Several weeks ago, I posted about a strange toothfairy doll that my dentist had. I was completely transfixed by it and wanted to learn more about the manufacturer. "Katherine's Collections" was local, but they turned out to be oddly cagey about their merchandise, which is only available via dealers. Even their website has limited access. I did a little research about the company and found their story compelling. I thought it might be worthy of a profile I could pitch, so I queried them a few times. They did not respond.
Even though the mysterious behavior only fueled my intrigue, I let it go. I didn't think more about it until I returned to my dentist last week and mentioned the doll and blog post. He said that Katherine's Collection was having their once-a-year open-to-the-public warehouse sale starting that day. I couldn't verify the sale anywhere online, but I hopped in the car anyway. Silver Lake is only about 20 miles away.
A temporary sign announced the sale. The lot was packed. Inside the warehouse, people were dragging boxes loaded with decorative finery up and down aisles of ... well ... stuff. I dutifully got a box and started the bovine trek through the cavernous warehouse. I didn't find any Oompa Loompas prancing around, but the merchandise was worthy of a Tim Burton set. Everything seemed to have a point of view. My fingertips hovered over the beaded purses. I perused the bins of shimmering ribbon.
The more closely I inspected the merchandise, however, the more frayed ends and damaged items I found. A darling pudgy harlequin ornament was missing a foot. Another beaded one was shedding its sparkles. Rhinestones were plastic instead of glass. I would be charmed by a figure, then disappointed in its quality. Everything I saw was manufactured in India or China.
But the masks uber-charmed me. Sequins and gold trim and feathers. Elaborate petals blooming from foreheads. They were just seven or ten dollars each. I started to shuffle through the pile. Many were damaged, but I persevered and found three I loved.
Then I came upon the larger dolls.
I loved their outfits and faces and hair. Many of them were about three feet tall--they were marked $80 to $150.
This one was garbed in Christmas finery, but I thought she looked like Laura Bush. She was marked $250 and (nearly) life-sized--that's my hand for reference.
All I had was my phone cam, which barely captures the presence of the dolls.
I ended up with a small mermaid. She is truly wonderful and perhaps a bargain for $8, providing I don't ponder the conditions under which she was manufactured. She'll be fine as long as I set her on a shelf and leave her alone. If we have a little girl as a guest, however, I don't think the mermaid will last very long. She's beautiful, but made with the cheapest textiles.
The same is true of the masks. There are telltale holes in one mask where some accoutrement has already fallen out, another has tears in the backing.
It's tragic that the brilliance behind this success is dulled by mass market shoddiness and the question of Asian working conditions. I can only imagine how breathtaking these creations would be if they were carefully handmade with quality components.
Note to self: don't sell out.
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