A Rowan County business went primetime Monday, introducing countless viewers to the realness of “reborn” babies.
Eight reborn dolls were purchased for use on the show “The Good Doctor” from the Little Dreamers Reborn Nursery & Boutique, 6660 US 60 West. The business is owned by Charlotte Meadows and Karen Hutchinson.
A reborn doll is a doll that has been transformed by an artist to resemble a human infant with as much realism as possible, according to Wikipedia.
The business has been open for just over a year but is moving to Mt. Sterling, 37 South Maysville Street, on March 1, to accommodate the growing popularity of owning a reborn doll.
The business partners met when Meadows came into Hutchinson’s Kid Connection consignment shop in Farmers looking for children’s clothes.
Meadows started creating reborn dolls about seven years ago after purchasing one online for her niece, Gracie.
“My niece was obsessed with reborn babies,” said Meadows. “She watched YouTube videos constantly. She wanted one for Christmas so I researched and bought one online. I was devastated. I paid a lot of money for it and it wasn’t very good at all.”
Gracie encouraged Meadows to get into the reborn business.
“You can do this, she said, please just sit down and watch some videos with me, let’s watch some tutorials and you just think about it,” Meadows said.
Meadows then ordered her first set of supplies, created one reborn and never stopped. Her reborns have been sold across the globe, including many in Europe.
Meadows’ babies also were for sale in the clothing store about three years until Hutchinson decided to go out of business. That led to the opening of Little Dreamers in December 2017.
With no formal art training, the pair have honed their skills to create lifelike dolls.
Creating a reborn involves numerous time consuming steps. A reborn has soft vinyl arms, legs and torso. A “cuddle baby” does not have lifelike arms or legs but fabric filled with a special kind of glass bead.
The reborns are created from kits that come with arms, legs and blank heads but can be customized based on a customer’s request.
Techniques include applying layer after layer of paint by hand to achieve mottling and skin tone, eyes that are open or closed, drilling out nostrils for a more realistic look, and manicured nails.
Babies are bald, have painted on hair or rooted hair added strand by strand. The rooted hair is usually mohair, alpaca, human or pre-dyed hair ordered from a doll supply store.
The reborns have weighted heads, arms and legs to feel like holding a real baby.
All Little Dreamers babies have a magnet inside the mouth to insert a pacifier, and come with a onesie or gown, hospital blanket and hat, pacifier, and birth certificate. Cry and laugh boxes can be inserted upon request.
There’s also an adoption process where little girls put on a lab coat, hair net and face mask, change a diaper and dress the baby at a changing station before having a picture taken for the Little Dreamers YouTube channel.
The time it takes to create a reborn depends on the kit and detail, anywhere from days to weeks, Hutchinson said.
Kits cost on average $20 to $300 and most of the reborns average $300. The ladies also have a layaway plan for fixed incomes.
The hobby of creating reborn baby dolls began in the early 1990s when doll enthusiasts wanted more realistic dolls.
Hutchinson said today’s customers range from little girls to women who lost children or can’t conceive to reborns bought for people with autism, dementia or those needing comfort.
Add to that list television drama series.
Hutchinson said when she answered the call from “The Good Doctor” she thought it was a prank.
The man wanted to purchase a doll that looked like a premature baby. Their Canadian credit card wouldn’t process so Hutchinson thought something was fishy. After paying through PayPal, however, they wanted seven more.
Little Dreamers had been discovered at Mt. Sterling Court Days. A medical consultant for “The Good Doctor” was so impressed with the detail of the reborns, he told producers they might want to consider getting some for the show.
“We’d really like to thank them,” Meadows said. “They didn’t have to pick us. They chose to support a little small business of two moms from Morehead, Kentucky. They didn’t have to,” she said.
“It lets other small business owners know you can get recognized outside of this area. It’s awesome,” Hutchinson added.