Valley of The Dolls: Q&A with Vintage Doll Aficionado Cole Eugene
When it comes to his hobbies, Cole Eugene is a lover of all things vintage. Under the name “KitschyFlower,” he’s a vintage reseller whose items range from clothing and home goods to dolls and toys. The whimsical child of antique sellers, he also uses his vintage passions by restoring vintage toys and making custom dolls. I got the chance to sit down with him to discuss the birth of his vintage passions, the ins and outs of his hobbies, and where he gets his inspiration.
Quotes have been edited for clarity. Read the full article online at thegavoice.com.
When did you first discover your love for crafting, antiquing and vintage toys? Pretty young in life. Both of my parents have owned antique stores; my father still does in the Marietta area, so growing up around vintage has impacted every part of my life. And how I got into doll making? I’ve kind of just always been into dolls, and I’ve always wanted to put my drawings into 3D form, so I finally did about three-and-a-half to four years ago.
You sell a bit of vintage fashion, but the majority of the stock on your Etsy shop and posts on your Instagram consists of vintage toys and dolls. Would it be safe to say that that’s your main focus when it comes to collecting vintage items? I would definitely say so. Of course, I love vintage fashion. I’ve been wearing vintage clothes since I was 14 or 15. I really enjoy clothes from the ‘70s and ‘60s, anything that’s just super bright and funk — even though I’m not a big fan of ‘80s fashion, which is definitely that, but it’s just not the same, like ... I’m not gonna do leg warmers, I’m sorry! I also love the ‘20s. It’s just very hard to come across any clothes past, really, I’d say the ‘50s. So, when you do, you gotta grab it. But because of Instagram, I have found a little niche in the doll community, and it has been really fun.
How did you find other vintage doll collectors to collaborate with? Mostly through Instagram! Back in the day it was through Tumblr. There were a few doll artists and collectors that were really cool on there, but the community wasn’t really developed compared to how it is now on Instagram. Also kind of through TikTok, but it’s still a newer app. It’s funny, I do a lot of media for TikTok, but I don’t really use it because I just know it’s super addictive. I have to use it a little bit, so I can get ideas and see what’s popular, but I’m not just gonna sit there and scroll for hours; I feel like my brain would be mush.
When making over a doll or vintage toy, how long does that take? It can take anywhere from two days to two weeks, just depending on the project. The ones I’ve been making more recently have been taking longer because I’ve been doing more detailing: the clothing and accessories, stuff like that. But if I wanted to do a really simple one, I could probably pop one out in a day.
Do you sew the clothes and style their hair yourself? Yeah, most of the time I source vintage fabric for the clothes. I’m super inspired by that psychedelic kind of look, so they fall right into place. On Etsy, a lot of sellers make custom sewing patterns for doll clothes and they’re usually pretty cheap, but I usually free hand it. Being a pre-fashion major helped with that.
And yes, I do style the hair myself. I’ve been into the big beehives recently, so I’ve been doing those a lot on dolls. I love doing my own hair and hair in general, but it’s more fun to do it on an object rather than a person because It’s less nerve-wracking. Sometimes I’ll use human hair on the dolls. I have a few friends who I’ve sourced hair from, which has been really cool to make them custom dolls and “mini me’s.” Being a licensed cosmetologist, I’m getting to use my degree in hair a little bit, so that’s always nice. I’ve dabbled in this and that and what I’m doing now is bringing everything together: fashion, hair, sculpting. It’s pretty awesome!
Where do you find your inspiration? I can kind of find them anywhere. It really just depends on the day and what I’m looking at. A lot of times I’m able to find my inspiration from vintage decor catalogs combined with the knowledge from current trends. I also love Twiggy! I always look back on her makeup and style. Anything kitschy, [I love] turning things that are kind of ugly and making them cute.
Where can people find you? @kitschyflower on Instagram, KitschyFlower on Etsy, and @kitschyflowers on TikTok.