Thursday, November 5, 2009
With a stud in her tongue and dark locks belonging on a Woodstock rock star, you would never guess Stephens College senior Sarah spends her free time playing with dolls.
That’s because Sarah, 20, lives in two worlds: the real world and the viral world. By day, she is your average college student with a flair for music and dance. By night, she’s “stephenswodadancer” (a combination of her college and the acronym for her hometown dance studio, White Oak Dance Academy), YouTube’s guru on all things American Girl, the Mattel owned doll line.
Sarah, a Blue Springs, Mo. native, has become one of the modern era’s instant celebrities. Her YouTube channel is a haven for girls of all ages yearning for anything and everything American Girl, with 4,061 subscribers checking her page daily for updates.
“I didn’t think it would ever amount to something that I could make a living doing … but, now, I don’t know where it will take me,” Sarah said. “I just started it for fun.”
Sarah, a dance major at Stephens, joined YouTube in June 2007 to watch friends’ dance competition videos and check out other peoples’ choreography for inspiration. The idea of making American Girl doll themed videos never crossed her mind until she stumbled upon one girl’s YouTube page.
“I wound up finding [user] unodosginger’s American Girl videos and watched them for hours and I thought ‘This is so cool.’ I wound up talking to some girls on YouTube and thought that I could make videos of my own,” Sarah said.
On September 20, 2008, Sarah posted “My American Girl Dolls,” her first American Girl video, a minute and half clip showcasing her doll catalog, which at the time included only 10 dolls. Today, she owns 25.
Sarah’s collection grew over time, starting with one doll at age 10 with consequent additions for nearly every gift-giving occasion since then. Starting as just playthings, the dolls soon became a passion.
“The historical dolls have a story and I enjoyed reading their books when I was younger … the characters were good role models for girls and they still are,” Sarah said, explaining her love for the dolls.
After her “My American Girl Dolls” video was posted, girls flooded Sarah’s inbox with comments asking about her dolls and begging her to post a second video.
As interest grew in Sarah’s collection and her creativity in doll styling, she made the decision to create how-to videos on different hairstyles, American Girl crafts and care and maintenance of the dolls.
“I think the how-to videos are the thing people most enjoy … people were asking me how I did the dolls’ hair [in the first video] so I made a couple just to see and girls just wanted more,” Sarah said.
“Stephenswodadancer” has now become a branding opportunity for Sarah. YouTube has put her in contention for partnership, an agreement between the site and its users to get paid for videos through advertising support, and various people have approached her about creating professional American Girl doll DVD tutorials, Gipson said. Aside from her YouTube account, Sarah has launched a blog where her fans can get updates on her life and a “doll hospital,” a business where girls can send in their dolls for repairs and interact in online doll discussions.
Unveiling Secrets and Expanding
Until college, Sarah kept her doll collection a secret, only telling close friends and family.
“People in high school weren’t mature enough to realize that it’s not just for little kids,” Sarah said.
Once she got to Stephens, Sarah decided her hobby was nothing to be ashamed of, sharing her collection with friends like Becca Nelson, a fellow dance major at Stephens.
“At first I was taken aback, but at least it’s not Barbie dolls, that would be creepier … now I’m pretty fascinated. I think I even want my own doll for Christmas,” Nelson said.
Sarah’s video library has since evolved from simple how-to videos to full-length stop-motion movies and music videos. A longtime artist, Sarah saw the opportunity to take her creativity to the next level. Teaching herself how to use Windows Movie Maker, Sarah created 18 stop-motion videos and 101 how-to videos over the past year.
“They’re fun but frustrating. You work for three hours taking hundreds of pictures and then you put it together and have 10 seconds of material,” Sarah said. “But, in the end, it’s worth it.”
Her favorite stop-motion, a music video to Sir Mix A Lot’s “Baby Got Back,” is the icebreaker Sarah uses to let new friends into the world of “stephenswodadancer.”
“She pulled out her laptop and showed us the ‘Baby Got Back’ video and it was pretty awesome. It’s impressive how long it takes her to make each of the stop-motion videos,” Nelson said.
Beyond Dolls: A Family Affair
Sarah’s father, Ted, is one of her biggest supporters, appearing in a sampling of her videos on how-to build recreations of American Girl’s line of doll furniture for a fraction of the average $120 price tag.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to recreate American Girl furnishings in the interest of saving money and helping out other girls and their fathers,” Ted said.
But, don’t think all Sarah does is play with dolls. Dancing has long captivated her life, Ted said. Sarah currently spends 20 hours a week dancing. As part of her degree plan, she’s in charge of her own musical numbers for an end of the year dance recital at Stephens College.
Sarah’s other passion is music. Professing herself a “hippie lover” in a number of her videos, Sarah has become an avid collector of classic rock, Broadway musical and Beatles’ albums. Sarah and her father frequent antique shops, where she has picked up a couple of her dolls and a variety of classic albums.
“We find treasures we would never have even thought of, like an original recording of ‘West Side Story’ … it’s a great bonding experience,” Ted said.
The one thing still surprising Sarah about being “stephenswodadancer” is the title of role model – a title her father, Ted, dubs “cool” - that comes along with it.
“It’s really cool to see the response girls have to the videos … one girl made me a video where she wrote a paragraph long video description about how inspiring I was. I never thought I’d be a role model for anyone,” Sarah said.
Sarah’s YouTube inbox is flooded with hundreds of comments every day. Comments like “We all love you…you make the most amazing videos ever!” by user “DumbTwinsXOXO” and “You are my idol!” from “cinguhowa” are commonplace on her YouTube site. A set of sisters even created a fan page for her, an honor Sarah calls “flattering.”
Sarah will stop making videos one day, but she doesn’t see that day being in the near future. Sarah is constantly looking out for inspiration and motivation.
“The stories that I get everyday from a mom who will message me about how her daughter and her love watching my videos keeps me going,” Sarah said.
One such post, from user “cordieblythe,” reads as follows:
I am over 30 and have been collecting dolls all my life. My 8-year-old daughter and I love to watch your YouTube videos together. Abi especially likes the stop motion and role-playing videos. I enjoy the how-to’s and have learned a lot from you. We only wish you lived a little closer so you babysit her. Abi hopes to make a movie of her own using pictures like you do … Happy Halloween! Cathy & Abi in Kansas.”
While she’ll graduate with a degree in dance from Stephens, her original goal of becoming a dance teacher has been replaced by another aspiration.
“Working at the American Girl store at the Mall of America would be amazing … I’m really good with little girls so working there is right up my alley. That would be awesome,” Sarah said.
Sarah’s personal shopper dream job at the Mall of America’s American Girl store would finally unite her two worlds – her real life and her YouTube life – and bring her American Girl experience full circle.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
We never know for sure why these things happen to the people we care about but the main thing that I like to live by is "Everything happens for a reason" We may not see that reason now or anytime soon...but things happen for a reason. God already knows the reason and he knows what he is doing. Even if it doesnt make sense to us he has a plan that only he knows and some answers to our questions only he can answer.
I really hope those of you that were friends with her or that knew her are doing alright. She was one of my faithful subscribers as well as a member on my doll hospital and I know that I will miss her posts and comments. She is such a sweet girl and I know she is looking down on us all now and I bet she is so happy to be in such an amazing place. When you get upset you just have to look at it that way...that she is in a better place and no one can ever hurt her or be mean to her again. Just remember that.
Please pray for her family and the family that had to find her. And if you are not religious please keep your thoughts with her family as they go through this hard time. Also, I am here for you girls if you were close to her and you are having a hard time with all of this news. I am here to listen anytime you need me. I love all you girls stay strong and be thankful to be alive and healthy because so many people out there are not nearly as blessed as we are.
http://www.youtube.com/user/iluvamericangirl12 (her you tube)
Sunday, October 18, 2009
I wont leave you tube but it is definitely not fun anymore like it used to be. Back when we were all friends and no one was fighting with anyone...and people were not making these accounts about me as well as other girls who are fairly well known on you tube because they are probably secretly jealous. Now to be honest I don't see myself as special or different in any way whatsoever...so why me? And their reasoning is because I "yell" at little girls and "harass" them to click on my ads so I can make money....OK first of all I am not harassing anyone just by posting something in my channel description about the ads.
And Second...I DO get money when people click and I am in college trying to find a way to make money to begin paying off my student loans after I graduate next May so what is wrong with asking people to help me out a little by doing something as simple as clicking an ad...then hitting the back arrow...and going about their business? I just dont understand I am not the ONLY adult in the world who collects dolls.
Some of the ladies on AGplaythings are like in their 40's and 50's and they have like 60 AG dolls!! What about them? I love those ladies and I almost guarantee that will be me someday and you know what? I cant wait! I just dont get why its like people think that I am the ONLY person above the age of 12 on the planet who collects dolls...which is definitely not the case....Ugh ok time for bed I think...I'm tired lol
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Oh yeah! Check out Skylar's new blog!! She would love it :) Her link is http://stephanieandskylar.blogspot.com/
P.S. PLEASE click on the ads on this blog, Sky's blog and my doll website!!!
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Ugh I am soooo ridiculously tired today its not even funny. I couldn't sleep last night so I got like 3 hours of sleep til I had to get up for class. Your all probably thinking "then why are you posting a blog and not napping?!?!" thats a great question ;) I do need to take a nap lol but I just wanted to update everyone :) I got my new doll!! Skylar (#49) got here 2 days ago. She is SOOOOOO gorgeous! If you are on the fence about getting her or not you should definitely do it! The pictures from AG.com do NOT do this doll justice at all. Here are some pictures of her that I took after I got her. I also got the new Sweet Melody outfit which definitely gets an A+++ for cuteness! It looks adorable on her. Her hair is also really soft and easy to do. For a long haired doll her seems like it will be very easy to take care of. Its much easier then Elizabeths and Sonali's.
Anyways other then that I have been choreographing my dances for the senior dance concert that is coming up in December. Each senior dance major has to choreograph a dance that equals about 8 minutes long. I am doing 2 dances though. I have a tap I am choreographing with 5 girls to the song "5 guys named Moe". Its so cute :) I have like a minute and 30 seconds done so I still have a minute left to choreograph. And my other piece is a contemporary piece to the song "Imagine" by John Lennon. Then the song transitions into "Dear Prudence" from Across the Universe, and the end of the dance is to "Here comes the sun" by The Beatles. It is about 6 minutes long and I have 2 minutes 30 seconds done on it. I have 9 dancers for that dance and it looks so pretty so far. I cant wait to get done with it and see it on stage for the first time. Its gonna be so worth all the hard work I am putting into it.
I am working on a new stop motion video with my dolls as well as a music video with them as well. They are the ones I keep talking about on you tube. I am working on them whenever I have time but if you read above my free time is few and far between lately lol. But hopefully they will be done soon. I think you guys are really gonna like them :) Also please check out Skylars blog! She has a blog with her twin sister Stephanie and they update it regularly and they would love it if you visited and talked to them :D Anyways I will talk to you guys soon!!! Thanks for reading this! :D
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
AND NOW FOR A DOLL UPDATE!!!
Jess has been here for about a week now and she came to me in need of a little TLC but I am happy to report that she is almost done! So far I have washed her hair and given her a nice long downy dunk. She is really enjoying her day at the spa so far :) The things I still need to do on her are clean up her skin, give her hair a steam treatment, and re-glue her retracted eyelash. I cant wait until she is done! I have the entire GOTY collection now and I am so excited to do a big photo shoot with all of them :) I'll try and post pictures on here after I am finished. Are you doing anything with your dolls lately? If so what have you been doing with them since school started?
Monday, September 14, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
DON'T CHICKEN OUT, GIRLS! If you have a blog, then I want to see yours! :]
Does your Facebook password have to do with a boy?
a boy…but not a human boy lol
What's one thing a guy can do to make you like them?
make me laugh, and be really sweet
Big or small purses?
Do you enjoy drama?
Its safe to say I hate drama more then anything else in the world
Did you dress up on Halloween?
Yeah…I was a Go-Go dancer lol gotta love old dance costumes
How many guys will read this just because it says "FEMALE SURVEY"?
Can you put on mascara without opening your mouth?
Have you ever been called a bad influence?
Do you think you're pretty, honestly?
every once in a while.
Eyeliner or mascara??
both but I cant live without my eyeliner
American Eagle or Hollister?
neither lol but I have a few Hollister things so I guess Hollister
Heels or flats?
heels. I’m way too short for flats lol
Skirts or jeans?
Straight or curly hair?
My hair is straight but I like it better when I fix it curly
Hoops or dangling earrings?
Have you ever had your heart broken?
um…yeah about that…
Do you prefer light or dark haired guys?
Do you like your life?
most of the time
Ever walked into the guy's bathroom?
haha ya once when I was little
Have you ever jumped in the pool with your clothes on?
not that I can remember but maybe
Have you ever cried yourself to sleep?
many times when I was younger
Have you ever not been able to get someone off of your mind?
Do you ever wish you were famous??
Preppy or Punk/goth?
hippie baby lol
Good cook or take you out a lot??
Funny or Serious?
Cute or Hot?
Long or short hair?
I like it a little longer but not longer then mine lol!
Smoker or non-smoker?
Tall or short?
taller then me but I don’t care how much taller
Your best friend of the opposite sex likes you, what do you do?
Been there done that haha but in my case we dated first and now we are best friends :D
When is the last time you were in a photo booth taking pictures with a friend?
I never have…that’s pathetic
Have you ever seen someone you knew and purposely avoided seeing them?
haha ya! Try everyone I went to high school with that I didn’t like that I have ever seen since I graduated lol!!
On average what do you think you cry about the most?
idk…probably my personal relationships/friendships
Who was the last guy you talked to?
Do you think best friends can be replaced?
Not in a million years. I love Kat and Zack and idk what I would do without them
Does the last person you held hands with mean a lot?
Yes he does. He is my best friend in the world
Do you think you have made a difference in anyone's life?
Yeah. A few people at least I hope lol
What friend do you tell the most??
Zack, Kathryn, and my mom. It’s a tie
Who was the last person you had a deep conversation with?
Where's the weirdest place you changed your clothes at?
In the back seat of my moms car for dance lol
Are you going anywhere this summer?
no lol I didn’t go anywhere at all that’s out of Missouri
Are you waiting for anyone's call right now?
Are you shy?
Are you talkative?
Do you secretly like someone?
no not really
Are you good at hiding your feelings?
NO! I wear my emotions so bad…It sucks!
How is life going for you at this moment?
Very confusing. I am at a crossroads in my life…
Do you trust people easily?
I think so…but I have been hurt by trusting too easily so I need to change that.
Do you give out second chances easily?
ya way too easily
Do you smile a lot?
it depends. If I’m with Kat I do, and if I’m with any of the many kids I babysit I smile all the time. They are so much fun
One thing you're looking forward to?
having my own apartment this year
How do you feel about change?
I hate it almost as much as I hate drama
Last time you got a text message and smiled?
I don’t remember
Are you happy?
overall…not really but I am sometimes depending on who I am with and what I am doing.
Have you ever regretted letting someone go?
no…maybe at the time but not looking back now.
Do you prefer to be around people, or by yourself?
either by myself or around kids
When was the last time you told a guy you love them?
I told my Grandpa and Grandma I loved them today when they came by my garage sale
Who's your favorite super hero?
What's your favorite clothing item?
my black shorts that say dancer on the butt. I never wear them out anywhere but I practically live in them when I am at home
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
So while packing for school I have had to think about stuff I will need for a whole apartment versus a dorm room like I am used to. Its so weird to think about all the things I need now that I didn't need before and I didn't think I would ever need them either. Like all the stuff to cook with, stuff to decorate the bathroom, furniture for the living room, a dining table, a coffee table, a TV stand, and all that stuff! It might sound weird to hear me say all this if you have not experienced it yet but trust me its so crazy to think about and plan! I dont know where in the world I am going to come up with the money to buy the furniture pieces and things I will need. My mom and I are having a huge garage sale this weekend though so hopefully I will make a lot of money because I have tons of stuff I am selling. Well I guess I better go to bed...my mom told me she is waking me up at 8am to help her price all our stuff...I'm sooo thrilled about it I can hardly stand it...night everyone :)
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
1) Samantha Lillian Parkington
· When: August 28th 1999
· Where: My house in Wellington
· Why: My 10th birthday
· From: My Grandma Shirley
· Special Memory: My Grandma brought in a box that was the shape of the American Girl boxes and I opened her first and it was the cabbage patch doll she kept at her house for my cousins and I to play with. I screamed and said where is she?!?! So I went with her out to her car and she brought out the real Samantha doll from her trunk. I was so excited I was barely back in the door of the house before she was opened.
2) Kit Marie Kittredge
· When: Late August 2000
· Where: In my mom’s car outside the post office
· Why: My early 11th birthday/first day of school present
· From: My mom
· Special Memory: My mom was taking me to my first day of school and we stopped by the post office before she took me. She came out with a box and told me to open it. I was so excited because I had been raving about Kit since her release earlier that year. I was allowed to bring her in to my class and keep her with me all day and use her as my show and tell. I remember bringing her out to recess and just sitting on a swing with her and all the girls in my class came around me asking if they could hold her but I wouldn’t let them.
3) Lindsey Mariah Bergman
· When: Late August 2001
· Where: My house in Blue Springs
· Why: My 12th Birthday
· From: Myself. I used my birthday money to buy her.
· Special Memory: I was so excited for Lindsey because she looked exactly like me and had a really cool name. I just had to have her and I was so excited when she arrived.
4) Alyssa Renee Johnson #3
· When: August 28th 2002
· Where: Out town house in Blue Springs
· Why: My 13th Birthday
· From: My Grandma Shirley
· Special Memory: I opened Alyssa the second she got to my house. My Grandma ordered her with out telling me and had her sent to my house. I got her and by this time I knew what the boxes were shaped like. I opened her in the hallway about 3 feet away from the front door because I was so excited to get her.
5) Marisol Luna (Deziree)
· When: The beginning of July 2005
· Where: The American Girl Place in New York City
· Why: Because she was a dancer and I was in New York for a dance competition
· From: I bought her with my money
· Special Memory: I remember going into the American Girl Place with my dance teacher Mrs. Bonnie, her daughter Alexis, (7) and her niece Hannah (8) who both dance as well. We went there for Alexis to pick out a doll for her and her little sister Ariannah. In the end Mrs. Bonnie and Alexis picked out their two dolls, Hannah got a doll, I got a doll, and we all got some outfits. We were only in there for a short time because we had to get back for the dance competition. After we got back to the hotel we all went up to Hannah and I’s room and played with our new dolls. A few girls my age saw me walk in the hotel with a bit American Girl Place bag and I was a little embarrassed but I was so excited to get her and play with her with the little girls I was with.
6) Regan Elizabeth #22
· When: December 25th 2005
· Where: My dads house
· Why: Christmas
· From: My dad
· Special Memory: Regan was the first doll my dad bought me himself and it was really special to get one from him.
7) Hayden Paige #25
· When: December 25th 2006
· Where: My dads house
· Why: Christmas
· From: My dad
· Special Memory: I was really excited for Hayden because she was my first doll with black straight hair and that is how my hair is so she because my new look-a-like doll.
8) Josefina Montoya (Leah)
· When: Sometime during 2007
· Where: The Brass Armadillo
· Why: Because we found her cheap
· From: My dad paid for her
· Special Memory: When I saw Josefina and Molly sitting in the booth at the Brass Armadillo I was so ecstatic. I had finally found a doll at an Antique store. We had been looking for years at this point. Her hair was kind of messy but that didn’t bother me because I knew I could fix it. She was only $60 dollars.
9) Nicki Flemming (Blake)
· When: December 25th 2007
· Where: My dads house
· Why: Christmas
· From: My dad
· Special Memory: She was my first doll with really curly hair and I was really excited to get her and some other things for Christmas that year.
10) Mia St.Clair
· When: August 28th 2008
· Where: My dads house
· Why: My 19th Birthday
· From: My dad
· Special Memory: I opened her right before I left for college my sophomore year and brought her to school with me. She was also my first red head and I had wanted a red head for quite some time so I was really excited to get her.