Goose Grease’s Wooden Peg Dolls Delight
“Our concept is a simple one: a return to the timeless, hand painted wooden doll, embedded within a fair trade economy”, says Anna Donado, co-founder of Goose Grease. The company’s name, which is an old Southern term for a universal medicine that cures all ailments, speaks to the doll’s curative properties in childhood fun (and in a social responsibility sense). Owned by husband and wife team Juan and Anna Donado, the company started on Etsy when the makers’ site was nascent. The wooden dolls are hand crafted by a small carpenter in Bogota, Columbia, where Juan is from. “We pay a fair price per piece with no intermediaries involved. We connected with the carpenter we work with by word-of-mouth. He has become one of our most valued partners”, Anna says.
The two co-founders came from diverse backgrounds: Juan is a writer with a PhD in philosophy. Anna is a painter from Virginia with an MFA in acting. They are using their creativity in a fresh way through Goose Grease—with new sets of dolls (Artists, Community Members, Superheroes and more) and regular arts and crafts classes offered in Brooklyn.
The company started direct-to-consumer. “The transition to wholesale came by request”, Anna says, remembering a French boutique who placed a sizeable order early on. “The learning experience made us start thinking about the wholesale model, which has grown considerably since that first order”. This past February, Goose Grease showed the line at Playtime New York, including their pre-made dolls that come in sets of four, as well as their blank DIY sets.
In fact, it was their DIY sets that inspired their latest endeavor launching in May: the duo’s children’s book, (Not so) Blank Henry. “It’s about a blank peg doll who wakes up one day with a lot of decisions to make. How to do his hair, what to wear and which imaginary journeys he will go on that day. At the end, he doesn’t feel blank anymore, he feels radiant”, Anna says.
Although the DIY doll set is their most popular (it’s been around longer, says Anna), the colorful sets, hand painted by 10 artisans that are each personally trained by the founders, are holding their own. As the number of sets grows, so does the team. Anna looks forward to a new set that will be sold exclusively through the MOMA (more details coming soon!), and the many other opportunities launching from their universe of custom orders, wholesale and art classes. “We’ve learned so much but perhaps the biggest lesson has been to see how our business reflects our lifestyle and vice-versa”, Anna says. As to what’s on the horizon she adds: We’ve had big surprises but we are confident our biggest surprise is yet to come!”