Nakia Kammerzell makes the type of toys you can easily see a child loving for years. Her line of soft and sweet dolls, NakiaK Handmade, have the charm of old-school rag doll with a cute and modern sensibility.
Kammerzell, 32, started her company from her home in Lake Stevens, Washington in 2013 after she made a doll for a close friend’s baby. She’s been making dolls ever since.
“I have always loved giving handmade gifts to my own children and those of family and friends,” Kammerzell says. “The process of searching for the perfect supplies that reflect the individuality of the person I am making for gives me a sense of joy and fulfillment. To me, it has always felt so much better to give and receive something that has been made by hand rather than something that can be found on the shelves of any big box store.”
Now Kammerzell is making it easier for the rest to give loving handmade gifts. She tells us how she taught herself how to make these adorable dolls and the challenges of turning her talent into a business.
How do you make your dolls?
Each of my dolls and doll accessories are made with a combination of machine and hand sewing. I personally source all of the supplies that go into making the dolls as well as come up with the concepts and designs myself. I am inspired daily by my family: my children’s favorite books, their daydreams, music, art, our surroundings. I mix colors, prints, and different styles in each doll that I make to create something that I am proud to present to customers.
How did you learn how to make this type of doll?
I have always been crafty. Creating has always been a necessity for me. I learned to sew in my early 20s after a lesson from the mother of a close friend. Years later, while looking around for the perfect gift to give that friend’s new baby, I ran across an old paper pattern for doll making at a thrift store. I spent the next few months playing around with that pattern and moved on to creating my own patterns once I understood doll construction.
What were some initial challenges to getting your company off the ground?
I would say finding the time to create has been the most challenging for me. I am a stay-at- home mom with three children, two of whom are under 4 years old. I spend nap times and evenings after everyone has gone to bed at my sewing machine. Using social media has been great in getting my products seen, however, it does offer challenges when trying to convert people who “like” posts and photos into purchasing customers.
What sets your product apart from your other handmade dolls?
My family is multicultural [and] each of us have a different skin tone. Because of that, it is important to me to offer my dolls in a range of skin tones. If a customer doesn’t see what they are looking for on my website, they can always contact me for a custom order—I will do everything I can to create the doll they are dreaming of.
What do you love about your product?
What don’t I love about my dolls? [Laughs]
I love the fact that my dolls are sturdy enough to stand up to being played with by small children. Their faces are hand embroidered and baby safe. The accessories that are intended for older children can be removed and put away until a parent feels that their child is old enough for them.
[I also love my new line] Heirloom Loves. Heirloom Loves are custom dolls made using special textiles provided by a customer—baby clothes, blankets, socks, etc. These dolls will be entirely unique and each one will be one of a kind.
Want a chance to win a NakiaK Handmade doll of your own? Tell us who you want to give the doll to and why in the comments!