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 enterprise.

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 inhabits them.

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 prayer.

“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.

The 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: breezypoint@mindspring.com