The Sisters of La Boutique Purse of the Month Club

 Do you have a closet full of designer purses? A different purse for every day of the week...of the year? Do you wish you could do the same for your fashion doll? Let me introduce you to Diana and Janet.

Diana Wieler and Janet Ellis are the sisters behind La Boutique Purse of the Month Club (POTM). Every month they offer new spectacular designer purses and coordinating outfits for our favorite fashion dolls.  Most of their offerings are geared to the 12" dolls, but they occasionally have something for the larger 16" gal, too.  I used the occasion of POTM's fifth anniversary to ask them some questions regarding their business.

FDR: Where are you located?
Diana: We both live in the Niagara Penninsula/wine country of Ontario Canada. Janet lives in St. Catharines and I'm in the metropolis of Grimsby.

FDR: What is your background? Did you study fashion in school or was this a hobby that blossomed into a business?
Janet: I have always loved fabric and sewing, and I sewed for our dolls when we were younger. Diana always gave my outfits away and only kept the shoes! I studied sewing and design in high school and learned pattern drafting, tailoring, and the history of fashion after high school. During the last 5 years, I have worked at the Shaw Festival Theatre in Niagara on the Lake, in the wardrobe department. This past season, as a Wardrobe Coordinator, I worked with designers and was able to be part of the design process.
Diana: I have a background in the arts, and I have done everything from miniature sculpture to leatherwork.

FDR: What was behind the creation of POTM?
Diana:  Although Janet and I had been creating outfits on eBay for several years, an idea came to my mind and it would not leave me alone.  I sounded like a parrot squawking, "Purse of the month, purse of the month.”  Five years ago we began.  Our very first offering was the Lulu Purse Shop tote. I make the purses, and Janet designs the fashions.
September 20102 Elite Ensemble

FDR: For each month, which idea comes first, the purse or the outfit? Have you always offered outfit pieces and complete ensembles to go with your purses?
Janet: We determined long ago that the best way to proceed was for the purse to lead.  Many of our customers are avid purse and shoe fans and were attracted to the authentic details.  This was the beginning, and then the fashions were created around the concept of the purse.  Many times, it is an exact coordinate, and other times, it echoes something in current fashion today.

FDR: Are your items done in specified limited editions?
Diana:  Initially we began with limited editions of 50, but we hated to have any doll disappointed, so we will create the purses and garments until the materials are gone.

FDR: How do you decide which designer purse to offer?
Diana:  I take note of what is going on in the fashion world and I also have several books on purses that I find inspirational.  I have to choose purses that I feel I can re-create realistically.

FDR: Which has been your favorite purse and/or outfit to create? Which has presented the greatest challenge and why?
Janet: I can’t put my finger on an exact favorite, but I do enjoy tailoring and am drawn to the classics, such as Chanel. I try and incorporate many of the haute couture techniques into the one-sixth scale fashion. I simply love the challenge of applying piping.
Diana: You know my most recent was the Mary Frances Happy bag, even though the detailing was a real challenge.

FDR: Where do you find all the little fasteners required for the purses? They’re all in perfect scale.
Diana:  I search the world to find those little bits and pieces, and being a miniaturist teaches you to view something in a new way.

LB Boyz Fashions for Men
 FDR: I also recently noticed on your Picture Trail that you have items for the 12" male fashion dolls. Are these items still available?
Janet: I enjoy creating for the male dolls as well. It’s fun to try and re-create the details of a man's shirt, which are so subtle. And YES, they are still available.

FDR: Do you still take commissions? How does that process usually work?
Diana: We have received requests from customers all over the world, and they often send photos, which is a starting point. Most collectors that have a custom request have a strong idea of what they want and we are happy to work along with them.
Janet: I enjoy the challenge of trying to find or create a fabric or design that is exactly or near exact to the photo they have sent.

FDR: What is it like working with your sister? How do you coordinate your efforts on a project?
Janet: Diana and I are two creative people. We both applaud each others work and have a great deal of respect. Because our skills and contributions to the project are so different, we never step on each others toes. Diana begins the process with the purse and then I create the design and sew the ensemble. Then it goes back to Diana, who finishes the accessory process. She often comments that she can only finish the collection when she sees the garment on the doll standing before her.
Diana: It’s really magical, the ideas that are sparked when we sit down together. Better than what either of us would have come up with on our own. This brainstorming often happens before any work is done.

FDR: Do you attend or sell at any doll conventions? If so, which ones? If not, why not?
Janet: Diana and I once had the opportunity to meet up with some of the collectors at a doll show and it was a lot of fun. We don’t have the lives that have allowed us to travel, however, we have really developed personal relationships with many of our customers. We consider them our long-distance friends.

FDR: Have you won any awards or received recognition that you’d like us to mention?
Janet: We have been profiled in several magazines including Haute Doll and Fashion Doll Quarterly.  We also had the honour of being judges for a Project Runway type contest for doll designers.

FDR: What is your favorite clothing era and why?
Janet:  Diana loves the 60’s for purses, however I am somewhat drawn to the 40’s.  Mainly because of the hour glass sillouette and the fine tailoring of that era.

FDR: Do you have a favorite doll?
Janet: We’re not allowed to have favorites, in fact we cover their ears when we are making decisions on who will wear the collection pieces that month.

FDR: What attracts you to a particular doll?
Janet: A La Boutique girl has a face that appears to be looking back at you, and has a winsome smile.

A big thank you to Janet and Diana for taking the time out of their busy schedule to participate in this interview. Please visit their Picture Trail website to view their extensive line of purses and clothing. Also, you can send an email to Diana in order to be on their first to know list for each new POTM purse.