Journey of a Bat: the Making of a Limited-Edition Animal

Have you ever wondered how a Hazel Village limited-edition animal comes to be?¬†Let us tell you all about¬†the process¬†of creating Florence Bat! ūü¶áūüĆô

 

  

First, our head elf Jane decides what kind of animal will be visiting the Village next. She consults with our team to consider the animals that have visited in the past, as well as the animals that are often requested by our customers. Both are important factors to consider, but ultimately, she follows her heart!  

Every Hazel Village animal has a little story. Whether they are a permanent resident or a visiting friend, character comes first. Here is Florence Bat's story:

Sometimes, gliding among the starlit trees, Florence hears the soft wavelets of a forest pool. And sometimes she settles by the mossy bank for a minute, snacking on night bugs and thinking about this and that: her cozy cave, when the moon will rise, her new hat with flowers on it.

Once she has an idea of a new animal's character, Jane sketches the design and our resident sample maker here at the shop starts bringing them to life. Here is one of Jane's sketches of Florence:

 

 

Some animals are approved on the first or second sample, while others require more¬†tinkering before we're sure we have it right. We¬†tried¬†several different pattern designs for¬†Florence's face before we chose the final version ‚Äď bats are tricky!¬†

     

 

Limited-edition animals offer an opportunity for us to play with extra special details. For Florence, naturally, this was her wings! We experimented with different materials and decided that linen was the way to go, because it offers a fitting delicate bat-wing quality. (Did you know that real bats have translucent wings?) 

   

 

We explored hand embroidery versus machine stitching for the wing details, and chose hand embroidery because it just felt right. These fancy wings did increase Florence's production cost from that of a regular animal, so her retail price needed to be a little higher. We think she's worth it!

 

 

One of our favorite things about Florence is her pointed toes. No other animal has had this foot shape¬†before ‚Äď Florence is a pioneer! We also tried a version where she had little claws for gripping onto branches, but we decided it was a bit too creepy for a cuddly stuffed animal.¬†

Once we have a final sample for a new animal, we send it along to our artisan partners in Nepal who make all our dolls and animals. Jane happened to be visiting the team there earlier this year, so she was able to carry Florence's sample and meet with them in person to discuss her production. Here are some photos of Jane chatting with Manjita about Florence's special wing pattern:

 

    

While production gets rolling for a new animal in Nepal, we keep working on designing and sampling any special doll clothing and accessories that the animal might be bringing with them. Take a look at the design board for Florence's collection: 

    

 

We keep one of these boards for every collection we release, and it is always a working document. It starts as a big piece of paper that Jane brings in with her initial sketches. Later she will add color, and we will add notes for specific product details as they're decided. Jane often cut outs designs or glues in new ones to keep the board current as things change.

Collections¬†often¬†change quite a bit between design and production. Ethically manufacturing handmade doll clothing and sourcing high-quality materials is a complicated business! You may¬†have noticed that¬†the design board is not quite up to date with¬†Florence's final collection. For example, her pocket suspender leggings ended up being gray cotton rather than green. And see that full moon sweater next to the mini frog? We learned it wouldn't be possible to make enough of¬†this design in time for Florence's launch. But fret not ‚Äď it will be coming along later this year.

Sometimes certain items require special original artwork. Florence's Cloak of Night features Jane's original watercolor painting, and the bug-print artwork for Florence's camisole and bloomers was made by our talented workshop elf Sara!

 

   

When the collection's production is complete, it's time for our workshop team to get ready for the new animal's launch. Taking lots of cute photos of everything! Putting together newsletters and marketing content! Writing up descriptions for all the details of each item! Snipping threads! Preparing the items to ship out! All that and much more.  

   

      

When it's finally time to send Florence Bat from our workshop to your home, our packing elves will carefully bundle her up in a collectible bandana and tie it with an ivory-and-gold ribbon. We will tuck this cozy bat bundle into your package along with a special postcard. You can see Jane's original illustration for Florence's postcard below. 

           
 

And that¬†concludes the behind-the-scenes journey of¬†a Hazel Village limited-edition animal!¬† ‚ô•ÔłŹ

   

  

Shop Florence Bat ūü¶áūüĆô

 

You may also like:

All About Limited Edition Animals

Meet San! Behind the Scenes of our Cambodia Production

Sustainability at Hazel Village 

Feel free to email us any questions at hello@hazelvillage.com!