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 .”
“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.