What it takes to be a stuffed toy doctor
Behind-the-scenes: Real-life Doc McStuffins at Stuffed Toys Hospital
If you have been following us for a while now, you should already know that we are constantly getting overwhelmed by orders and are trying our best every day to cope with the constant influx of stuffed toy repairs.
Working late into the night.
Some of you have reached out to us asking if you could give us a helping hand. It's really amazing to know that so many people care and are willing to help us!
But do you really know what it takes to be a stuffed toy doctor?
1. Small and strong hands
Small hands that are barely 6 inches long.
This may come as a surprise, but you definitely need small hands to work with stuffed toys. Small hands make it easier to work with smaller patients; you can also effortlessly reach into every nook and cranny of large stuffed toys when stuffing them!
But those small hands also need to be really strong, especially during cleaning of large and furry stuffed toys, where they can be really heavy when entirely soaked with water!
2. Insensitive skin, being able to embrace wrinkling
Dealing with deep cleaning and re-fluffing of stuffings on a daily basis can do a great deal to your hands.
- Strong chemicals used during cleaning can cause your hands to dry up and feel itchy at times.
- Re-fluffing of stuffings for long periods of time can also make your hands very dry.
You need to know how to take good care of them.
3. Don't mind the dirt and fresh aroma
As a stuffed toy doctor, you will be dealing with a stranger's chou chou. It's a very personal belonging that holds its place in a very personal space (on the owner's bed). With that, it means that the chou chou will also absorb a lot of personal oils, saliva and sometimes, personal hairs get embedded in the stuffings.
Stuffings are originally white in colour, and can become dirty overtime as they absorb dirt.
We have had our own fair share of experience dealing with stuffed toys that carried strong stenches of (what seemed like) sweat smell in the gym. What do we do? Take a deep breath, hold it, and proceed with the repairs. There's a reason why they are called chou chous: what smells like perfume to one, can smell like trash to another.
4. Not afraid of repetitive work
I'm not going to lie: it can be extremely boring and tiring to do the repetitive motion of re-fluffing stuffings and cleaning for hours on end.
But... you just have to do it because it's necessary and part of the process.
5. Know the basics of sewing
It doesn't matter how bad you are at sewing: start somewhere. Show that you are actually interested in sewing and have tried mending / making stuff yourself.
I started sewing from a young age, starting off with sewing buttons back onto my own school uniforms. It is extremely important to be comfortable with handling needles and be able to endure small needle pokes.
Some mending I did for a torn bag from about 5-6 years back - doesn't it look like how some of you mend your stuffed toys? Don't worry, I have clearly been there too.
Understanding how stuffed toys and clothes are made requires a high-level of attention to detail. Every mm counts: wrong measurements can drastically change the shape of the stuffed toy, and can also mean that the parts will not fit together perfectly.
7. Be comfortable with stepping out of your comfort zones
Every stuffed toy that gets admitted is different in their own ways. Be it a different brand, make, or the condition due to the way they are treated.
There is a lot of experimentation going on as every toy is unique, and requires a different method to repair.
Change is literally the only constant, and you need to be comfortable with changes every hour as you work on multiple toys per day.
You will be working on multiple toys at once. We have had instances of dealing with 40-60 stuffed toy repairs in a month per doctor, and we got them done.
Pull late nights if you have to. Get it done.
9. A highly empathetic individual
Whatever the story is behind the stuffed toy, always put yourself in the owner's shoes. Try to understand why and how much it means to them, so that you can better treat their stuffed toy like your own.
Having a high level of awareness is essential to make sure you treat each patient how they need to be treated.
10. Spontaneous and on the ball, always rolling 24/7
You will no longer wake up to "Good morning" messages. The first thing you will see every morning on your phone is a dozen of "Any updates?".
Well, it's only natural. Poor owners have to be away from their favourite stuffed toys for more than a week and sometimes more than a month - of course they will be more than worried.
Reply whenever you can and help ease the worry.
11. Be committed
You don't get good at repairs overnight. A month? You barely know how to sew. A year? You are just getting used to sewing every day. 5 years? You still make basic mistakes.
Stay humble, be committed to what you do. You cannot be bad at something that you do every day.
12. Patience is thus a big, fat virtue
And with all of the above, the biggest thing you need is patience. The patience to assess a stuffed toy and what it needs. The patience to talk to a customer who is not satisfied with your work. The patience to get better at your skill every day.
Practice makes improvement
We were not taught any major skills, a lot of them were acquired through our own meddling, experimentation and most importantly, practice. We have had our own fair share of scoldings received, and it obviously didn't feel amazing, but they are also what helped us grow. While practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes improvement. And we are still improving every day.
So, do you still think you have what it takes to be a stuffed toy doctor?