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How to earn money making Custom-Built Dollhouses for individuals want to quit their jobs and start their careers as an entrepreneur are as follows:
Description of Job
• Build dollhouses to order, with custom colors and flourishes, based on
plans and precut kits.
• Create one-of-a-kind dollhouses based on the dreams and wishes of clients.
The Need
Little dollhouses are big business for some youngsters (and their doting parents).
In many cultures, dollhouses are an important part of a young girl’s childhood.
Many adults look on them as a family heirloom or collector’s item that can
be passed on from one generation to the next.
For a child who is serious about finding a proper home for a family of dolls,
a cheaply made, mass-produced plastic dollhouse from a toy store may be completely
unacceptable.
Challenges
A custom-made or specially adapted dollhouse can cost hundreds of dollars.
Although dollhouses don’t quite follow the building code of a real home, some
of the same construction skills and techniques are necessary. Because they are
viewed close-up, the attention to finishing details must be meticulous.
Know the Territory
The simplest way to operate this sort of business is to assemble and customfinish
precut kits that are sold by a number of national and regional companies.
Your customers can choose any home and specify colors, wall and floor coverings,
and other elements.
More demanding of your skills is building dollhouses based on plans selected
by your client. You will be responsible for obtaining wood and other materials,
cutting them to size, and assembling them. You’ll find many sources for plans,
including books, catalogs, and web sites.
Experienced woodworkers can offer to draw plans, specify materials, and
build a home from scratch. The ultimate in customization is also the most expensive
process.
You can sell your products at craft fairs, through direct sales generated by ads
and web sites, and in cooperation with high-end toy stores and home decor stores
that want to offer custom products to their customers.
How to Get Started
Build some sample homes to show to clients; take extensive photographs of all
jobs you complete to include in an album or to display online.
Post flyers and business cards in community centers, schools, and shopping
centers. Place ads in newspapers, shopping guides, and specialized newsletters
aimed at collectors.
Make contact with high-end toy stores, hobbyist shops, and home decor
stores and seek places to display samples of your work. Offer to pay a commission
or bonus to stores for business they refer to you.
Rent a table at craft shows and holiday fairs to display some of your work and
to show catalogs of possible projects.
Offer to teach a course at a community school; you will receive some publicity
and perhaps some clients. Offer to give demonstrations at community and senior
centers—grandparents may commission your work for that special grandchild.
Up-front Expenses
You’ll need a woodworking tool kit, plus supplies for painting, staining, and
decorating. You should also plan on building a few samples of your work to show
to customers and to display at craft fairs and in retail stores that agree to refer
clients to you.
Materials for a relatively simple custom dollhouse can cost in the range of
$150 to $300; more complex jobs use more expensive materials. Prefabricated
kits can require just a few hours to assemble and a few more hours for painting
and finishing. Working from plans requires additional hours for purchasing and
cutting materials and for assembly. The most time-consuming projects involve
custom design, specification, cutting, and assembly; these jobs may require 20 to
40 hours of work plus the cost of materials.
How Much to Charge
Most dollhouse builders quote a bottom-line price that includes the cost of materials
and time spent in assembly and finishing. Add an extra fee for designing the
house from scratch, taking into account that assembly will require considerably
more time than working from a kit.
The cost of prefabricated kits—before labor, paint, and finish—ranges from
as little as $50 for a simple plywood-faced shed to several hundred dollars or
more.

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