Contributed by Charice Chambers
Linda Berget’s mind always runs to color, fabric and dolls. According to her, she’s never grown up. That’s all right with this baby boomer; she is a professional doll maker. Educated at the Fashion Institute of Atlanta in fashion design, merchandising and sales, Berget’s fashion interest started early. While other little girls were carefully cutting out paper dolls and their attachable clothing, Berget was busy with color pencils creating both the doll and a huge wardrobe of fanciful paper doll garments for each doll she crafted. In high school, the line between student and teacher blurred as she collaborated on many designs, fabrics and methodologies with Ms. Wallace, her home economics teacher and mentor.
Berget enjoyed retailing, especially the wholesale buying aspect, but eventually became a stay-at-home mom with two little girls. To provide funds for Christmas gifts, Berget began participating in the many rounds of local Christmas bazaars. Ultimately leading to a defining moment at the Made in Alaska Fall Bazaar, she was approached by Once in a Blue Moon to consider wholesaling her creations. In short order, she learned “the ropes” of wholesaling and by 1996, had over 40 accounts including Princess Cruises. She was so busy keeping up with orders that she barely had time for her full-time job, and her husband was drawn into the company. The couple decided that when her doll making business was clearing 25% of her full time salary, it would be time to quit and concentrate fully on doll production. Setting a similar standard for him, the couple soon became full-time entrepreneurs.
Today, this senior has reduced her business to a studio and her accounts to a few well-chosen retailers. Quality has overrun quantity, not that her dolls lacked quality in the past. In 1997, she was producing enough shelf-sitting moose and Native dolls, as well as seasonal dolls to require over two tons of rice to fill their bodies! Now life is a bit less hectic and there are more commissioned orders giving her the luxury of letting her creativity run wild.
Flossy Orts is a good example. In the wee hours of the night at the annual Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery Seminar, participants would work like fiends to produce incredible art designs while leaving a pile of orts, or ends of floss, as they finished their work. Berget loved the color and texture of these little fiber piles. They immediately spoke to her as potential hair for an embroidering doll, hence the name Flossy Orts.
Though Berget limits her fanciful dolls to a few select venues today, Valley doll-lovers are in luck. Linda Berget’s dolls may be seen at the Matsu Senior Services Gift Shop, located in the MSSS Center across from Palmer Junior Middle School at 1132 S. Chugach Street. Open from 10am to 2pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and 10am to 4pm on Thursday, the shop boasts prices that seniors can afford and invites the public to enjoy these senior perks.