TAG Treasury Team

Monday, October 17, 2011

TAGT Featured Shop of the Week: Arlene's Boutique!

Arlene’s passion for fashion began as a child. “I loved playing with fashion paper dolls and if I didn't have a paper doll book, I would use the Sears catalog,” she says. “I have always had a love for fashion and clothes. Over the years, I taught myself to sew which ultimately developed into my first business .”

That business was, in essence, giving makeovers to Barbie dolls. Arlene and her partner, under the moniker of Hunter-Goldblatt Designs, would remake average Barbies into one-of-a-kind dolls. Sometimes they would create limited editions, “with never more than five dolls in a series,” Arlene remembers. “At the time, the Barbie doll fashion redesign market was developing. My partner and I would take a Barbie doll, I would design couture fashions and my partner would do the accessories.

“We made jewelry, hats, bags, even gloves and nylons. We loved doing the 40's and 50's fashions. We even did a Jackie Kennedy pink suit.” Arlene and her partner not only designed the clothes and accessories, they completely redesigned the dolls, including custom, rethreaded hair and repainted makeup. They even made sculptural eyelashes fashioned after the original Barbie doll. “I don't think there was anybody in the industry who did that,” she says.

They sold their custom Barbies at doll shows and Barbie doll conventions. Arlene purports their greatest claim to fame was an inclusion in the book ‘Fashion Doll Makeovers’ –a series of books published in the late 1990s which featured doll makeover artists from all over the world.


“Over a period of 5 years, we did over a thousand dolls,” says Arlene. “I became so burned out with the sewing machine that I turned to other crafts. That lead me to knitting. I have always had a love for scarves and yarn so I taught myself to knit. I was giving them away to family and friends and they loved them, so I thought that I would try to sell them. They did quite well in the local market.”

She decided to give Etsy a try after she heard about it from a friend and Arlene's Boutique was born! After a slow start over the last two years, she says she is “finally getting a lot more attention from being on the TAGT team and I’m loving it.” She also uses Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Arlenes-Boutique/120200037996052) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/ardelle60) to help promote her shop.

Her favorite pieces include an apple green cable knit scarf:

One of her best sellers – a long scarf that mixes colors and textures using boucle with eyelash yarn in different shades of lavender and purple:

And finally, a classic red number:

Arlene grew up in Aberdeen, SD, the eldest of ten children. “I came from very humble beginnings which taught me to appreciate everything in life.” Her husband Neal, of 40 years, claims that her greatest talent is perfection. “In other words, attention to detail.” She and Neal partnered in real estate over three and a half decades and have enjoyed living all over the United States. They now reside in Phoenix, AZ, and have two grown children. She loves reading, walking, attending jazz festivals and traveling.

“I am most passionate about my family's well being,” she says, “and I am also passionate about my current business - to make it a success – and about the TAGT team. It is the best thing that has happened to me on Etsy, and I love and cherish everyone on the team and wish everyone success.”

Interview and article by Linda Loca of Fire Grog Studio.


  1. Oh my Arlene~ What a fascinating story about the Barbie Dolls... what work you must have put into them! Amazing!

    This is just *day one* of featuring you, I have been gone all day and came home to simply breathtaking Treasuries featuring your GORGEOUS WORK.. I'm running out of words to use! STUNNING, GORGEOUS, BEAUTIFUL!

    Very, very honored to be on the same Team with you. Your Treasuries are always amazing! As I always say **You Are the Treasury Queen!

    But what draws me to you most is your caring, gentle, sweet soul! As I said ~ very honored to be on the same team with such a beautiful person!


  2. What a wonderful post. I love the Barbie story.

    Wishing you years and years of great success.


  3. Wonderful Bio Arlene!!!
    Love your story and it's great to learn more
    about you.

  4. Burned out by Barbie!! What did you do with all the outfits??

    take care not to get overtired of the scarves...that would be a great loss!


  5. Such a great story!! Working with Barbie Dolls...how fun!!

    ~ Susie

  6. Arlene is wonderful. I featured her on my blog a while back, so knew some of this. When I first opened my shop, within 2 days, Arlene had featured me in one of her stunning treasuries. I had no idea what T's were about then.
    I thanked her and she asked if I was 'connected' to various other places for makers of handmade could show their work. I said 'no' and she gave me lists! She's the one who told me about TAGT. She's super kind and supportive. I've had questions, she's answered in depth. She is unstinting in her willingness to help. I just love her . . . that's it.

  7. Oops . . . some gramatical, etc. errors . . . but I had tears in my eyes . . . so pretend they aren't there, OK?

  8. It was a pleasure getting to know better one of the most talented and beautiful treasury makers on Etsy! I love your creativity and it shows in your Barbie makeover business. Who would ever think of that? Loved your story! :0)

  9. What a fun and inspiring story, thanks for sharing yourself with us!!