Madame Alexander Doll Company Celebrates 90th Anniversary

If today’s business environment seems to be challenging, imagine being a young woman starting a business very shortly after gaining the right to vote in your homeland. The role of women has changed significantly from the beginning part of the twentieth century, as has their treatment. The Roaring 20s were host to powerful men at the helms of companies, but a woman-owned business was somewhat of a rarity. This didn’t deter the vision of one woman, Madame Beatrice Alexander: her desire to create beautiful, quality dolls not only overcame the difficulties of the time, but carried the Alexander Doll Company forward into the next century as a powerhouse in fine dolls and accessories. Now celebrating its 90th year in operation, founder Madame Alexander’s sharp understanding of what doll lovers of all ages appreciate has spread joy to thousands of little girls, while the company has generously supported various philanthropic causes.

Doing Business, Her Own Way

It wasn’t that Madame Beatrice Alexander was just starting a business. She was a woman starting a business in a world very different than the modern one. The 1920s were a time of change, but the prevailing wisdom was that men would take care of business while women would take care of the home. It was commonly believed that women were intellectually inferior to men, not suited to creating a thriving corporation.

It was against the backdrop of these attitudes that Madame Alexander began to pursue her dream of providing the highest quality dolls to customers. It readily became apparent that not only was Madame Alexander up to the job of developing beautiful dolls, but she also had a head for business. While the company was faced with a number of obstacles over the years, Madame herself survived a struggle with breast cancer. The attitudes towards women in business have changed for the better.

Gale Jarvis, President of the Alexander Doll Company, notes the founder’s vision has prevailed — making the company not just survive, but thrive. “Beatrice was very smart and worked hard to develop her business. She began on the kitchen table with her sisters and some neighborhood people as employees. While she experienced the ups and downs of a wholesale business, she persevered to create dolls that she was proud of. She soon was able to move to a studio in downtown NYC. She divided her time between conceiving doll ideas, sewing doll bodies and outfits, and developing accounts. Her motto, which remains today, was ‘Love is in the Details’.” It’s this attention to detail that helps the Alexander Doll Company thrive in the modern economy, despite increasing costs and expansion issues.

Love is in the Details

Madame Alexander believed strongly in the motto “Love is in the details”. Devotion to her craft ignited the popularity of her dolls; hand-painted details, stylish wigs, gorgeous haute couture garments, and imaginative, unique doll features elevated them above their peers.

While some materials and safety standards have changed since the advent of those first creations, the care for the customer has not. And the Alexander Doll Company has a very loyal customer base; evidence can be seen in the continuing popularity of the company’s Madame Alexander Doll Club, which helps connect collectors and advances the business’s vision. Alexander Doll now boasts dozens of unique doll collections, each targeting a specific kind of doll lover.

Collectible dolls come from a broad range of literature and the arts, featuring special designs from Little Women, Broadway Musicals, the Radio City Rockettes, and Moulin Rouge. A global clientele appreciates the variety of carefully crafted international dolls. Wonderful play dolls cater to the most well-known and adorable creations, like the huggable Angelina Ballerina collection, princesses from the Disney line, and the popular Fancy Nancy character. Dolls with an enduring appeal can also be found, from the Winnie the Pooh collection to the hand-carved wooden Raggedy Ann doll and cloth Holly Hobbie.

Each doll is quality crafted to stand the test of time, but sometimes accidents do happen (little ones decide to take their dolly to the hairdresser). The Alexander Doll Company has an in-house doll clinic designed to help cure whatever ails dolly.

Bestsellers, Proven Winners

With such a wide array of collectible cuties, it may be difficult to pick the best sellers. The 18” Favorite Friends collection is a hot commodity right now — a set of realistic little girl dolls from a variety of ethnic backgrounds that comes in a range of contemporary attire.

Very small hands seem eager to hold the characters in the Washables line. These 12” dolls come in a range of popular licensed characters (Pinkalicious, Angelina Ballerina, Fancy Nancy and the Wizard of Oz) and are easy to clean.

The newest dolls to join the club sport specialty designs from the fusion of fashion and sweets of Dylan’s Candy Bar (started by the daughter of Ralph Lauren); the 8” Wendy doll sports a cute pink top and full Dylan’s print skirt. The 9” Candy Princess is a tween’s dream in a chemise dress.

The 12” Huggums baby dolls are just too cute to resist. From the Moo-sical baby doll in pink printed dress to the all-dressed-to-go Going to Grandma’s doll, these creations marry nostalgia and durability for children 3 years and up.

Special occasion dolls are also available, including versions for Easter, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and First Communion. Accessories range from the sweetheart Hungry Baby Accessory Set for baby dolls (comes with tiny treats like an embroidered bib, a bottle, a pink plate, and a pacifier) to the bouncy Favorite Friends “Short and Sweet” outfit in pink, brown, and yellow (includes a headband, white undies and sandals; fits 18” dolls).

Generosity as Part of the Vision

With a motto like “Love is in the details”, it’s easy to imagine the open-handed generosity guided by Madame Alexander’s vision. Gale Jarvis indicated that the parent company of Alexander Doll is “…very philanthropic — with our main charity being K.I.D.S. (Kids in Distressed Situations), a global organization….This year Alexander Doll has designed Wendy Walks for Cancer, an 8” collectible doll, of which a percentage of the proceeds will benefit CancerCare™, a national organization that provides free, professional support services to individuals, families, caregivers and the bereaved to help them cope with and manage the emotional and practical challenges of cancer.”

Alexander Doll is celebrating its 90th year with a special collection of limited edition Madame Alexander dolls. The company is more than just a testament to great products — it is a testimony to an amazing woman:

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