Do you have a childhood doll you'd like to restore and pass along to your child? Or maybe you'd like to fix up your mom's old doll and surprise her with it? If so, my Christmas Doll Challenge is for you! Over 3 days, follow along LIVE as I restore a doll so you can learn to restore your own. This is a FREE event (for now). Eventually I will probably start charging for the service. Join the group so you are notified when the challenge begins. The dates are TBA right now but the plan is to get this underway so we can all restore our dolls in time for Christmas and the winter holidays. Join the challenge below:
I wrote a bit in my last post about my husband, Jerry's, accident in the 1990s and our financial crisis that led me to start my own business. I'm SO thrilled to announce I have partnered with my mentors, Paul Counts and Shreya Banerjee, to create a whole course on the topic! I'm very proud to introduce Fast Cash Fundamentals Quick Income System. This is the first part of my new Expertise Empire Builder, Your Dream Business Incubator.
Fast Cash Fundamentals is a 6-module video course that dives deep into all the best, most up-to-date ways to make money fast. Need money for Christmas? Have surprise medical bills to pay off? This course will get you earning income as fast as TODAY. We also give you tips on growing your hustle into your own full-time business just like I did!
You will get lifetime access to the course, so you can go at your own pace, or binge it Netflix-style. We are so sure you're going to love this course, we guarantee it 100% ~ just contact us within 14 days to get a full refund if you're not thrilled.
Just for checking out the course you'll get my Top 20 Ways to Make Cash Fast report absolutely free AND you'll also get the first module for free so you can try before you buy! Click the button below to get started. The faster you start, the faster you EARN!
Around this same time last year I bought an ebook called The Artist's Freedom Formula by Lloyd Coenen. I paid a little extra for a mini course and Facebook group access. If you've been following this blog for any time at all you know I was plunged into online selling back in 1998 when my husband, Jerry, was disabled in an accident at work.
At the time I was working as an illustrator and graphic designer for a publishing company and working as a fine artist on the side. I had some success getting my work exhibited in Italy when I worked there one summer and I was building up my resume among local galleries, and even exhibited a piece at CAM (The Contemporary Art Museum) in Raleigh when he had the accident. We had just bought our first house and we were expecting our oldest son. In fact, that day of his accident I was wearing my "maternity" clothes (just pants with an elastic waist, I was so skinny back then) for the first time.
Jerry is fine now but at the time he lost $600 a month he was making in overtime before the accident. he was home on disability for three months. I did not get paid maternity leave. So, I was suddenly faced with the prospect of having to come up with thousands of extra dollars every month. I was pregnant, working full time. and Jerry needed quite a bit of care at first because he crushed both his hands and couldn't use them. I turned to freelancing and selling on the brand-new eBay site on the brand-new Internet. I worked at night after my full time job.
My eBay name is ab_art to this day because my plan was to sell my artwork on there. Unfortunately no one was buying. I turned to dolls, and that turned into my home-based business. I have always regretted giving up my art career, however. I also feel like I still don't really know what I'm doing, business-wise, even after 20+ years. I wanted to learn about running a business like a professional without actually having to go back to school and pay for another degree. So much of my business practices are pieced together because I learned one thing here and another there, always under a desperate timeline trying to raise quick cash.
I want to say here how much I love online courses and the people who teach them. They are a democratizing force in an increasingly unequal society. I've been taking courses constantly for a little over a year now and I've spent about $5000, far less than even a community college degree would cost. I've learned so much I am putting together my own series of courses. Sign up here to be notified when those are live; the first one, on how to quickly make income when you need it like I did after Jerry's accident, should be released in the next couple weeks.
So, I read Lloyd's book and took his course. I do recommend it if you're an artist. Lloyd provides a ton of value for free or for a very low cost. He does all kinds of live calls and really holds your hand through the technology aspect, which is where I'm weakest. I'm sure I disappoint Lloyd because he's always asking about my art business and I never have done much with it. I did start a Facebook page and Shopify site and email list but it's been really slow to take off, mainly because I don't spend much time on it or marketing it. You can find out more about my art and get some free artwork here.
But anyway, Lloyd's book introduced me to the idea of a funnel. Funnels are a marketing concept, basically emails or mini websites that "funnel" customers to your offer. That, in turn introduced me to ClickFunnels and a guy named Russell Brunson.
I have given so much money to Russell and ClickFunnels over the past year but I don't regret it! I took his Your First Funnel Challenge and became a founding member of his ClickFunnels 2.0 software site. Eventually that site will replace all my other sites. It's still very beta and I'm still very awful at the tech but they give THREE live training sessions every week in the Facebook group. I highly recommend the Your First Funnel Challenge if you see an ad for it. Once I found out about ClickFunnels I fell down a rabbit hole of online courses.
First I joined MindValley and took a variety of mindset courses and then I took Eric Edmedes' Business Freedom Blueprint class on setting up your business so you can someday exit it by selling it or hiring a CEO to run to for you. This was a great class but way beyond my level. I am nowhere near exiting my business, since I don't even have any employees. I have set up some of his recommended processes for the future, however.
Then Russell introduced me to Grant Cardone and I took his Unbreakable Business Challenge, attended 10X GrowthCon virtually, and then took a TON of other classes from him on everything from health to real estate investing. I am a member of his Cardone University 10X business class. Grant takes a little getting used to. He has never met a right wing conspiracy theory he doesn't love, which means he's sometimes hard for me to listen to, but he provides more free content than anyone else in the business. He and his team are constantly having free live calls and trainings, as well as sending all kinds of e-mails and free e-books. The only thing about 10X, for me anyway, is I don't feel like I have an advanced-enough business. My little service business isn't able to do a lot of the things they advise you do and I don't make enough money to hire anyone to help me. So, while I do recommend Grant and everyone at Cardone Ventures, I think you need a little more advanced business to get everything you can from their training. Definitely take advantage of all their free training, but wait until you've grown a little using their advice before you pay for more classes.
Then I took Russell's PLR (private label rights) class with Paul Counts and Shreya Banerjee. This has been a great course and I am the farthest on setting up those funnels because they're already made. The class is free but the paid group includes editable information products with funnels and emails already done that you can change and rebrand. The thing I don't like is a lot of the courses are videos that I can't see any way to edit, so it's hard to rebrand those. They add new products and funnels every month and also hold two live training classes. I've learned the most about making funnels from them and have one almost ready to go live.
Then Russell introduced me to Jenna Kutcher. Jenna is the person I most emulate because her business is the most like mine of all the teachers I've had. Jenna was a wedding photographer and she was very successful but her one-person service business was burning her out. I totally get that!
I've never built my business as much as I know I could because there are only so many dolls I can repair with my two hands. I did implement doll kits and tutorials a few years ago and that helped me grow a bit, but I still have to make the kits and write the tutorials. We have three kids, two of whom were adopted with special needs and the other was diagnosed with diabetes in 2017, so they have all needed a lot of therapy and medical care at various times. That part of my life is winding down; we have just one at home now. He's the most time-intensive, however, having been born with a cleft lip and palate and also being very athletic. He's currently on the high school cross country team, requiring me to wake up every morning at 4:40am to get him to practice. Today I spent the morning taking him to the dentist and back to school and I will spend the entire afternoon at his track meet.
But anyway, back to Jenna. Feeling overwhelmed, she took a course on creating online courses, and within a very short time period she was making 7 figures. She has since built an empire, with her Goal Digger Podcast, a collection of courses, and affiliate marketing. She quit the photography business and retired her husband. I've taken Jenna's free mini Instagram and Pinterest courses and her List Launch Lab course (at least the basic part). The LLL has a section for advanced businesses and I started those classes but the last one I took, on automated direct messaging, I will have to retake because it starts out with the teacher saying, "This is really easy as long as you know how to do (something or other I have never heard of) and create a zap on Zapier and..." And then I didn't understand any more of the words. She might as well have been speaking Greek!
But the basic class is very good and once I learn more or make enough money to hire a tech person I am sure I will get more out of the advanced version. Jenna introduced me to Flodesk, an email marketing software, and it has been very easy to learn. I started at the end of July and have grown my email list quite a bit. I have another paid class of Jenna's to take, another Instagram class, and I'll update you when I've finished that one. I can't finish that one yet because I am currently taking Amy Porterfield's Course Confidential class.
Amy Porterfield is Jenna's mentor and Jenna introduced me to her. So far her class has been very informative, There's a great Facebook group, very helpful. I also read Amy's free report on using AI with course creation and that's been very helpful.
In July Russell held a joint event with Pedro Adeo called the Challenge Secrets Intensive (or maybe Masterclass, I can't remember). I did the challenge and I'm partway through the class. I got distracted and wrote a book over the summer and published it. I do have plans to host my first challenge any day now; I'm going to try to speed through the rest of the Challenge Secrests classes.
I really like Challenge Secrets because Pedro is fantastic at helping you get past the tech issues. He calls funnels the "graveyard of broken dreams" and it's true. A year later and I STILL haven't managed a working funnel! The problem with all these classes is once you learn the principle behind it then you have to learn an app or a software.
So I started just trying to sell artwork and I had to learn how to set up Shopify and link it to Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. The Pinterest linking has never worked and Facebook and Instagram worked for a while but haven't for months. I'm actually thinking of closing the Shopify site because it's not selling enough to be worth all the hassle and it doesn't do what it claims. I also had to learn Printful trying to sell art. I've kind of got the hang of that but a few months ago eBay changed their shipping profiles and the Printful link hasn't worked since. And then there's ClickFunnels, which is an odyssey to learn. And I had to learn Flodesk. I had to learn to embed code and change DNS records on websites. I still need to learn the zap and Zapier thing...
The issue with every one of these classes except Challenge Secrets has been that I get all excited and motivated and start working on whatever they taught and then a hit a wall because I have to learn a whole new software and that stops me. So I have all kinds of half-finished things and then I also have my regular every day business with my 14 shops and doll hospital that is what is actually making me the money I live on!
Oh, and somewhere in there I took a mini course from Sabri Suby. I also ordered his Sell Like Crazy book but I haven't read it yet. I was disappointed with him because I spent a couple hundred dollars on "plug and play" funnels for Click Funnels but when I tried to plug them in I found out they don't work with ClickFunnels 2.0. Click Funnels 1.0 is being retired, so that was a waste of money. One of the staff did do a free coaching call with me that lasted like a half hour, but the person (not Sabri but an employee) kept asking me questions and then cutting me off and interrupting me when I tried to answer (I call that Manterrputing). At least I got something for my money I guess, but I would not recommend Sabri unless you confirm the tech he promises will actually work.
So, here's my recommendation: take Challenge Secrets FIRST. Pedro is now running some other class called Movement Makers and keeps sending me emails about how I shouldn't run a challenge until I take it, but to be honest that makes me kind of mad because I just paid like $1500 in July for his other stuff and I don't have the money to take another class BEFORE I can implement that one! Maybe if you take the Movement Makers class you will get a discount on the Challenge Secrets; I don't know, but I recommend you start with Challenge Secrets. I think Movement Makers is about imposter syndrome and feeling qualified to teach, and I already addressed that with my MindValley classes. I recommend Marisa Peer for that. Right now I'm taking her MindValley RTT class about reprogramming yourself through self-hypnosis essentially to overcome subconscious blocks that are holding you back. She has a lot of free exercises on YouTube, as does MindValley.
Mindset is really important and if you struggle with confidence, organization, procrastination, or other mental blocks you should probably take at least one course on that first. I was listening to Jenna's Goal Digger podcast and she was talking about how when she started her first course she's already been doing one on one personal coaching where people would consult with her in person or online... and she was charging for it! It hit me then and I felt like such an idiot because I've been providing that kind of counseling for decades for free. I see now it's because I didn't feel like my skills were valuable enough to charge money. However, if people are driving across the country to consult with you, as people have done with me, don't you think your skill is sought-after? Sometimes we can't see our own worth, so get your mindset right first.
But anyway, after Challenge Secrets I would take Jenna's List Launch Lab and start building an email list. Then I would take Amy's course creation class OR by that time my business incubator should be done and you can take that! Then I would take the First Funnel Challenge or the PLR class and learn to build funnels, once you actually have a product to sell. THEN I would move on to Cardone University or the Business Freedom Formula to grow your business. My classes are going to have a heavy dose of tech help and I may do standalone courses on just one of two apps or websites.
So, let me know, have you taken any of these classes or events? Which was most valuable to you? What do you wish you'd learned?
Here I am, once again, begging you to replace your own doll bodies using my tutorial! I spent the weekend making this Vogue Baby Dear doll's new body and replacing her eyes. This repair was a nightmare, even more than usual. The doll owner's mother had reattached the head after it fell off with a piece of wire back in the 1960s. It was all entangled and fused in places in the fabric and I had to cut it to get it out. I make the body pattern from the original body and this one was missing so much fabric I sewed one body and it was too small. So then I had to make a second body.
Once I had the head off for eye replacement I found the eyes had been professionally replaced in the past. The doll had a wooden disk stuck in its neck and that was not easy to remove. I don't know if it was original to the doll. I have no idea how the original restorer got it back into the neck; I could NOT do it, no matter how I tried. It either would fall into the head and rattle around, making me fear for the new eyes, or it would fall into the body and keep the head from settling properly on the shoulders.
The head is very floppy anyway. This doll was originally based on the Baby Dear book illustrated by Eloise Wilkin. The first version looked exactly like the book illustrations of a very new baby. It's like the head is too big for the body. Maybe the head is designed to be floppy like a real newborn's, but it doesn't look right with the second version with its older-looking face, in my opinion.
I ended up getting rid of the wooden disk. I got the head positioned as sturdily as possible. Then I double-stitched the seams on the neck, sides, and groin to reinforce them. This doll is clearly much loved, as it's on its third set of eyes and second, as far as we know, neck attachment, and I want it to last for many more generations.
My hands are going to have to be in traction for a while though. Besides this doll, I am restoring a Patti Playpal as well as a Madame Alexander McGuffey baby and my wrists are done. I was sanding Patti's feet today where I repaired holes in her heels with epoxy and I had to stop after a few minutes because paint was shooting up my wrist all the way to my shoulder. Luckily I will be out of the office all day tomorrow due to dentist appointments and a track meet so they can rest.
I am currently charging $200 plus return shipping for body replacements but I am thinking of raising the price even higher or maybe even refusing new patients because it is so hard on me physically. I have one of these dolls, a version with rooted hair, and though I originally planned to replace its body I changed my mind after that last one! I found a way better solution.
Meet "Doll Skins" ~ like a slipcover, but for dolls! These are stretch knit body covers you just put on your doll like an outfit. No sewing skills or special tools are required! I am almost sold out of them, but I am ordering more and you can purchase one here. Right now I only have two sizes: for 14-19 inch dolls and 20-25 inch dolls. The larger size is currently sold out but I will be restocking them as soon as possible. I'll see about getting some other sizes.
I have some more news, so exciting (for me anyway) I haven't been able to sleep the past few nights. As you might remember, I've spent the entire year taking courses on everything from business marketing to course creation. I'm in my second course creation course now and I have FOUR courses in progress! Stay tuned for the Expertise Empire Builder ~ Your Dream Business Incubator.
My plan is to release several courses you can take one at a time as stepping stones, or for less money per course, you can join the umbrella Dream Business Incubator group and get all the courses as part of a monthly or yearly membership subscription. You'll learn everything I did on my self-employment journey to becoming my own boss.
My two starter courses are almost finished: my Fast Cash Generator quick income system and my course on reselling dolls. I am also planning a free or low-cost challenge I'm planning to call the Christmas Doll Challenge, which will be a quick 3 day bootcamp designed to get one doll ready to gift to your kids or grandkids for Christmas, basically to create a family heirloom. The only thing is, in order to call it that I have to launch it so you can get your doll ready by Christmas, which is inching closer and closer! So, I'm working on that.
Sign up here to be notified when each course is released.
Click the buttons below to get updates on my courses or the body repair tutorial link.
I don't usually post much about 9/11. It seems so trite after all these years. Everyone and their brother posting and re-posting the same memes and photos year after year and nothing positive ever comes of it. It's not that I don't remember that day with crystal clarity; I certainly do. And it's not that I don't mourn. I am actually bereft every year when September rolls around.
My September doldrums extend back to the very beginning of my life. My dad died in September of 1977. It took me decades to realize that's why I get so sad in September. My body remembers it deep inside, even when I don't have it at the front of my consciousness.
Then, many years later when I was a married lady expecting our first son my husband, Jerry, nearly died in an accident at work. That happened at the end of August but it bled into that September. Septembers make me feel like the world is ending because mine has, twice, and nearly a third time, then.
9/11 was the second time my world ended in September. In my opinion, everyone's did. I remember watching all the news footage, the "War on Terror" and I just knew, America was over. My America, the world I grew up in. And unfortunately I was right.
Everyone started acting out of fear. Legislating out of fear, voting out of fear, instigating ridiculous laws and polices that didn't fix anything, since the horse was already out of the barn. Starting endless wars that just magnify the suffering far beyond the initial loss. It was the beginning of the end. In my opinion that was the day we stopped seeing one another as fellow countrymen and started to see other citizens as enemies, something only exacerbated by the pandemic, gleefully exploited by the media and influencers and politicians to make them money, get them attention.
I remember I was listening to public radio a couple days before 9/11 and they were reporting on our abandonment of freedom fighters trying to stop Al-Qaeda and several missteps our government was making. I remember I said to Jerry, "This is going to come back to bite us". And unfortunately I was right about that too.
At that point Jerry was only a few years removed from active duty in the Air Force. He spent a great deal of time in the Middle East and understood the dynamic. He even flew on Air Force One with President Clinton, so perhaps we understood more about the danger our country was in than most other Americans. When it turned out the Bush administration hadn't even opened boxes and boxes of intelligence provided them by the outgoing Clinton administration it was infuriating. The human cost to gather that intelligence and they didn't even read it? It's a slap in the face to all those who serve.
I try not to dwell on any of it. I would sleep through September if I could. Green Day could have custom-written Wake Me Up When September Ends just for me! Today I read an interview with a 9/11 survivor, about how he quit his job as a banker and went on to a totally different career because he realized life is too short to work at a job you hate. It got me thinking about mindset more than anything.
When Jerry had his accident he had to relearn how to write. How to use a knife and fork. He stopped playing basketball, one of his favorite sports, after falling and almost re-injuring his wrist during a game. He couldn't work at his job anymore. When our son was born he could barely pick him up. His life, as he'd known it, was taken from him in an instant. He wanted to go back to active duty after his accident (he was in the National Guard at the time) but he was no longer eligible because he was now disabled. He could have given up and stayed home for the rest of his life on disability. But he didn't. He got back most of the use of his hands, which the doctor told us later he thought was impossible. The doctor thought Jerry would only get back 10% but he ended up getting back 60-70% between both hands, the result of his incredible determination. He went back to school and got his engineering degree and became very successful. I'm not allowed to divulge his exact job but he's rather famous in certain circles and we are very proud of him. His mindset is what got him through it. He just refused to let the accident steal his optimism and his belief in himself.
Life's too short ~ you hear it all the time but you don't really understand it until you're staring into a smoking ruin that was your well-ordered existence just a moment ago. I thought about this the other day when I was sending my order confirmation emails. If I sell a tool or kit I like to send out links to tutorials showing how to use it if I have one. It's just something I do to try to be helpful. Most people are really thankful.
However, right after I sent my message to one customer I got back an angry email saying she "isn't paying for links" and she's "not interested in links" and she paid for hard copies. So I reassured her she was getting hard copies in the mail and that the links are just extra freebies (I also have a footer in the email with links to my website, my doll club, my Barbie quiz, etc ~ like basically every other business on earth). Well, right away I get another replay to my email going on and on about how she doesn't need any links and she's not paying for them, and then a THIRD email, but then also asking for advice on a completely different doll repair. Now I do have a tutorial showing the unrelated doll repair she was interested in but I wasn't about to send her another hateful link! So I just assured her once again the links are free extras and if she does link to my blog she can search the archives for any repairs she wants. I really wanted to say I didn't think the instructions would help her since she evidently can't even read an email, but I'm not allowed to talk to customers that way on eBay!
But jeez, I mean seriously what are we coming to in this country if I get chewed out for sending someone free extras? What is happening to us? What a miserable life that woman must lead. She can't even accept a gift freely given. I've spent a disproportionate amount of time thinking about her. What happened to her to make her so suspicious and angry? Why does she automatically assume I'm out to cheat her, steal from her?
I do have some idea; if your mindset is that dark you probably see everything in a dark light. She probably causes all kinds of disappointment and conflict in her life just because she responds to other people with such anger ~ such anger she can't even slow down to realize the thing she's worrying about isn't even happening. I recommend Mindvalley all the time, and I'm going to recommend it again. If I were super rich I swear I would just buy a subscription for everyone! Taking Mindvalley classes and meditating has improved my life in countless ways. I'm not a Mindvalley affiliate; I just love it!
When you have a scarcity mindset you think there's not enough for you. Not just enough money but also not enough love, not enough honesty ~ you feel like you have to constantly fight for everything. When you put that aside and see that as Shakespeare said, "The more I give to thee the more I have for both are infinite" you find everything is like that. If you smile at someone they usually smile back. Then they might smile at someone else, who smiles at someone else ~ you made it infinite.
So here's my plea for all of us this 9/11. Don't let it steal our country from us anymore; the real Americans ~ the firefighters that ran into the buildings when everyone else was running out, the people who volunteered to pick through the debris searching for survivors and destroyed their own health, all the people all across the country who mobilize and travel every time there's a disaster of some sort, going to try to help ~ those are the real Americans. Like Anne Frank, I believe that's who we really are. Let's be those people all the time, not just on 9/11, and most of all let's see those people in others.
If you're having trouble dealing with your situation, or you just can't shift your mindset away from negativity please click the free resources below. These are not affiliate links; these are the YouTube channels of some of my Mindvalley teachers who help me get through September and the rest of life.
Comment to let us know: which Barbie are you?
Yesterday our cat, Ming, had to go to the vet for treatment of an infected abscess on her back. The vet wanted her to wear a cone but it just wouldn't stay on, even adjusted to the smallest size. I had another appointment to get to and both Ming and our dogs were trying to lick the wound so I quickly made a bodysuit for Ming out of an old t-shirt. It covers the wound to keep it clean and dry but allows Ming maximum movement and the ability to use the bathroom without me having to remove the suit. Click below for a free step-by-step tutorial to make a suit for any pet, as well as no-sew options.
The vet instructed me to wash out the wound every day before applying antibiotic ointment. I'm using Young Living Puriclean diluted with a little water to clean it. Puriclean is part of the Animal Scents collection of products specially-formulated safe and effective for all pets. Use Puriclean as the first step in the 3-part treatment: Clean with Puriclean, then apply Infect-Away and Mendwell. Order Puriclean and the other Animal Scents products below.
UPDATE: Ming was unfortunately able to take off her suit and she hid it somewhere we can't find it so now there is a new section of the tutorial on how to make a no-sew pet sweater, since I had to make a new one!
My name is Amanda, but my childhood nickname was "Mandaline". I am a mother of three turning my passion for creating into a full-time business.