Maybe you've seen her work on Facebook or Instagram. Or maybe you've seen it more recently in Swizz Beats’ #lilgoddess contest. Either way, Dee Dee is a pretty big deal. Her medium of choice?. Needle and thread. Dee crochets beautiful, intricate dolls for anyone who needs a smile, and the best part about them is you can literally find one for every person. Chocolate dolls, honey dolls, dolls with braids and Afros and dolls with hijabs. Not only that but she puts a little “sparky heart” into each doll and even provides adoption papers so that each doll can properly become a part of each family. After battling through her own struggles of infertility and seeing first hand how many kids have to face haunting realities that they did not ask for, Dee decided to turn her passion into purpose. By creating OffDHookCreations Dee is able to create and donate dolls to Meals on Wheels, Hospitals, homeless shelters, and a few other charitable organizations. Dee understands the importance and gift of a simple smile, of happiness, and inclusion through representation. It is because of her heart and talent that we fell in love with Dee. Check out our intimate interview with this amazing crafter, and learn more about why she is one of our favorites.
Who is Dee Dee and when did she fall in love with her art?
Who is Dee Dee? Hmm that's a good question. I guess I'd say I'm no one in particular. I'm average. I'm a mother, a wife, a professional, a volunteer, a caretaker, a counselor and a friend. I'm a woman, who like so many others, have suffered through life's challenges and risen above to be stronger, more knowledgable and more powerful then ever. Someone who has decided not to let the negative things going on in the world affect her and to look at EVERY situation in a positive light. I always look for the positive in any situation no matter how bad it is, if you look hard you will find something.
We have to learn from the past and embrace those lessons, otherwise we will continue to repeat the same viscous and toxic cycle. I think it's this thought process that keeps me going and makes me the person I am today.
I originally learned to crochet when I was 16yrs old. I always wanted to learn to knit, as my Gran was a knitter, but she didn't have the patience to teach me. So, during my time volunteering at the local hospital ( I started when I was 15) one of the patients was crocheting and I asked her to please show me what she was doing. Well, she had been crocheting forever and crocheted too fast for me. She told me to get the book "Learn to Crochet in just one day" by Leisure Arts ( yes a book long before the Internet and YouTube). I got the book the same day and was hooked. I crocheted all the time and took my projects everywhere (much like I do today!). Imagine a high school student sitting at HS basketball and football games with a crochet project in their hand. Needless to say I was the laughing stock. UNTIL they saw my projects. I was making scarves at the time and everyone wanted one. I was no longer the laughing stock but the girl who made really cool things.
What we love most about your brand is the intention to include demographics that are often ignored in the toy industry. Describe why it was so important for you to create a brand like this?
I think as a person who spent most of her life invisible, I believe that everyone has a voice. That Everyone should be represented. We live in the most diverse country in the world, yet the majority of the people living here can't find dolls that look like them. That sensitivity comes from living in areas which have a high population of immigrants. As well as taking several courses and learning about cultural diversity and having many courses in cultural sensitivity. You don't have to agree with someone's culture but you do need to respect.
DOLLS are so important to a girls development in so many ways. They can help with self esteem issues, especially when the doll looks just like you and has all the similar characteristics (including a hated feature) They can help a young child internalize and cope with various issues she/he may be experiencing. They help with exploring imagination. Doll play has long been utilized in the healing arts, and has been known to assist in significant ways.
A doll is usually a girl's/child's best friend when they are young. They are a cherished doll, best friend, and confidante. Someone to share our joy, happiness, success, secrets, goals, ambitions, and aspirations. And sometimes they share our inner demons, pain, suffering, sorrow, and possibly tragedies. Our dolly is there through the good times and bad with constant love and support that may not be provided elsewhere. Dolls/best friends won't tell our secrets or let us down. So often people ask me why I don't add a smile to my dolls. Well I leave that up to their owner. Not everyday is a good day. And as a young child's feelings and emotions change they can decide what look or mood their dolly should have. Basically the dolls mood and facial features are left up to the imagination and interpretation of their owner. I believe Dolls can have healing power and make a world of difference in the life of a young child that wouldn't ordinarily confide in others.
I learned this concept when working with pediatric clients and seeing how beneficial having dolls that look like them were. Or how you could teach them about a procedure etc by using the doll/ bear as an example.
How do you define success? And how do you measure up to your own definition?
Im a perfectionist so I attack any situation in my life in a very specific, systematic, organized, methodical way. I live my life by the statement " I've got to be twice as good to be considered equal. " So I measure my success by how I feel about the outcome. Meaning I have to be the absolute best at what I do. We live in an extremely competitive world and in order to survive you need to be on top of your game. I have to be proud of what I've achieved or I don't stop, I can't stop, and I won't stop. Thus I measure my success by whether I'm proud of what I've done. Achieving success means being truly happy with whatever you do.
What's one thing you've really wanted to do but haven't? What's holding you back?
Start making fabric dolls to donate to children in foster care. What's holding me back? Lol I need time to practice. I didn't like the one I did and would never allow something to go to any child, even one in foster care if I wasn't 110% proud of what I'd done. If anything I think those children deserve an even better doll because of everything they've been through.
What is your earliest recollection of you creating something that truly impacted someone's life?
When I was 16 yr old I volunteered at the local children's hospital and a couple nursing homes. I started making things for people in both organizations to make them smile. But I've always been the champion of the under dog. So I always interfered for example the kid at school that kids would pick on. The elderly lady who needed help with her groceries. I've always been very sensitive to the needs of others. And have been the fixer whenever I could. As my family would say, I'm the caretaker in the family, always taking on a new project or collecting strays.
As a child the entire neighborhood was at my grandmother or mother's house and the legacy continues with me, always having a house full, providing the neighborhood hang out and safe haven for kids to be kids and just have fun and play. P.s. I've been told I have some of the most fun and cool games in the world for kids all the way to adults.