We’re continuing our Meet the Maker series with Ruby from Handpicked by Ruby. Her handmade fabric dolls inspire kids’ imagination with doll outfits that are oh-so-adorable. The girl and boy tooth fairies have pockets for lost teeth and are a step up from the tooth fairy pillows of my youth! We love the rompers she makes for children and can’t wait to learn more about Ruby and her business.
Hi Ruby! Thanks for telling us your story today! We can’t wait to learn more about Handpicked by Ruby! Can you please tell everyone about your business?
I started this business 6 years ago, but I taught myself to sew in high school because I liked making funky clothes for myself, so I guess you could say it all started there.
My business name is Handpicked by Ruby….honestly, the story behind the name is boring AF. I had started (and failed) so many shops before this one, that I didn’t even want to make a business name. But I needed one to start an Instagram… I picked an ambiguous one so in case I changed my mind and wanted to make something else I wouldn’t have to change the name… but it stuck haha. And was actually successful, so here we are.
I make handmade dolls, doll accessories, and kids clothes (specifically rompers).
We’ve loved following your success! Who inspires you?
Honestly, anyone who just kills it in their own way! And I can binge stories of women who defied all the odds to accomplish incredible things.
Us too! We love seeing women succeed! What are you most excited about for the future?
I love watching my shop grow…and me grow. This year I doubled my sales, and at the same time kept the anxiety at bay as I fulfilled all these orders. That means a lot to me to see growth in both areas, and so for the future I hope to keep that going!
Way to go! That’s an absolutely huge accomplishment– especially in 2020! Can you share something good that has come out of this time?
I have realized what I’m really capable of. I had help, but after COVID, I had to do it all myself. That included my wholesale items, my own shop, and Mosaic. I got into a really great groove, and realized I’m capable of so much more than I thought I was, and even still found quality time with my kids and family. That’s something I’m really proud of.
You’ve done big things this year, Ruby! That’s definitely something to be proud of. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Hustle. Lol, I hated it when I got it. I thought “I’m trying so hard to make this shop work, and all you can say is work harder?!” But that wasn’t what hustle really meant. It was being open, always, to different opportunities to grow. This year that included wholesale, and it made for a great year! I also read a really great piece on how you need to schedule out every hour of the day, including family time. This was also great advice. After I did that, I found myself even more productive, but also found more time to be with my kids instead of working literally every free minute.
I would say, though, if I were to give my earlier self advice, it would have been “no one really knows what they’re doing, so just do you”…I had major imposter complex and was sure everyone who ordered would know I was a self-taught seamstress. No one cared, lol. I made a quality product that is special to kids, and that’s all they cared about. No one inspected my dolls to make sure I used the “right” stitch or process. The longer I went on, I realized there was no “right way”, and that was freeing.
That’s all great advice! I especially like the advice to schedule every hour of the day– it’s easy to get so caught up in the hustle that you forget to enjoy life. Why did you get involved with MMC?
Katy found me, actually! And I’m so glad she did! I love saying that I have products in the Bishop Arts District….but more than that, I have loved this community of talented and badass women.
We’re so glad you’re part of our community. What are you most proud of?
Me! This year I have worked so hard to keep business thriving, but also to maintain my emotional/mental sanity. I feel really proud of myself for keeping that balance this year.
You are awesome! How has your work evolved over time?
I have really cared less about what’s the “right way” and just really dove into what makes MY products special. This has allowed me to take creative liberties that have made these dolls even more special and fun.
We love the creativity and individuality of every doll you make. What advice would you give a young artist?
You do you. There are people who are going to love what you do, exactly as you do it. And make sure to charge enough for your products. Never choose your price based on what you assume someone will pay. If they love your product, they will pay what it’s worth. When I started selling dolls, I sold them for $25 dollars because I was so sure it’s all anyone would pay for them…..fast forward to when I realized my time was worth much more than that, I now charge $68 for the same doll. Ironically, I sold more after I raised the price. I think people trusted the product more when it was the right price.
Great advice! What is the most memorable response you’ve had to your work?
I got a special order a few years ago, and a woman sent me her mother’s clothes to make the doll with. Her mom had passed away, and she wanted her daughter to have a piece of her with her always…..Fast forward a year or so and I did a live market in McKinney. A woman came up to me and introduced herself as this lady who had ordered the special doll. She told me her daughter loved the doll and would talk to it when she was missing her grandma. We had a good cry over it, but that’s really why I love what I do. I have had many special experiences in making custom dolls that really mean something special to people, and those are my favorite dolls to make.
That’s beautiful– such a special way to connect with a client. What is your favorite part of your job?
Making kids smile. Making clothes and dolls that I would have loved as a kid. It really is the best job for my inner child, lol.
It’s definitely evident from your work that you love what you do! What are three words that best describe your work?
Handmade. Loved. Detailed.
Perfect! Now for a few fun questions! If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I would go back to Kauai. I have never felt like my soul belonged somewhere more, and I would live in a shack if it meant I could live there, lol.
I hope you get to go back sometime soon! What’s the most recent show you binged on Netflix?
MTVs Scream, lol. Also, The Boys (but that’s on Amazon Prime).
Great shows! Aside from visiting MMC, what’s your favorite thing to do in the Bishop Arts District?
Just wander. I love a good Historic District to browse. I usually grab a new vinyl record while I’m there too.
There’s so much to see and do in the Bishop Arts District, it’s always fun to wander. Thank you so much for sharing the story of Handpicked by Ruby! We’re so glad you’re a part of the Mosaic Makers Collective!
Want to learn more about our makers or shop Handpicked by Ruby? Check out these additional resources: