Amy Jandrisevits created A Doll Like Me, so kids with physical differences could love and cherish their very own doll that looked exactly like them. She personally makes each doll by hand, and to date she has raised more than $225,000 to help off set the financial burden for those who could not otherwise afford a doll.
A Doll Like Me
The Formation of A Doll Like Me
Despite not having a child of her own with a disability, Amy worked with children with disabilities during her internship for her social work masters program. She worked in the oncology department and noticed a need for children with differences. “It’s kind of one of those things where if you see a gap in the market and you have the skillset to fill it, you’d be remiss if you didn’t do something.”
Shocked to find that there was nothing else out there from any company, Amy decided to do something herself. Amy often gets asked “Why would you want to draw attention to something that makes them different?” her reply, “Why not?”. She attributes this question and way of thinking to the success of A Doll Like Me. We all have differences, no two people look alike. “Why not celebrate that which makes us different?” Amy asks.
“You know the whole reason I have a doll business, while I love making them, the reasoning is actually really unfortunate”. Amy was referring to society and how they perceive people with differences. It took the makers of Barbie 75 years to produce a doll that was different in any way.
Changing the Narrative
A Doll Like Me is changing the narrative for someone who has a disability. It takes the conversation from “What is wrong with them?” to “Cool! Your doll looks just like you!”.
“We don’t come in this world ashamed, right? Other people’s reaction to us then might determine some of that.” Gerald stated. Others shape the way we view ourselves. Providing a doll that looks like them is empowering to those children. It emphasizes that what makes them different is something to be proud of.
Dolls are Therapeutic
Dolls are used everyday in play therapy. They help the child learn about what is going to happen to them or they help the child process what has happened to them. Therapists will use dolls that resemble the child, not doing so is a disservice to that child.
Amy gave a beautiful example of how her dolls helped a family process through their child’s new physical differences. A little girl had been burned on nearly her entire body. At first she was scared of the doll who looked just like her, however as she healed she grew to love the doll. Her siblings also learned how to accept how she looked as they played and took care of her doll.
Future for A Doll Like Me
A Doll Like Me is a one-woman-show. Amy works on each doll on an intimate and personal level. Each doll is made with love and care. This is something she feels like would be lost in the commercialization of her company if she mass produced.
She will continue making dolls as long as she feels moved and inspired to advocate for these children. She wants each doll to be just as important to her as it is to the families that receive them.
The Cost Behind the Dolls
In the beginning, Amy wasn’t charging families for their dolls or she allowed them to pay when they could. She was eating the cost of the supplies for each doll and for her time. Recently A Doll Like Me was made into a non-profit organization. This allowed Amy to provide the dolls for the families while covering her costs. For her, A Doll Like Me is truly a labor of love.
“The power behind A Doll Like Me is it shows there is something different.” said Amy. A Doll Like Me shows that Amy recognizes that there needs to be a change and that these children matter. She is changing the narrative and the thought process of people one person at a time.