Elsie is Part of Bereza Family
By Ann Chronic
Visit the Berezas of Hayneville
and you’ll be ushered right in, probably by one of their four children, and
hospitably offered a seat – right next to Elsie.
Elsie Dinsmore -- a brown-haired, hazel-eyed, rosy-cheeked
little girl wearing a blue flowered dress trimmed in lace – a little girl
who has all but taken over the Bereza’s home.
Her books and toys fill every nook and cranny. Her clothes
are strewn about. Her locket sits on the kitchen table. And just imagine
what she could do if she were real.
Yes, Elsie is just a doll. But to ladies age 3 to 94 across
the globe, Elsie is as alive as can be.
Bill and Lee Bereza created and now assemble and sell the
Elsie Dinsmore doll as a home business, called Breezy Point Treasures, run
by the entire family. A younger member of the family actually inspired the
Sarah, who is now 12, was at the age that she wanted a special
doll, Lee Bereza said. Lee wasn’t excited about the books that accompanied
the American Girl line of dolls, but had been reading Martha Finley’s Elsie
Dinsmore series, which was written in the late 1800’s. She considered the
stories to be character building with strong role models.
Around this time, the Berezas
traveled to San Antonio and decided to pay a visit to the Wheelers of Mantle
Ministries, who reprint the “unabridged, old-time versions (of Elsie books),
ink blots and all,” Lee said
That’s when the ball started rolling. They brainstormed with
the Wheelers and decided to have a go at the doll, thinking it would take
a few months to get started. It was more like two years.
“We wanted a doll made in America,” Lee said. And as soon
as you decide that, the price goes up, the quality goes up and the factory
availability goes down.
Finding people who could make Elsie to their specifications
seemed to take forever, Lee said. Those specifications included a high-quality,
detailed body and accessories, hands that would hold Elsie’s miniature Bible,
authentic-style clothes and a look that perfectly fit Elsie’s character.
But through networking, tireless
work and help from big-name doll designers who were happy to share their secrets,
they finally found all the right components to make Elsie dolls a reality.
That was a year ago. Since then, Elsie has become one popular
little girl. So popular, that the Berezas have sent dolls as far as Japan,
England, Germany and Belgium. Elsie will also be featured wearing an heirloom
dress for Simplicity patterns this holiday season.
Now the Bereza’s are creating
a doll of another of the books’ characters, Mildred, Elsie’s cousin.
For one family, keeping up with the demand is a lot of work.
However, the Berezas approach the task as a team effort. Samuel, 17, is the
“office manager.” He enters orders and keeps up with the numbers.
“At first I wasn’t interested in doing dolls,” he said. “But
I like doing the computer stuff.”
Sarah works in research and development. “ I don’t go forward
on anything unless Sarah likes what we’re doing.” Lee said. She also runs
Elsie’s Circle of Friends through computer pen pals.
Stephen, 10 and Seth, 8, help
prepare orders for shipping and take quite an interest in reading the Elsie
books, or rather, in the mishaps of a certain mischievous boy character who
In addition, Bill and Samuel
assemble the dolls, and Lee glues on the wigs.
The four siblings, who are home schooled, must balance their
time between school and Elsie. Lee designates mornings for study and homework.
“Our order forms say don’t call before 1pm.,” she said. So
far that system is working out fine.
Besides, the kids are learning
practical tools they may not have encountered until adulthood.
"It’s neat to see how we started from nothing and what
we’ve grown into." Samuel said. They’ve also learned, along with mom
and dad, what it really takes to run a business – patience, perseverance and
“But,” Lee said, “the joy
that we see in the ladies and girls makes any work we do worthwhile.”
The Elsie Dinsmore® Doll trademark
belongs to Breezy Point Treasures, Inc.
Dinsmore ® Doll Collection Featuring Elsie Dinsmore
and Mildred Keith®.
Dinsmore ® and Mildred Keith ® are registered trademarks.
Elsie Dinsmore is applied for as a registered trademark.
Registered trademarks and trademarks cannot be used without the
express consent of Breezy Point Treasurers, Inc.
124 Kingsland Road, Hayneville, GA 31036-8602 * Phone: 1-888-487-3777
* Fax: 1-912-987-3656 * E-mail: email@example.com