Whether they had Kirsten, Molly, Samantha, Felicity, Addy, or Josefina, these wildly successful, historically accurate dolls defined the childhoods of the many girls within the ’90s—but if their creator, Pleasant Rowland, had listened to anything but her gut, American Girls might never have existed. Here are a couple of belongings you won’t have known about the dolls.
1. THEY WERE INSPIRED BY A VISIT TO WILLIAMSBURG—AND a visit TO THE TOY STORE.
In 1984, textbook author, television reporter , and teacher Pleasant Rowland accompanied her husband on a business trip to Williamsburg, Va. “I loved the costumes, the homes, the accessories of everyday life—all of it completely engaged me,” Rowland told CNN Money in 2002. “I remember sitting on a bench within the shade, reflecting on what a poor job schools do of teaching history, and the way sad it had been that more kids couldn’t visit this fabulous classroom of living history. Was there how I could bring history alive for them, the way Williamsburg had for me?”
A few months later, Rowland went Christmas buying her nieces, then 8 and 10. She wanted to urge them each a doll—but she found that her only options were Barbie and Cabbage Patch Kids. “Here i used to be , during a generation of girls at the forefront of redefining women’s roles, and yet our daughters were twiddling with dolls that celebrated being a teenager queen or a mommy,” she said. “My Williamsburg experience and my Christmas shopping experience collided, and therefore the concept literally exploded in my brain.”
She dashed off a postcard to her friend Valerie Tripp: “It said, ‘What does one consider this idea? A series of books about 9-year-old girls growing up in several times in history, with a doll for every of the characters and historically accurate clothes and accessories with which girls could play out the stories?’ In essence, i might create a miniature version of the Colonial Williamsburg experience and take it to American girls using the very playthings—books and dolls—that girls have always loved.”Sex Dolls
She spent a wintry weekend creating an in depth outline of the concept. “My pen flew as i attempted to capture the thought that was just given to me—whole,” she said. “This was my business plan!”Rowland had experience writing books, but she was at a loss for where to start with the dolls—she didn’t even have a model to figure with, so she sent a lover to Chicago to seem for one. “By the top of the second day, she found one at Marshall Field’s, down within the storeroom, covered with dust,” Rowland said. “Nobody had paid any attention to the present doll because it had crossed eyes! The sales clerk had no idea where it had come from, but once we undressed the doll, sewn inside the underpants was a label that said ‘Gotz Puppenfabrik, Rodental, West Germany .’” Rowland made some calls, and shortly after, found herself in Germany, “picking out fabrics and ribbons and garments for the American Girl dolls.” Sbobbet
The 18-inch dolls would be manufactured in Germany, but the books would be made within the company’s Madison, Wisc. offices and therefore the doll’s accessories would be made in China. (These days, both the dolls and their accessories are made in China, and assembled in and shipped from Wisconsin.)
4. ROWLAND AND TRIPP CONCEPTUALIZED the primary THREE DOLLS.
The first three dolls were Molly McIntire, who lived during war II; Samantha Parkington, who lived just after the turn of the 20th century; and Kirsten Larson, who lived within the mid-19th century. “We knew that we wanted Samantha to possess lived at the turn of the last century because we felt that that was a huge turning point for ladies ,” Tripp said. The orphaned Samantha may need been inspired by a comment from Rowland’s 8-year-old niece. “I asked her who she liked to examine ,” Rowland told the Chicago Tribune in 1990, “and she said, ‘Oh, Aunt Pleasant, orphans.It was clear to me that American Girl was a thinking girl’s line , one that might not sell at Toys ‘R’ Us,” Rowland told CNN Money. “It wasn’t meant to blare from the shelves on its packaging or visual appeal alone. It had a more important message—one that had to be delivered during a softer voice.” So instead of create a billboard , which the corporate didn’t have the allow anyway, or sell to toy stores directly (they had told her the dolls, at $82, were too expensive), Rowland decided that the dolls would be sold by spam . Star Wars Casino
6. FOCUS GROUPS INITIALLY HATED THE CONCEPT.
When she was deep into development on the dolls, Rowland hired a marketing manager, who advised performing some focus groups with mothers. When the leader explained the concept to the group, “they thought it had been the worst idea they’d ever heard,” Rowland remembered. “I was devastated—and terrified. It had never really entered my head that this concept could fail!” But once the ladies saw a doll together with her accessories and a sample book, they loved it. “The experience crystallized a really important lesson for me: Success isn’t within the concept. It’s within the execution,” Rowland said.