'd like to announce the winner:


Congratulations! I'll be sending you an email later today, so keep an eye out. :D I look forward to seeing what you dream up.

For anyone who is disappointed I hope to hold other giveaways in the future so there will likely be more chances to win. <3

Additionally, check back on Monday for another announcement. ~(^3^)~

Thank you again everyone, you are seriously all so amazing.

<3 Melissa

Winner was picked via random name generator, if you have any issues with this, please take it up with the math gods.

Thursday 1 September 2016

Now Open: 5th Anniversary Giveaway!

Hello everyone!

While my storefront has been open for far less time, I started taking commissions on DoA 5 years ago. To mark this anniversary, I've decided to offer a special full outfit commission including one prop and one accessory (+regular shipping*).

'Full outfit' can mean say, a top, pants, jacket and some jewellery, or maybe a dress, a sweater and a hat. I'm fairly loose on this definition, so you can be creative. :)

This giveaway is open to anyone, in any country, but I can only make items for dolls I have (unless you want to send me your doll :p). The dolls I have at home are: B-Line, A-Line, M-Line Minifee girls (small, large, and full busts), LittleFee, Bisou Ai, Maskcat Special Size, and Azone Picco Neemo.

The giveaway will be open from September 1-September 14 at 11:59. I will put all the eligible entries together and draw for the winner on September 15th then email them to start discussing their outfit.

I will announce the winner here and on my Instagram page.
If I do not get a response by September 18, I will draw a new winner.

Please keep in mind: this commission may take a few months to complete - if you are not okay with waiting this long, please do not enter.


How to enter:
  1. Fill out this form completely: [link]
    • To make it fair to people who follow me on different platforms, I will not be accepting entries in any other form.
  2. Go do a fun thing.
  3. That is all.

I am being very flexible about what kinds of items you can request, but please keep in mind that I am doing this for free and on top of everything else in my life, so there are some things I will need to pre-veto in order to get your items to you in a timely fashion and with my sanity intact.

These include:
  1. Shoes
  2. Replicas of another artist's work
  3. Extensive embroidery/embellishment
  4. Bodysuits/leotards with designs on them
  5. Lots of hemmed ruffle layers
Other than these things, I'm willing to work with the winner to come up with a feasible outfit - so go forth and design! I look forward to reading your messages. ^^

*If you want tracked shipping you'll have to pay for that yourself. Sorries!

Thursday 25 August 2016

5th Anniversary Extravaganza!

Good aftermorning lovely people!

We are creeping up to the 5th anniversary of my little shop (how did that happen?!) and I wanted to do something to thank everyone who has supported me over the years. Since I don't remember the exact date anymore, I've just decided the whole month will be full of cool stuff.

Mostly it's just three things... not really an extravaganza. A fun fair maybe? That sounds more right.

  1. The first half of the month I will be hosting a big giveaway. There will be more information here on the blog closer to the date - I'll be posting a notice on Instagram (and maybe Flickr... does anyone still use Flickr?), but you can only enter here on my blog.
  2. Once the winner of that is decided I'll be hosting a little giveaway - but you'll need to do some work for this one. ;)
  3. At the end of the month there will be a huge Etsy update with lots of new stuff - new designs, old designs, and new-old designs. Hooray!

So get ready, it's going to be crazy. I might explode. @.@

Thank you all for coming on this insane journey with me, I hope you're all doing really well. <3

Monday 15 August 2016

Etsy Update: August 20th @ noon EST!

First draft using current habits, and old pattern.... ^^;

Hello everyone!

I've finally carved out a little bit of time to sew while we wait for contractors to get back to us and will be posting a few items up for sale on Etsy. There will be long MNF butterfly cardigans, wrap bracelets, and (barring any catastrophes) Minifee Puff shorts! These are an old design I decided to revisit. They gave me a bit of trouble because I made the pattern a long time ago before I started using my current 'best practices' so it's taken a bit of tweaking to figure out what I was up to with the original. Oops!

Anyway, mini update will be on Saturday August 20th at noon EST. Hope to see you there! :)

Monday 8 August 2016

Renovations + a New Studio Space

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably already know that we've started renovating our new house. Mostly it's just been painting and switching over the old light switches to ones we don't dislike, but we've also been planning some bigger renovations and are in talks with some designers to move forward there.

One closet gone, next one on the way!

The biggest thing so far has been my new studio space. Because I am spoiled and eternally lucky, I'm taking over two rooms upstairs. One was originally a bedroom... and the other one... well. It... uh... had a bed in it? I don't really know its original purpose as it was quite small (a twin bed took up most of the room) and it also has a door to a deck on the roof, which... seems odd for a bedroom to have? So who knows.

Both closets gone, wall and ceiling filled in, and fully primed. :)

We took out the closets in between these two rooms and have fixed up the walls and ceiling and primed and painted base coats on almost everything. The only major construction thing left is the flooring, as there is now a big space in the middle of the room where the closet wall used to be that has no floor. Once that's done I can finish up the painting and fetch all my materials from their basement prison! Yay.

The room is really big now... and to be perfectly honest, it feels a little TOO big, but there's not much that could be done about that with how the rooms were arranged... so poor me. :p I'm sure once my chunky furniture is stuffed in there it will feel a lot smaller, but regardless, I'm really looking forward to getting it all done and being able to get back to sewing and crafting!

I'll be sure to share some photos when it's completely done, but for now, thank you so much for bearing with me through all this! <3

All painted, carpets removed, and floor ready to be fixed up!

P.S. If you read this far, I love you and keep an eye open on August 25th for an awesome announcement. <3

Thursday 23 June 2016

10 Facts: Me (because why not?)

So I randomly decided to so one of these for myself... because... I don't know why. But here we go anyway!

Name: Melissa
Age: mid-20s
Birthday: January 11th
Favourite Colour: Green (generally more yellow/brown toned shades)
Myers-Briggs Type: INFP - Turbulent

1. I am 5' 1" (or 155 cm).
2. I can (usually) understand conversational French and Spanish but can't speak or write either.
3. I have a small tattoo on my knee from where I accidentally stabbed myself with a pencil.
4. The smell of wet peanut butter makes me sick to my stomach.

5. I am lactose intolerant.

6. I have central heterochromia (the most boring kind, but still) - the outside of my irises are blue and the insides are yellow.

7. I went to school for business and sociocultural anthropology.
8. I am really afraid of moths and grasshoppers.

9. Crowds and interacting with strangers make me really uncomfortable. My ideal living-space would be somewhere like York, UK or similar, where there are people and lots of interesting shops and things all within walking distance, but you're not expected to actually interact with the people... just sort of... be around them.
10. Cold rain and wet shoes/socks are things 100% guaranteed to put me in a bad mood. The weather affects my mood and motivation a lot, but wet shoes, just... ugh.

Thursday 9 June 2016

Backyard Photo Sessions

We finally moved in to our new house last week and I've been taking advantage of a nice photo spot in the backyard that works really well for Bella and Panaba. There's a patch of elfin thyme (which I might add to in the future ;) ) and a tree with moss and a nice bark texture. It's a huge tree so it's not really in scale, but still works. :)

Panaba got the first shot at it when I brought her with me to water plants. Investigating baby strawberries and the super tall tree. She's going to have a lot of fun here - just have to hope she doesn't meet the live raccoon that lives nearby!

Bella got some photos today too when starsarerobots came to visit. She looks really badass and it's a tad annoying. ;P She needs a new face-up soon but she's still rocking everything. I love how her hair was blowing in the wind here. One of the perks of alpaca wigs ~

I still don't have any photos of Bella and Panaba together outside, so I guess that's next! Overall I'm really happy with a lot of the photos from these shoots, so expect to see lots more until I find a new spot. ;) Need to upgrade my photo editing program because it's blurry on my new computer, so apologies if any of these are a tad out of focus. -.-;

This is my favourite photo from the whole set. It just fully encapsulates Bella as I see her - intense, strong, and effortlessly gorgeous. Every time I see this photo it's just... yes.

Rheia is such a beautiful sculpt. I'm so glad I was able to bring her home. She is so expressive and can flip between pensive and serene and firey and vicious with a slight change in angle. Bella specifically is always intense. I hope to continue developing and sharing her character with you all as we continue settling in. <3

Monday 6 June 2016

Doll North 2016 Recap

So, I wasn't initially going to attend Doll North this year, and ended up planning it super past-minute. Despite some of the hiccups that caused I'm really happy I went. I got to meet so many wonderful people and do a lot of fun things - including my first ever Doll North game, and second-ever Doll North panel. :D I've also learned that I really need to plan things out better and that I'm not the kind of person who can just wing stuff, as well as apparently being really bad at travelling on my own... but that's okay. :p

On to the recap!

Merrydollround Strawberry Mousse
Merrydollround Strawberry Mousse

I left really early on Friday morning, but ended up missing my first bus and then having to stop halfway because I was feeling really sick (woo fainting on public transport~), and didn't arrive until the afternoon. When I got to my hotel they informed me that I'd actually booked in their sister hotel a half hour away... super - border hotels with similar names are not so much the best. Thankfully some amazing people on DN staff were able to find me a place to stay (starsarerobots and bumblebeeena I adore you both), and the rest of the day went really well.

At the end of the day I went and helped out with the open crafting event where people could do sewing projects, make wigs, and do other crafting stuff. Met a bunch of new people (and got exactly 0 sewing done XD), and then went out to dinner with a bunch of friends, new and old. Next time I'll be sure to try out some of the other projects instead of getting distracted.

Saturday my roommates and I were up bright and early and just chatted until everyone else got up. They're all super wonderful and I couldn't have asked for a better group of ladies to share a room with. This was my first time attending Doll North as an attendee by myself. I've been before, but I was always either with someone and just stopping in, or selling, or entering a contest, and always had something very specific to do. So this year since I only had a DN ticket, and wasn't selling, or entering anything... I didn't really know what to do with myself. Kayteelizz asked me to get her a little Mousse from Merry Doll Round so that was first thing on the list. I got a chance to catch up with resinmuncher waiting in the line up, and spent a lot of time chatting with merrydollround, itsfansea, moretticircus, and elzamine afterwards and taking photos of the marketplace booths.

Harlan - Withdoll Luna hybrid
itsfansea's entry into project runway.
(I'm not actually sure who won?)
And then after that... I did the same thing again. XD Saturday was a very strange day if I'm being honest. BUT! I got to (very briefly ;-;) meet the ever lovely pettook!! It was really amazing to finally meet her in person even if only for a short time. Hopefully I can see her again someday. Eventually got my hands on a program though and was able to go to some events~

Picked up some lunch for people who couldn't leave their booths and got to take some photos of Project Runway (they're up on the Doll North facebook page if you'd like to take a look). That was interesting. :) The theme this year was Heroes vs. Villains and so the main supplies for Project Runway were comic book pages! Super cool entries. :D I also tried my hand at my first ever DN game BJD bingo... didn't win, but the game was really well constructed (webpage and everything! so fancy) and I had fun. Then was the Merry Doll Round Q&A panel! Despite the few technical glitches, I think it went really well. It was really interesting hearing the backstory behind the company and learning where Nuria finds her inspiration. I thought of a dozen more questions later on that I wish I'd asked at the time... but maybe I'll get another chance. :)

Kaye Wiggs Maurice
Little Kaye Wiggs Superman
for the Masquerade
Sunday was a bit of a whirlwind. I spent most of the morning immersed in the masquerade. The FFX Lulu entry won first prize in the 1/3 category, Princess Zelda took the 1/4, and little Alice took the Yo category. :) All well deserved! Then a bit more floating around for me before the masquerade was announced and the charity raffles were drawn (also didn't win, but eviltofu got the Lillycat girl I had my eyes on, so I'll just have to come visit her more ;p). After that I had to pack up and head out to catch my train home. I was really sad to leave this year and really miss everyone (starsarerobots and opalescent_raven I need to steal you next time for a proper dinner! And maybe I'll even be brave enough to get some photos with people ;) ). I know for sure now that I'll be going to DN again next year, but I don't know in what capacity. Regardless it should make planning and travelling easier now that I know the routes.

Once I got back home it was back to packing for our move. We've just got settled in to our new house so I'll have some time unpacking to think about what I want to do for next year. I hope to see everyone again in 2017 and maybe some new faces too! <3

Monday 2 May 2016

10 Facts: Jonas

And last, but not least, my sweet baby Jonas.

Full Name: Jonas Eliza [Lastname]
Age: 4-5
Birthday: November 8th
Favourite Colour: Pale Blue
Myers-Briggs Type: INFJ - Turbulent

1. She is Tobi's youngest sister and the actress of the family.
2. She is actually really shy and uses her acting as a way to connect with people.
3. She can mimic accents really well, which has a tendency to freak people out.
4. Doing mazes is one of her favourite pass-times.
5. She's very enthralled with pirates and lions, but hippos and teddy bears are her favourite animals.
6. Her favourite snacks are macadamia nut cookies and candied walnuts.
7. She has never met two of her older sisters.

8. She sneaks coffee sometimes, even though she's been told not to drink it.
9. She really likes vehicles of all kinds (trains are best though) and is amassing a small collection of model cars, trucks, trains, and boats.
10. Mali was the one who taught Jonas to read; Jonas absolutely idolizes her.


I posted this on Instagram a while ago, but here's a little extra! Dream Selfys of Jonas and Tobi's sisters:

Friday 29 April 2016

We're Moving!

If you follow me on Instagram, this is probably old news, but my fiancé and I are doing fancy grown-up things and recently purchased our own house!

It's pretty intimidating.

We have a few renovations to (hopefully) do before we move in but we should be all settled in at the end of June! So soon. @.@

This means all kinds of packing (nooo.... :( ) and running back and forth between our old place and the new house, and lots of painting and decorating and contractor wrangling, so probably a lot less sewing.

Good news is that I will still have a studio space, and it has lots of windows and outdoor areas to work (roof deck attached to studio room? umm... yes please!) and we will have a back yard and a forest as a next door neighbour, so I hope that will push me into taking a lot more photos this summer. :D

I hope to post some photos of my new space once it's all pretty-ed up, so there should be tonnes of things coming soon.

And now... back to phoning all the people ~!

Sunday 24 April 2016

New Item: LittleFee Cotton Pants!

Hello everyone!

I've been working on fixing up a lot of old patterns recently and delved back into sewing for tinies. The first new pattern is a scaled-down version of my Minifee Cotton Pants in LittleFee size. I've got a couple finished pairs and will also have 3 spots for custom orders.

They'll be up on Sunday May 1st at 3:00pm for anyone who is interested.

inEssence Creations - LittleFee Cotton Pants

I'll also have some new bracelets up at the same time, so keep an eye out for those. :)

Hope you're all doing well! <3

Sunday 10 April 2016


Hello everyone!

Welcome to the first timely inEssence Creations Suggest-a-Thing event-ish-thing! Yay!

I've got a billion ideas buzzing around my head at the moment and it's quite difficult to pick what to work on next - so I thought I would see what kind of things you would like me to make and pick that way. :)

If you would like to suggest a thing leave a comment here, on Instagram, or Flickr (or all 3) and let me know! You can suggest remakes of things I've made before, or maybe a remake but in a different size or fabric, a fabric you want me to use (links: skirts and dresses / pants / knits), or something entirely new! I really want to hear people's ideas.

Just so you're forewarned: the one thing you can ask for that will definitely not get done any time soon is remakes of the Sumomo skirts. I've made 16 of them in the last few months and need a bit of a break. :p They're not going away forever, though, so don't fret.

Dino cardigans are on the way, and I have a few other things being prototyped, but after that anything could happen!

Hope you're all doing well and I'm looking forward to your suggestions.

Thursday 24 March 2016

10 Facts: Tobi

Tobi's turn! Not sure if this photo quite captures her bubbliness, but it certainly captures her colourfulness!

Full Name: Tobermory Rhianna Jaxon [Lastname]
Age: 18-19
Birthday: June 21st
Favourite Colour: Lemony Yellow
Myers-Briggs Type: ENFP - Turbulent

1. Tobi comes from a big, artsy family. She has 2 older sisters and 3 younger sisters.
2. She is a terrible chef and baker (seriously, it's a talent), but is very good at making food look pretty.
3. Her bedroom is an absolute disaster zone.
4. She's not a very good swimmer and uses a floaty when she's in the water.
5. She doesn't really like chocolate.
6. She has a mild(-ish) fear of dogs, especially big ones.
7. She is allergic to shellfish (which is completely fine with her - she thinks they're icky anyway).

8. It often confuses people who know her how focused and organized she is when it comes to painting because she is excessively scatterbrained in every other regard.
9. Tobi is almost entirely ambidextrous.
10. She tends to be very oblivious to the feelings of others and doesn't always realize when she has hurt them.

Monday 14 March 2016

Etsy Update: March 19 @ 11:30am

Hello again everyone!

Commissions are done and I've been working really hard on my TODO list and making pretty decent progress if I do say so myself. I've had a few ehm... distractions pop up, but I think they've been fun and productive. There's a big stock of new things built up now, so I think it's time for an Etsy update.

inEssence Creations - M-Line Minifee Cotton Pants

Lots of cute colourful things for Minifee this time around. There are some M-Line pants, some tops, dresses, and remakes of the cute Rainbow Stars shorts.

inEssence Creations - Unoa/Littlefee Wrap BraceletAdditionally, all of the wrap bracelets will be available, there are a bunch in MNF size and some in Unoa size. The Unoa size also works really well for LittleFee, so might be good for other Yo-sized dolls too. :)

Storenvy has become really unreliable and until they fix a major issue, my shop there is entirely unusable. Once I can transfer all of my info, I might end up close my shop there. While I'm looking for other options, I'm going to be relying on Etsy. To test it out, there will be a few spots for custom wrap bracelets available in this update. So if nothing quite appeals (or is in the wrong size), you can order one made just for you!

Friday 4 March 2016

New Fabrics

So... I popped in to the fabric store today to get some more black thread... and came out with two new fabrics. This is in addition to the ones I picked up a few weeks ago during a fit of melancholy. I might* have a problem...

Anyway~! Here is the formal introduction of a few of the new lovelies. Hope you like them!

Lila (light version)

Seems I have a very strong tendency to name my floral fabrics English girl names... Should maybe work on that... Maybe.

*There is no 'might'. Only problem.

Tuesday 1 March 2016

Bracelets for Days~

The last few days I've been (a bit obsessively) making wrap bracelets again. I had a bit of a spree making them in 2013, but haven't made any new ones for about 2 years now (whoops!). Working with beads is so enjoyable! So far I've got a big pile of designs - including a few remakes of my favourites that ended up sold or as gifts for friends. I even remade my absolute favourite design twice so I can keep one for Bella. Totally making progress on the 'clothes for my dolls' resolution! Kinda!

inEssence Creations - Minifee Wrap Bracelets

I think my current favourites are the Navy and Gold, Pink Shell and Matte Bronze, and the two jumble pattern ones. I accidentally ended up with a lot of darker colour combinations, so I might try for a few brighter ones soon. We'll see what happens. :)


A new bead store opened up in my neighbourhood recently and is conveniently down the street from my doctor's office. They don't have much selection for me in general, but they had a few little ziplocs of beads around the right size. I'm going to check back again in a few weeks to see if they order them on purpose or if they were just selling leftovers. I got the little transparent silver beads from there and am totally in love. They're such a delicate way to add metallics without overwhelming anything.

I'll be putting them all up on Etsy sometime in the next few weeks along with some spots for people to request custom designs/sizes. It might take a while to get all the photos taken - it's been pretty gloomy recently, but hopefully I can get a whole bunch done in the morning when we get a little patch of sunshine.

If you want to know whether these will fit your doll you can take a measurement of their wrist circumference.

The A-Line/M-Line size fits wrists up to 3.3cm and don't fit LittleFee or Unoa.

The Unoa size fits wrists to about 4.2cm and works for B-Line Minifee and LittleFee.

Hope you like them!

Saturday 27 February 2016

10 Facts: Bella

Bella's turn!

Full Name: Isobel Ofelia di Villeña
Age: Early 20s
Birthday: March 5th
Favourite Colour: Green (generally more yellow/brown toned shades)
Myers-Briggs Type: ETSJ - Assertive

1. She has an older brother named Gian who is her best friend in the entire world.
2. Her parents are researchers who study the interactions between humans and their natural environment.
3. She was born in Japan where her father was giving a talk at a conference.
4. She is fluent in Spanish, Italian, Swahili, French, and English and can speak conversational Japanese. She speaks English with a slight accent.
5. Her maternal grandmother taught her how to knit and crochet. She's actually pretty good at it, but don't spread that around!
6. If you ever see a photo of her without her silver necklace, I have made a grave mistake.

7. She really doesn't like things that enclose her toes and goes barefoot whenever possible.
8. Her brother taught her how to play guitar and gave her the one she currently uses.
9. She is a very good cook and really enjoys making healthy food for people.
10. She hates the cold with the firey passion of 10,000 suns.

Saturday 20 February 2016

When Things Get Lost(?) in the Mail

NOTICE: This is going to be a bit of a melancholy rant-ish thing, so if that's not something you want to read, feel free to skip over it.

99% of the time when you ship something, everything goes perfectly how it should.

That last 1% of the time, is when things go wrong.

As a buyer, it's so frustrating to spend money on something and have it never arrive. It's one of the worst parts of buying online - just slightly behind something arriving damaged in my mind. But as a buyer, where do you draw the line? Who gets the blame if it needs to be assigned? The seller? - did they package it wrong? mess up the address? only say they sent it when they really didn't?; The postal company? Maybe the girl at the desk was new and screwed up inputting the shipping info. Maybe it got put in the wrong box and got squished in the machine, or fell behind a table and got misplaced; maybe it got delivered to your neighbour instead and they forgot about it; do you go all self-deprecating and blame yourself? If only you'd shelled out for tracking this wouldn't have happened?

But tracking - especially international tracking - can be prohibitively expensive, sometimes 3-5x more than regular shipping*. So you take a risk.

As a seller... you're thinking about all of these things... but also - what do I do if something goes wrong? You want to do right by your customers. You're careful packaging, take the time to drop everything at the post office in person because it feels safer than putting it in the drop box, double and triple check addresses, and then cross every last bit of yourself hoping the buyer will let you know their item arrived safely so you can stop worrying incessantly. But the truth of the matter is, no matter how careful you are, the moment the package is dropped at the post, everything that happens after that is completely outside your control.

And that is a really scary thing.

So what do you do when something does go wrong?

Well... first you check your mailbox to make sure it didn't get sent back (even though this would be really helpful). Then you call or visit the post office and cross your fingers that the package just fell on the floor or something. But of course it didn't, because how could you be so lucky? Then you call the central post support lines and they tell you - in a very sympathetic voice - that there's nothing they can do, maybe wait a little longer it might show up, sometimes things just get a little lost, sorry about that. Well none of that is really helpful, but hey, at least you tried?

But you know there's a (justifiably) irritated person on the other end of this exchange - and you have no idea how they're going to react if you declare the package lost. They spent money in exchange for a product that never came! That's really, REALLY frustrating as a buyer. It makes you question the seller, and sometimes internet or international shopping entirely. And you know what? That makes sense. It's totally reasonable to be frustrated and skeptical - even if you can logically realize that the seller probably didn't do anything wrong, it's still difficult not to blame them, at least a little bit.

Honestly, this is terrifying. As I've already mentioned, once an untracked package is left at the post office, I have exactly 0 control over what happens to it. But I'm constantly worried that someone is going to blow up at me over a lost package (even though it's incredibly rare) or it's going to ruin that relationship or others as a result.

You can refund their shipping (which is often what I do) because even though you did pay for the shipping, it didn't actually happen so it's a nice gesture to do that even though you're taking a hit financially.

But what to do about the item itself? Some would say just refund the whole purchase or replace the item. And for bigger businesses or those that sell cheaper or mass produced things, that's really the best way to go if you want to preserve the relationships (and your reputation, though that is a topic that makes me feel rather awkward, so I'll leave it there). But for fully custom or OOAK items, or just higher quality things that take a lot of time to produce - that's often either not possible, or really unreasonable. This could be due to a lack of materials, or even just time. A single item could represent hours and hours of work that is just lost in an instant because of a shipping issue. You're not only losing out on the money from the item itself but also the labour, skill, and time that went into designing, prototyping, material sourcing, making, marketing, packing, and shipping that item and the hours and hours of practice that came before it.

Even ignoring those other things, a tiny $30 skirt could (and in my case does) represent 12+ hours of work just to construct, and is then sold at a substantial loss because who in their right mind would pay $180+ for a doll skirt?

And so, simply writing off an item and refunding the whole amount is like voiding an entire day or two (or more) of your life. And that can be quite devastating - both financially and emotionally.
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So you come up with other options: remake the item (if possible) maybe for half price (or some other discount), give coupons for other items, refund some portion (but how much?!) - but none of them seem right... someone is still losing out and you (if you're like me) are losing A LOT. Add to that that you can never tell which option is best for a given situation. The customer may just really want that thing they bought and are okay with paying for another one, or they might just have bought it on a whim and would rather have their money back, or are just annoyed and want the whole thing to never have happened, or they might be entirely reasonable and realize this is a thing that sometimes happens and take the financial hit, but leave a lot more wary of you as a seller, or sellers in your country or any number of other things regardless.

And all of this is going on assuming that the person on the other end of the transaction is wholly honest. I take that view because otherwise I'd never bother selling anything, ever. But there's always the possibility that the item did arrive and someone is trying to scam you.

To be honest, I've had 2 packages sacrificed to the postal system (maybe... one is still within the long-term limit and customs is a bum sometimes) and I hold out hope they will still show up one day, but this weighs heavily every time I ship a thing, even domestically. I strongly regret how I handled that first lost package a few years ago because even then I had a no-refunds policy but I let myself get guilted into it anyway. I literally burst out crying at the time because I didn't know what else to do. And even though I've had that experience, and attempted to learn from it I feel the same flood of emotions and fear every time I don't know whether an item has arrived or when I hear the message tone on my phone and I have items currently being shipped.

With all these thoughts paralyzing you, all you really want is for the item to show up SOMEWHERE (anywhere?!) safe and sound because you poured yourself into that thing and having it lost is just heartbreaking for so many reasons besides disappointing a customer. But what option is ideally best for the situation, may not end up being what happens because there are so many other things influencing the decision. Yeah, you should have some kind of standard practice that works for you so you can just go off the script. Problem is, you first have to write that script.

So what do you do when something - specifically a handmade, possibly OOAK - item gets lost in the mail?

Honestly... I have no idea.


*I was once quoted $80 and $200 for tracked shipping a teensy 30 gram envelope worth $25. For reals.

Saturday 6 February 2016

10 Facts: Mali

One of my New Year's resolutions this year (and last year...) is to share more information about my doll's characters.
So, without further ado, here are ten facts you probably don't know about my first doll, Mali. :)

Mali - Minifee Shushu

Full Name: AmaliaRayne Leah Jaymesen
Age: Mid 20s
Birthday: January 31st
Favourite Colours: Teal, Yellow-Orange
Myers-Briggs Type: ISFJ - Assertive

1. She is an only child.
2. She is a bibliophile through and through. If it’s got words and pages, she will read it.
3. She's not exceptionally enthralled with modern technology, she can use it fine, but would much rather write things by hand or read a physical book.
4. She really likes goldfish and sparrows.
5. She's a classically trained pianist and ballet dancer, but she doesn't do either much anymore.
6. Her favourite foods are chocolate and raspberries - and anything with chocolate and raspberries in it.
7. She collects books (surprise!) and teacups.

8. She has a very good relationships with her father. Her mother... not so much.
9. She doesn't like lizards very much, but snakes are fine.
10. She first met Tobi in an art class when she filled in for a life-drawing model who didn't show up.

    Friday 22 January 2016

    Photos from Spain

    Realized today that apart from some Instagram snapshots, I'd never shared any photos from my trip to Spain back in April. I took Bella with me because her character is from Spain (mostly) so I was excited to get some photos of her there. :)

    Bella - Fairyland Minifee Rheia
    This was taken about 45ft from the ground on a little lookout.
    The space to her right is just a straight wall down.

    I picked up this little guitar in Segovia. Bella already had a guitar (originally bought for Mali before I realized she plays piano), but the tuning pegs are broken and I haven't managed to fix them yet, so when I saw this one in a shop window I just had to get it. :) Now Bella has a proper Spanish guitar. ;) I'll eventually switch the strings so that they look more like classical guitar strings, but they're fine for now.

    Bella - Fairyland Minifee RheiaBella - Fairyland Minifee Rheia

    One of my goals for this trip was to try forced perspective... I don't think I super got the hang of it (Bella wasn't very stable and I hadn't brought a stand, so I was being really cautious), but some of them are pretty close. :)

    Bella - Fairyland Minifee Rheia

    The Merida aqueducts are amazing. Beyond amazing. The town itself is so-so (except for this one restaurant I forgot to write down the name of DX), but man, they are worth a trip.

    This is the first spot I really tried out the technique on purpose. It's... okay? lol I was very nervous because this is in a public park and there were so many people wandering around. The only place I could actually see the aqueducts was from the path, so the path it was. :p

    An elderly man stop to chat with me about it all... Unfortunately he was talking in really fast Spanish so I only caught about every third word. :/ Oops.

    I haven't edited many of the non-doll photos from the trip, but when I do, they might pop up in a new post. :) Hope everyone is doing well!

    Saturday 16 January 2016

    Custom Orders Now Open!

    Hey everyone! Custom orders are now open in my shop [link]. There are a few spots for butterfly cardigans, halter tops and dresses, and shorts and pants for Minifee - and even more fabrics than last time (I might have a bit of a problem ^^;). Go check it out! :)

    ETA 3:20pm: Looks like there may have been a problem with DNS redirects but it should be fixed now. I've updated a bunch of links just in case.

    ETA 10:30pm: Apparently today is cursed, Storenvy has been having problems too. If you've had any trouble trying to order things today, please message me and I can take your commission directly. I'm so sorry for any inconveniences. <3

    Thursday 14 January 2016

    Liebster Tag: Part 2 - Asking Questions and Recommending Things

    Time for Part 2 of Musume's tag [for Part 1, click here]. :) As mentioned last time, I'm fudging the rules a bit, but here are my 11 questions (+bonus thing) for anyone who would like to answer them, as well as some awesome people you should really check out.

    1. What do you feel your biggest dolly mistake has been since you joined the hobby?
    2. What is your favourite prop, accessory, or piece of clothing you have for your dolls?
    3. Is there something in face sculpts that continually draws you in? (e.g. pouty lips or big noses)
    4. Do you generally choose your doll's styling before or after they arrive?
    5. Is there something regarding dolls you wish you knew how to do? (e.g. sewing, face-ups, etc.)
    6. What is the story behind your doll-media username?
    7. What is something you wish was a bigger part of the doll hobby [in your area, if relevant]?
    8. What is your biggest pet peeve in the doll hobby? 
    9. Who are your three biggest inspirations when it comes to dolls? (They don't have to be doll people)
    10. Have you ever bought a doll or [expensive] outfit/accessory on impulse? How did that turn out?
    11. The apocalypse has come and you can only save ONE of your dolls. Which one do you pick? (Seriously. Only one, none of this 'I can't possibly choose' nonesense).
    I'd also like to re-point people to my 20-ish Questions doll character questionnaire. It's a really in-depth set of random questions to get you thinking about your characters in new ways. You can find it here: [link].

    Even though there are tonnes of people I'd like to recommend you check out, I'll stick to the 11 people limit from the tag since I'm already fussing with it. Most of these people have presences on other sites, but I'm just going to link the places where I follow them most. I'm going to leave another link for Musume up here, because she was the one who tagged me, definitely check her out - she does really useful and interesting interviews and is also a fellow hand-sewer who makes some really stylish stuff!

    RECOMMENDATIONS: (in no particular order)
    1. Revilis (Flickr) - Her photography has so much movement and emotion in it, something that I would love to learn how to do.
    2. Yenna (DeviantART/personal site) - Yenna is a pretty big presence in doll photography. Even if you don't recognize her name, you'll likely recognize some of her photos. She does atmosphere like nobody else (except maybe Mizya, who I'll link too, because they do a lot of things together). They are also both excellent seamstresses and have made some really beautiful and inventive outfits.
    3. Lightly Battered (Flickr) - I only recently discovered Lightly Battered's photography, but immediately went through her entire Flickr stream. She does amazing photostories filled with so much detail. I really want to be able to do this some day. Have to start practicing, she is a master!
    4. Roterwolkenvogl (Flickr) - Roterwolkenvogl has some of the most intricate outfits for her characters, and always has such life-like posing. Her stories are also really fun to read - SO MANY CHARACTERS! @.@
    5. Denaliwind (Youtube/Instagram) - Alicia is, I think, one of the gems of the doll hobby. She's incredibly sweet and does really lovely face-ups (this Shushu is a personal favourite), but she also has two storylines that have absolutely captivated me. Even though I was a bit sad to see two characters switch over from their original roles, I still wait impatiently for every little bit of news.
    6. Antique Lilac (personal site) - I really hope this is old news for everyone, but if not, get yourself over to Martha's website. She takes really wonderful photographs of both large and small dolls, and makes some really beautiful outfits. I'm generally more partial to her larger scale outfits, but her little ones have some gorgeous dresses. Also, free tutorials.
    7. Emmr (Flickr) - Emma's been doing a few of the doll-a-day challenges the last few years and her photography just keeps getting better. She's excellent with posing and character interactions. AND! she owns my most favourite MNF Rena of all time. :)
    8. Inkyghosts (Flickr/Instagram) - Chanel is no only a wonderful photographer, but she styles her dolls just flawlessly. They always look amazing, and their characters are intricate and fascinating. Her Folklore is one of my favourite MNF ever - and she's also a wonderful artist as well!
    9. Wiskebjd (Instagram/Youtube) - Wiske and I have become quite good friends over the last year and it's been wonderful to see her doll family grow and develop. She also started a Youtube channel recently where you can keep up with her massive dolly projects.
    10. underthefern (Instagram) - Carolina is one of an ever-increasing list of Spanish doll artists that I need to keep an eye on. I first found her through her art Instagram, where she posts the most beautiful drawings, but she's recently started a dolly-focused account and I simply cannot get enough of her delicate outfits.
    11. RenMaaru (Flickr) - RenMaaru is a big sewing inspiration for me, I love everything she makes. Her newest characters also have a really interesting backstory that's been unfolding - definitely check her out.
    *Rikkistar was originally on my list, but because Musume linked to her too, I figured I should pick someone else. ;P **
    ** This is totally not a ploy to get more people on the list... what are you talking about!? >.> <.< >.>

    ETA: Because I am a forgetful jerk, I need to point you to starsarerobots (Flickr/Instagram/personal site), because she is not only an awesome photographer, and person in general, but also she's amazing at noticing when my shop is doing weird things or I've messed up a link. So go look at her photos because I <3 her and she has pretty colourful lovelies. I wish I had enough money to pay her to take sales photos for me. :p

    Monday 11 January 2016

    Liebster Tag: Part 1 - Answering Questions

    I would like to thank the wonderful Musume of My Dolly Adventures for tagging me in this (check out her blog for interviews with awesome dolly people!!). I'll be a horrible person, and not actually tag anyone because I don't follow many doll blogs - and precious few with not many followers (also I am a chicken and too scared to contact some of these people), but I will include some links at the bottom to a bunch of people I think you should check out, if you're not already, and some questions to fill out for anyone interested, so hopefully that cancels out.  ^^;

    1. Thank the person who presented you the award and link back to their blog.
    2. Post the award image on your blog.
    3. Answer 11 questions posted by the presenter.
    4. Nominate 5-11 blogs with less than 200 followers.
    5. Create 11 questions for the nominees to answer.
    6. List these rules in your post. Inform the people you chose of their nomination by leaving a comment on their blog and link them your post.
    1. Have you learned any craft because of the hobby?
    2. Honestly... just going by 'learned' as an absolute, not really? I dabbled in so many things before dolls that I haven't really taken any up from scratch. I have, however, improved immensely at quite a few. I've gotten far better at sewing because of dolls, and actually learned to enjoy it (handsewing ftw!), as well as clay stuff, dioramas, and doll painting. I've effectively dropped 2D art at the moment though, and really want to get back into it in 2016. Pencil drawings used to be a big part of my life but have been getting less and less frequent since I got into dolls.
    3. Have you gotten a doll you thought you would never get?
    4. Umm... well. I never really thought I would end up with a Unoa. I'd spent a long time researching alternate sculpts until Tobi popped up on the marketplace. I also never expected to get a LittleFee. It had been on my list for a far future thing, just to try out sewing for that size, but I didn't think it would actually happen. I got very lucky with both of them.
    5. Do you have a preference for any BJD size in particular?
    6. Slim mini is my favourite size. They're big enough to have a presence but small enough they're not super heavy or taking up massive amounts of space. The only thing I dislike about this size is the lack of props and shoes and such available. It's the one thing that brings me back to pining over SDs and tinies.
    7. Do you collect any other type of doll besides BJDs?
    8. I have a little Azone Picco Neemo, but she's meant to be my Unoa's BJD, so I don't know if that counts. I'm more of a plush collecting kind of person.
    9. Have you ever "re-shelled" a character?
    10. Ehm.... yes and no? When Customhouse was doing their manic discount sales my friend wanted to order one, so I bought a Junior Ai Daria with her to offset some of the costs. I figured I could settle and make her Tobi but really expected it was not going to work - and it didn't. I painted her and made clothes and stuff in an attempt to force it, but she was never 'Tobi'. She got sold within a couple weeks after my friend decided she didn't actually want the other doll.
    11. What calls your attention first: the head sculpts or the body sculpts?
    12. Head sculpts for sure. I only really pay attention to bodies when I'm considering buying one, or if someone specifically points it out to me.
    13. Do you "research" the hobby? (find new releases, read reviews, find info about brands...)
    14. Yep! All the time. Musume's blog is great, and I get a lot of info on new Fairyland, Merrydollround, Iplehouse, Soom and many artist doll releases and WIPs through Instagram. Since the big DoA migration I've been pretty far out of the loop for other companies. :( When considering a new doll, I research intensely before making any decisions - owner photos, reviews, videos, hybrids, seeing them in person when possible, etc. Dropping so much money on a doll is pretty nerve-wracking so I'm always very careful before I make the final decision.
    15. Do your dolls have a back story?
    16. The four dolls I've expressly purchased (and my Picco Neemo, sort of) have a backstory. I've been working on it for a few years and the pieces are just starting to fall into place. Hopefully I can start sharing it properly soon! The other two (LittleFee Chloe, and MaskcatDoll Belina) have a sort of... personality? that makes me gravitate toward certain styles, and feel odd dressing them in certain things but no backstory or specific character.
    17. How do you take photos of your dolls: go outside, prepare a big setup, or just snap in any place?
    18. Outside is where my favourite photos are generally taken, but it gets really cold here, and some of my dolls aren't the best posers (even with stands) so I tend to stay inside more than I should. The last while I've been really lazy with photos and just take them wherever, or in front of my little corkboard set up where I do sales photos. In 2014 I was taking a lot using computer backgrounds and they came out really well. My favourite photo of Mali was taken like that. But we've since moved the computer and this isn't possible anymore (my laptop screen isn't big enough). I'm hoping to get a few big photo sets done in 2016 so maybe I can move into the 'prepare a big set up' camp soon. I'd love to be able to pull off some of the things Revilis and Lightly Battered do.
    19. Which is your main avenue to enjoy the hobby? Blogs, videos, forums, social sites?
    20. Most of my enjoyment comes from making things for myself, which is quite disconnected from the social parts of the hobby. But otherwise, I think it comes from interacting directly with other people in the dolly world. Looking at beautiful photos and projects on Instagram, Flickr, and blogs is great, but it's not the same as having a real conversation with a real person.
    21. Have you done doll cosplay?
    22. Yes indeed! Tobi dressed up as San from Princess Mononoke for DN 2014. The outdoor photos are hiding in this album if you want to see: [link]. We also attempted a Vanille cosplay before that, but ran out of time to finish it. I hope one day to try again and do Vanille, Fang, and Lightning together, but we'll see. :) Jonas also needs to be something cute someday. ;)
    inEssence Creations - Minifee Princess Mononoke Cosplay

    And there you have it. ;P

    In addition to the questions, I said I was going to add my own questions and some recommendations for people to check out... but I think I'll put that in a follow-up post because this is quite long already.

    Friday 8 January 2016

    The White Dress

    I posted a WIP photo of a few items on Instagram just before the holidays and one of the dresses in the photo seemed to draw everyone's attention. At the time I figured this was just because it was basically the only thing you could actually tell what it was. :p But after finishing it and taking a bunch of photos, I'm not so sure anymore. It has a sort of... magnetism and presence to it that I haven't felt in quite a while.

    All of the photos of it turned out perfectly, which is really, really unusual for me (it's got 8 potential sales photos and 3 cute portrait shots, where normally 4 total is a struggle!), and I don't know... it's just. Something. :)

    inEssence Creations - 'The White Dress' Minifee Halter Tank DressinEssence Creations - 'The White Dress' Minifee Halter Tank Dress

    I don't have much of this fabric left, maybe enough for one or two more dresses (though I'll check the store and see if they have any in stock), so it's likely that this will be a limited item. I do, however have a bunch of other white fabrics from my grandmother and great grandmother that I've squirrelled away - so there will probably be more 'the white dresses' to come. :)

    Friday 1 January 2016

    Commissions Open: Jan 16th at 11:30am EST!

    Despite a few hiccups along the way, my wrists are finally feeling well enough that I feel comfortable taking on commissions again. I do want to make everyone aware that there is the possibility of them taking longer than usual if my wrists decide to prove me wrong. 3-4 weeks is a definite possibility, so please keep that in mind before ordering.

    Commission slots will go live January 16 at 11:30am EST (Toronto time) on my custom shop (link)
    They will not be available on Etsy.

    How it works: I have a few slots for specific items. You can order as many things as you want within this limit, but once the limit is reached that's it for the current round of commissions. You can see what is available here: (link), but not the limits, so if there's something you want snatch it quick, because the larger variety of items being offered means the limits are much smaller.

    This time around I'll have a few Minifee items from my Subtle Memory Collection available again: Skirts, Shorts, and Cardigans and a very small stock of Halter Tops and Dresses.

    Additionally, I will be offering some things from my new collection: Tempest. Tempest is still very new and most of the items are still being tested, but I'm very excited to bring you this little intro.

    For anyone who has been watching my Etsy store, this will be old news, but I've been working hard to perfect my pants patterns and will be offering a few custom slots for Minifee Cotton Pants in M-Line and A-Line sizes.

    Here are some of the prototypes I've made to get you thinking:

    inEssence Creations - Minifee Cotton Pants
    Minifee Cotton Pants in Adelaide
    inEssence Creations - Minifee Cotton Pants
    Minifee Cotton Pants in Aurora - Teal
    inEssence Creations - Minifee Cotton Pants
    Minifee Cotton Pants in Minicity
    inEssence Creations - Minifee Cotton Pants
    Minifee Cotton Pants in Bastas

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