A life in dolls’ houses - getting to know Amy Purser, from The Dolls House Emporium
17 July 2013
After more than 30 years in conversation with Dolls House Emporium founder Jackie Lee, customers now have a new contact as the public face of the company.
Amy Purser is Jackie’s eldest daughter and the perfect member of staff to front the company’s marketing activity following Jackie’s retirement from the company. What’s more, she has been involved in the dolls’ house business for almost all of her life.
When customers – both private and trade – receive an email or letter from The Dolls House Emporium, it’s more than likely to be from Amy. You may even get to speak to her if you call the customer helpline at our Derbyshire HQ as she likes to keep on top of what’s happening.
“The company is almost exactly a year younger than me,” she says.
“I’ve been a catalogue model (circa 1983), stuffed catalogues into envelopes (and suffered the paper cuts), sat on my dad’s knee and named new dolls’ houses, helped pack orders and make cups of tea in the draughty warehouse at the old premises in Park Hall, Denby. I’ve been a ‘Saturday Shop Girl’, a student working in the warehouse and sales office during my holidays from study - and finally five years ago I returned full-time. Originally this was on maternity cover for the company PA but I took on other duties and eventually became Head of Brand, which is what I do today.
“I’ve worked with, and for, our customers for a very long time and I think I understand them very well.
“I’m often on the online forum, our Facebook page and our other channels picking up on trends, suggestions for products and I’m also on the phones taking orders from customers so I hear first hand what they want and what they love, like or want to improve about the company and the products.”
Amy Purser, Dolls House Emporium Head of Brand, recording a documentary in our Ripley shop
Amy enjoys building, dressing and decorating her own small-scale properties having grown up with the hobby: “I have houses that I’ve broken and repaired over the years, one that’s a restoration project, others that are waiting and there’s a story to go with them all. I don’t think I could choose a favourite! I own a very old and tatty Classical, a Woodcutter’s Cottage, a Cumberland Castle, an Ocean Drive and the Tudor Manor my mother and father built as a prototype for the business but I would quite happily add a Lake View, Holme Lodge, Le Chateau and/or Malibu Beach House to the collection and that’s just pieces from our own company!
“I’ve previously bought from a range of eras, Victorian, modern and plenty of things older and in between. I really loved the Charles Rennie Mackintosh pieces and picked up a few of those.
“At the moment I’m enjoying creating some contemporary glamorous scenes and have been using a lot of cream and gold furniture combined with the modern nesting tables and the big shelving units.
“I keep packaging from presents and gadgets to re-use in my houses (I’m using one perfume box to make a shower!), I sew pieces and re-dress others and I’ve plans to create a miniature Winterfell, the castle of the Wardens of the North from the George RR Martin books A Song of Ice and Fire.”
Back at work the shop and offices at Ripley continue to thrive and develop under a new MD and parent company.
“Of course it’s felt a little strange coming into work and not seeing Jackie here,” says Amy, “But our MD Colin and company accountant Geoff have a long history with us and I believe that with the three of us working together the company has a great future.
“I’ve not taken over myself! It’s been a frequently asked question from customers but I stopped wanting to be in charge of the business a very long time ago! My career has always involved giving great customer service and being in a position where I can interact with my customers, that’s an aspect that I enjoy very much.
“What we’ve seen so far is that there’s been very little change from a customer perspective. Of course there has been upheaval: the company’s founder has retired and it would be naïve to think that that would have no impact at all. When a company has been around as long as The Dolls House Emporium has, it will inevitably have times of prosperity and more difficult periods. Now that we are owned by a wider company, we have a broader set of skills we can call upon and have a greater strength for continued longevity.
"In short, we have a much more secure future and can enjoy making and selling the best miniatures for many years to come. There have to be some small changes behind the scenes to allow this to happen and to allow the company to continue to exist but overall the ethos for us is the same, great quality, exclusive miniatures with superb customer service.”
The Dolls House Emporium has always encouraged customer feedback and enjoys a continuous conversation with them on the internet and in person, on the phone or in the shop.
Amy says: “Our sales team is now based directly in the Ripley shop so you can pop in and visit the very people you talk to! We always listen to suggestions and if the product design team aren’t able to meet people then the staff in the shop will always pass on feedback to them. If you can’t make it in person, the very best way to be part of what’s happening here at Dolls’ House HQ, as we call it, is by getting online.”
The Dolls House Emporium has been developing its web presence so that people can stay up to date via the company website, its Facebook page, a blog, forum, YouTube channel, through Pinterest and on Twitter.
Amy, who’s not averse to getting online herself, added: “We get a lot of inspiration from your projects and ideas and it’s always good to share a giggle. There are so many points of interest for us all to share and online is so quick and easy to highlight the best of the miniature world. Customers in the know can join us and enjoy the benefits of email only offers, Facebook competitions, and full coverage of creative competition entries on the blog - some really stunning miniatures.”