Every month in 2017, I will spotlight one Women Owned Small Business. I love hearing the different reasons that women decide to take control of their destiny and become successful while doing it! What’s the saying? “When you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” So, with that said, March’s Woman Owned Small Business Spotlight is on WhimsyCo, owned by Cathy Liginkski:
1 – Tell me a little something about you.
Cathy: I’m a breast cancer survivor and doll maker from the Chicago area where I create Li’l Hope dolls—little dolls that carry a big message of hope! I believe that everyone needs a little hope in their life! Hope is positive and optimistic. It’s proven that hope keeps you going when times get tough. Hope keeps you dreaming. As we do, hope looks forward to a happy tomorrow, even if today isn’t so happy. Hope is believing and trusting.
My Li’l Hope doll is a sweet and simple reminder to always keep hope in your heart… to always keep dreaming and keep believing that things will be okay.
Jacqui: What motivated you to start your own business?
Cathy: I began making these dolls after my second breast cancer diagnosis. They were born from my desire to do something special for those going through what I had gone through—people like me who needed something to smile about and a little hope in their lives.
Using fabric in shades of pink, I initially focused my energies on breast cancer survivors but quickly discovered people wanted my dolls in different colors and themes for a multitude of reasons. I’ve made dolls for survivors, caregivers, new mothers, new babies, graduates. I’ve made them in school colors, sports team colors, holiday colors. You name it and I’ll give it a try!
Jacqui: Tell me about your business. What made you choose the business products you sell?
Cathy: I’ve always loved sewing and I’ve always loved dolls. These two loves came together and Li’l Hope was born. What started as a hobby gradually began to transition into a business.
Jacqui: What is the toughest thing you’ve faced in starting your business?
Cathy: Time. Always time!
I was thrilled to see my original mission grow into a real business but as my business continued to grow, I started doubting whether I could keep up with the orders. I had a “real” job to drive to, a family to care for—life to handle! Sadly, my dolls were relegated to the bottom of the priority list.
One day I voiced these frustrations to my mother and she offered this advice, “You may not have hours at a time to spare, but you always have minutes.”
Those few words sparked something in me and forever created a shift in my thinking. Doll making soothes my soul. It’s my history and it’s my passion so from that point on, I began incorporating doll making into my daily life instead of waiting until dishes were put away, laundry was done, or homework was finished.
There will never be that magical day when all I have is time so I started looking closely at the minutes of my day and began to use them more creatively…
- Stuffing arms, legs, and bodies while in the carpool line, on a road trip, or watching television…
- Stitching faces while sipping my Sunday morning coffee…
- Tracing patterns while being there for homework questions across the table…
- Painting legs on the kitchen counter while dinner is cooking in the oven…
- A minute here, a minute there and they are…
I don’t have hours a day to devote to doll-making but I do have minutes. Minutes that have added up and consequently resulted in the creation of something very special— a business that all started with a li’l hope!
Jacqui: What’s kept you motivated to keep going with your business?
Cathy: The expression on people’s faces when they see and touch my dolls. The stories of hope that I hear from women whether I meet them at a show or on-line. And the belief that I’ve brought a smile to someone’s face. These words are what keep me sewing…
- I received Lil Hope today. She is absolutely beautiful. She just seemed to give me the hope that I sometimes need. I can think of so many people that could use a Lil Hope in their lives!
- Your inspirational item has been treasured…
- Very cute! Such a special little doll with such a big message! Blessings to you for bringing her to life.
- Thank you so much for the love that you put into her. God’s blessings.
- Cathy, I got my little doll yesterday and she is beautiful. Thank you so much.
- Thank you for bringing Li’l Hope to life. She is absolutely precious. Hope is so powerful and I’m happy my daughter will have it with her always.
- Lil Hope arrived today! She is absolutely the cutest thing I’ve ever seen! I am in LOVE! THANK YOU!!!
- She is so beautiful. It is amazing how different each doll looks. You do a fabulous job!
- Each one makes me smile.
- If it’s possible they are even cuter in person. Each one is more adorable than the next!! I love them all so will have a hard time choosing the one to keep for myself.
- Thank u so much! Lots of smiling faces because of you.
- Your dolls are beautiful and touched me in a very powerful way.
- You are a blessing to those in need of some hope and your dolls are simply adorable.
Jacqui: How do you sell your products? Do you sell through an online eCommerce site? Do you have your own website? What is your website URL? Or do you only sell through your social media platform? Where can our readers find you? Provide links and address if you sell in a store or other brick and mortar venue.
- Etsy – https://www.etsy.com/shop/WhimsyCo
- WhimsyCo – https://whimsyco.wordpress.com/
- WhimsyCo Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/whimsycompany/
Jacqui: Do you ship your products? Where do you ship? Within the US only? Or do you ship internationally?
Cathy: Li’l Hope dolls have traveled the world (even as far as London and Germany) spreading hope wherever they go! I ship both within the US and internationally.
Jacqui: What charity do you participate with? Give them a shout out!
Cathy: The American Cancer Society has always held a special place in my heart. Our family has participated in both the Relay for Life and the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events. Their mission is to free the world from cancer through funding and conducting research. Consequently, sharing expert information, supporting patients, and spreading the word about prevention. It’s an organization of dedication and hope for the future.
Jacqui: What words of encouragement would you give to other women who are on the fence about starting their own business?
Cathy: There will never be that magical day when all you have is time—so the time to do this is now. So, take those precious minutes you have, appreciate them, use them wisely, and create something special with them!