|Legend of Yesterday, Promise of Tomorrow|
|Written by Carie Ferg|
|Wednesday, 01 October 2008 00:00|
It may be the 85th anniversary of Alexander Doll Co., but for company president Gale Jarvis and vice president of sales David Morgenstern, 2008 has been another year to challenge themselvesâbuilding on the quality tradition that is synonymous with the companyâs name while pushing into new territories.Â âYou have to outdo yourself every single year or else your collectors are disappointed. Itâs nice that itâs the 85th year, but we didnât work any harder this year because [of that],â Morgenstern says. âWe have to work harder because our collectors are expecting more and more of us every single year.â
âEveryday is a challenge to maintain that history, yet create the future,â Jarvis adds.
Alexander Doll Co. works hard to maintain brand authenticity by using high quality materials and production standards. Quality issues once a problem arenât now, Jarvis says.
âWe do not take shortcuts,â Morgenstern adds. âTake a look at the underneath of the clothing, the hems and double-hems and the types of materials used. Thereâs attention to detail where you normally wouldnât see it.â
The doll companyâs hospital has also sustained Alexanderâs excellence through the years. âWe have a huge vintage business and reputation, so we know we canât just send anything out there. âŚ If [a doll] is not good quality and we have problems, we either have to repair it or take it back,â Jarvis says.
When the Alexander designersâcurrently a team of sevenâbegin interpreting an idea, they actually make a physical mockup, another reason Alexander dolls are top-notch. âLike you would expect from Madame Alexander, they start from scratch making dolls âŚ from pinups, and we take a look at actual handmade samples. We develop a bill of materials, and the designers and those we outsource to get together and cost out materials. Ultimately, about six or seven months later, you see a final product,â Morgenstern explains. âItâs a very long process because the attention to detail and materials takes that long.â
While faithfully continuing Alexanderâs legendary quality and authenticity, the team pushes the company forward into new territories. Jarvis and Morgenstern have been leading the company for nearly a decade now, and since theyâve been at the helm, Jarvis says it has âevolved tremendously.âÂ Once a company that focused almost entirely on a narrow collector base, the firm has become a multi-pronged enterprise using many channels to distribute product. âWe looked at our market, and weâve broadened it and expanded,â Jarvis says. âWhen we started, we had no cloth dolls; now we have cloth dolls. We had no porcelain dolls; now we have porcelain dolls. We have vinyl babies, and we have babies from $8 to $45 that are washable and playable; we never had those before. We never had zero-age grade; we now have zero-age grade on our babies.
Partnering programs with big names like McDonaldâs, Costco and Toys âRâ Us, as well as distribution channels available through the Internet, have helped broaden and create the Alexander Doll Co. brand name.
âThe idea âŚ is to get young girls invested in the brand [so they collect when they get older]. Without the cloth dolls, the play dolls and the opportunities at Toys âRâ Us, theyâre not going to know what Madame Alexander is,â Morgenstern says.
The 2008 fall line is a prime example of the modern Alexanderâs multi-faceted approach. Funky and fun âFancy Nancy Bonjour Butterflyâ graces the cover of the Fall Preview catalog, for example. She is a 9-inch cloth doll with a molded face who appeals to both young people and collectors. The first page flips open to âLittle Black Dress Cissette Trunk Setââa classic yet chic and stylish wardrobe accompanies the doll and trunk. Opposite the set is the Radio City Rockettes collection, including a Swarovski-crystal bedecked âCissy.â More pages reveal show licensed products with promise to be collector favorites, such as country yet elegant âOpening Night at the Grand Ole Opryâ and Alexanderâs first take on Elvis. Another page-flip yields holiday occasion âWendyâ dolls,Â recently reintroduced âTiny Bettyâ dolls and another Cissette trunk setâthis one Christmas-themed.
The remainder of the catalog is mostly dedicated to cloth dolls, such as Fancy Nancy, âEloise,â âMadelineâ and new this fall, the âWicked Witch of the West,â âGlinda the Good Witch,â âDorothyâ and âAlice in Wonderland.â âTheyâre of extraordinary quality. Although theyâre a play product, theyâre collectible, too. For example, most of these dolls have molded faces,â Morgenstern says. âThere was a void in the marketplace for a long time. âŚ Nobody made a quality cloth doll or hasnât for many, many years.â
The cloth dollsâ quality stitching, material and detail, Morgenstern says, is in line with that of their other dolls. âNobody makes a better cloth doll than Madame Alexander,â he asserts.
Interestingly, as Jarvis points out, Alexander Doll Co. started out by making cloth dolls in 1923. On this level and many others, she is staying true to her ultimate goalâpreserving the companyâs celebrated past while creating an equally legendary future.
Trackback(0)TrackBack URI for this entry