In A Nutshell
Swanky Janes was born in Springville Utah when we, mother and daughter, put our heads and 26+ years of combined artistic experience together to design and create a topsy turvy doll. In the flurry of our design and eagerness to see how it would turn out, we used whatever materials we had on hand. The doll’s skin color was a lovely variegated flag blue and her hair was a frizzled mop of green yarn, ugly, but she worked!
We flew to the store to procure pretty fabrics and delicate yarns. Rushing back we carefully constructed our first official topsy turvy doll and christened our design: Double Dollies! Naturally, we had to create other doll designs to suit all tastes and ages and so we did. But wait! What about the boys? They need darling toys and gifts,too. So Swanky Janes designed softies and gifts for our Snappy Lads collection. We now have a range of dolls, softies, and gifts for the little lads and little ladies - perfect for baby showers, birthdays, holidays, or just "because you love 'em" days.
We have had a plethora of custom doll orders, ranging from an Anderson Cooper for a CBS producer, to ABC's Pretty Little Liars 4th season. Throw in a Sue Heck for a fan, and a Nana doll for a granddaughter missing her grandma who passed away. Let’s not forget the amazing Double Dollie an aunt commissioned us to do for her niece who was part Italian and part Bangali! And our all time favorite custom dolls - those made for amazing kids fighting cancer - these warriors have touched our hearts forever.
The back story of our story starts when my daughter, Blythe, was diagnosed with a debilitating chronic illness at the age of fourteen. All her plans,dreams, and aspirations abruptly moved to the back burner as just getting through one day at a time became her new creed. The juxtaposition came when at the peak of the illness she was "below sea level" and bedridden.
Many tears were shed by both of us with an aching heart as she
struggled to navigate life with this intruder upon her health.
As writing, art, and creating had always been a passion of hers,
we looked for ways she could continue in her invalid state.
It started with buttons. Hundreds and hundreds of brass buttons
my mom brought over from a find at a thrift store. They were a
bit hideous as brass, but the designs on them were lovely. I
showed them to Blythe and we wondered what they would look
like painted. With determination and no small effort, Blythe
got out of bed, gathered her acrylic paints and brushes. She
began to paint one small button in meticulous detail, each nook
and cranny. She transformed the ugly button into a miniature
piece of art. Encouraged, we prepped dozens of buttons for when
she felt she could paint them. Little by little, she made a
few collections and even started a Facebook page called
This all coincided with our creating our first Double Dollie, as she went to work designing and perfecting the hand painted faces for our different doll lines. There were many times she would pick up a brush only to find her hands shaking and weak and unable to hold the brush.. A week or more would pass until she felt able to try again. These were especially difficult times and hard to watch. Creating was like a breathe of life to Blythe. It wore on her spirits to be unable to do what her heart longed for and what brought her joy.
It was around this time we were approached by P.S. I Adore You and asked if we would donate a doll to the cancer cutie they were spotlighting that month. We decided to make the doll in the image of the sweet little girl who would receive it and Blythe painted her first "Just Like Me" Doll face. The experience was so poignant and heartwarming, we decided to make a doll for each new cancer cutie of the month. Helping create something for another boy or girl who was fighting such a terrible disease, brought Blythe a sense of purpose again and helped her through her own battle.
As time passed, her strength to create would wax and wane. She'd take every advantage of the good days and loved being part of our Swanky Janes venture.
My youngest son was born about 2 and 1/2 years after Blythe's diagnosis. By this time, her health was improving and our creative collaboration included wanting a line of softies and gifts for young boys. So Snappy Lads came into being, and ironically my own health battles arose and we had to put Swanky Janes on pause.
Fast forward two more years, to 2016. Here we are again, super excited to get Swanky Janes going again and keeping it going. Blythe is currently in the South on an 18-month service mission, which she is loving (prayers have been answered as her being able to do this is testament of).
While she is away, we'll need to put some of our doll lines on hold (I wait in the most eager anticipation for her return, as I miss her like crazy). In the meantime, life's experiences have caused us to reflect more and be grateful for the simplest things in life: a child's laughter, holding a paint brush, recognizing God's hand in our lives, and creating playable art for little ones.