Not Chef Gina - the brains behind the culinary world of hand-crafted fake food items. Gina Marie King, also known as Chef Gina of ChefGinas.com, has developed an incredible line of products geared towards an enthusiastic customer base - doll collectors! In fact, the business has grown to include more than just the small dolls that may come to mind for many.
Customers also include those looking for "fake food" items for life sized settings! Customers can include everyone from a young girl with a growing collection to a model maker specializing in World War Two settings. Don't rule out seeing Gina's "fake food" items in restaurant windows, wedding cake designer shops, and maybe even museums. All of this from a chef who also has over 140 dolls in her collection.
From the Real Kitchen to the Doll House
When asked about the leap from a kitchen to producing food items for dolls the question, according to Gina, seems to center around her ability to cook. "Yes," Gina says, "I can really cook! In fact I have an Associate’s Degree in Applied business with a major in Culinary Arts. My specialty was high volume cooking for up to thirty thousand."
Gina has worked in the food industry for over thirteen years but says she has also always loved dolls. She says the idea for combining her two passions into a small business began as almost a hobby in the late 1990's.
"Chef Gina’s originally started on Ebay in 1999," said Gina. "When our business started to grow we eventually started our own website www.chefginas.com. We have always been strictly online sales with no breaks in service. It has just kept on growing." That growth demanded expanding the product line from small to larger, and larger, and even larger dolls including life sized settings including items such as the wedding cake pictured.
"We had a lot of requests for food items for 16 inch dolls." Customer satisfaction, word of mouth, shows, and no breaks in offering items seemed to bring in customers with larger sized dolls. "It grew to 18 inch dolls - so we I expanded. Then, due to requests, I started designing items for 24 inch dolls and eventually even food items for and life sized customers."
Chef Gina’s has 6 different scales that fit 11.5in, 12in, 16in, 18in, 24 in and life size dolls. "I think it caught on with adult collectors because we love to play out our alter ego, reminisce about our child hood and just escape from our busy lives," Gina says."
A Growing Fan Base!
Chef Gina, pictured above, takes time to have her picture taken with young fans.
Gina, and her husband Kelly, love the idea of growing the business towards life sized items for commercial customers but know that the bread and butter of the product line is geared towards a dedicated customer base.
"We have dedicated customers ranging from little girls, who I love meeting at shows and events, to professional military historians who build museum quality displays."
Food Earrings? YES!
The other side of the Chef Gina business is the line of foodie related jewelry. The brand now offers everything from earrings to charm bracelets and more!
"It's fun!" Chef Gina said. "We offer a pretty neat line of items including earrings, ornaments, necklaces, rings, hair-clips, magnets and more."
Fun is right! The line includes items geared towards foodies such as the a Waffle Necklace, bagel earrings, a Cannoli Ornament, and even a Christmas Cookie magnate complete with a bite taken out of it.
All of the items in the Chef Gina Jewelry line are made to to the same detail standards as the items in the doll line. After all, you can't be seen with a waffle necklace that does not look like it's dripping with fresh sliced strawberries and hot maple syrup!
Thanks to Mom and Family!
Gina's dedication to her growing fan base and customers has become more than just a business. It has become something that includes not only her husband Kelly but other family members as well. It started when Gina was laid off for a short time and her mother suggested combining her love for the culinary life with her passion for dolls.
Gina says her mom said something along the lines of; "Gina, make some food for the doll collection!" Gina thought the idea was a bit strange because she knew that barbies didn't really eat. Her mom, Peggy, was persistent because she had an idea that doll collectors would want realistic food for their dolls to enjoy.
Eventually Peggy gave Gina an Easter basket packed with clay. It was a gift the Gina say's did two things. "The basket of clay started a business and mom and I stayed up all night playing with the clay! What a memory!"
Gina says her brother plays an important role as well. "James, who is my brother, is the set and design manager. He can design and build anything! A lot of his work has appeared in magazines over the years."
Chef Gina's is an amazing small business built on the love of both the culinary world and doll collection. The customers for the business range from passionate young girls who need a dish for their doll's elegant tea party or cookout to historians and modelers.
For more information:
ETSY Store: Chef Gina's ETSY Shop