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.”
Former dolls' house boss keeps her finger on the pulse
19 June 2013
Dolls House Emporium founder Jackie Lee is enjoying her retirement – and spending plenty of time with her four grandchildren.
But she’s also keeping her finger on the pulse of business.
Jackie’s booked in to be part of the panel at a conference which gives delegates the opportunity to listen to, and learn from, the experience of successful business leaders.
MD2MD, the Oxfordshire-based leadership development group for managing directors of small to medium enterprises, is hosting LeaderFest today.
It is an annual conference which gives successful entrepreneurial leaders a chance to share their experiences with people who want to develop their own leadership skills.
This year’s event
will be at the world-famous Pinewood Studios site at Iver Heath, in Buckinghamshire.
Official dolls' house ambassador 'down under'
30 May 2012
The Dolls’ House Emporium has an official ambassador "down under" – Fairy Meadow Miniatures is now the recommended retail outlet in New South Wales, Australia.
Businesswoman Lorraine Robinson gives Australian customers a point of contact, first-class knowledge and somewhere to turn to on their own side of the world if they need help, advice or support with their hobby.
Solving a logistical challenge of time difference, distance and locality, Dolls House Emporium Jackie Lee decided that having a more local presence for the Australian-facing business would be key to giving customers confidence and peace of mind when dealing with a company 12,000 miles away.
Fairy Meadow's owner Lorraine emigrated to Australia at the end of 1991 with her husband Alec and three small children.
It was on a return visit back home that she visited The Dolls House Emporium in Ripley, bought The Manor House and had it shipped back to Australia – and that’s where her story began.
“I spent the next five or six years building painting and decorating my little house,” she says.
“I just love to create and build, many of my first items had a bit of quirky to them… a little wobble here and a little slope there, but I loved them all.”
In 2001 she joined the New South Wales Ambulance Service and became a paramedic, which took over the next few years until in 2005 Lorraine had her idea to open a miniatures shop. And 12 months later Fairy Meadow Miniatures was born.
Three years later the one-room shop grew into a two-room shop and Fairy Meadow Miniatures Gallery was opened, a room with Lorraine’s personal collection of her own work and purchased dolls houses – showcasing her own desire and passion for the hobby.
In 2010 she gave up the paramedic work and become a full-time miniaturist. Lorraine is now working in the shop three days a week, attending to internet orders seven days a week and working on commission work three days a week.
Last year Fairy Meadow Miniatures moved to bigger premises and now boasts a shopping display area which now carries over 5,500 items, and over 40 room box displays.
Exclusive Queen's Dolls' House Collection - news update!
27 March 2012
The Dolls House Emporium has been given an exclusive licence to reproduce an authentic collection from The Queen's Dolls' House at Windsor Castle.
Working with the Royal Collection, the company is crafting miniature furniture, accessories, decor and architecture, authentically reproducing those in the crème de la crème of dolls’ houses, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens for Queen Mary in 1924.
The Dolls’ House Emporium was given access to Royal Collection photography of the Dolls’ House to ensure the new products would be perfect replicas.
The items were specially chosen and carefully made to look just like the real thing.
The first selection includes reproductions from ‘The Queen’s Bedroom’ - from the unique décor to the finely upholstered furniture and decorative ornaments and plants. You can see the full range from The Queen's Bedroom at www.dollshouse.com
Managing director Jackie Lee said: "It really is a privilege to be able to replicate some of the beautiful items that feature in The Queen's Dolls' House.
“This house is a perfect representation of a Royal household at the beginning of the 20th Century, albeit on a small scale!
“The attention to detail is extraordinary. From the collective works of Shakespeare and Dickens in the Library, to the 1:12 scale pea to be placed under the mattress in the Princess Royal’s room.
"Our aim is to remain true to the original designs, create pieces to reflect their quality, and make them available to everyone. We are inviting people to have their own exquisite little piece of history.”
Available from April, the reproductions include a finely-crafted roll-top walnut writing desk, the exquisite Queen Anne four-poster bed, an Aubusson carpet, a dressing table with beauty accessories and much more.
The original house was built after Princess Marie Louise, first cousin to King George V, noticed Queen Mary’s growing passion for all things miniature in the early 1920s.
She approached her friend, architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, with the idea of creating an entire house for the Queen, complete with a collection of exquisite furniture and accessories.
Sir Edwin immediately agreed to the idea, and saw it as the perfect way to promote top designers and craftsmen who were struggling for work after the war.
To secure the fabulous furnishings, the Princess contacted leading craftsmen, artists and writers, asking if they would be willing to supply items for the house.
The Queen’s Dolls’ House - a completely original design - is 8ft 5ins wide, 4ft 8ins deep and 5ft high.
The grandfather clock in the entrance hall is one of seven clocks and two barometers donated by the London and Paris workshops of Cartier, while the kitchen includes crockery from Minton, Doulton and Wedgewood.
There is a working His Master’s Voice gramophone in the nursery and even a handwritten book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the library. In the cellar are hand-blown bottles of real vintage port, wine and champagne.
And outside, the garage comes complete with a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, Sunbeam Open Tourer, Lancaster limousine, Daimler limousine and a Daimler Station Bus. The garden opens up as a drawer is pulled out from beneath the house itself.
The Queen's Bedroom - the real thing at Windsor Castle
The Royal Collection, one of the world's greatest art collections, is held in trust by The Queen for her successors and the nation. The Collection is administered by the Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of the Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection and the promotion of public access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities. For more information visit www.royalcollection.org.uk