[KHTS] – A Santa Clarita mom and former girl scout leader has created her own business by hand-making and selling earth-friendly American Girl doll clothing.
Char Nathanson, 55, who has been sewing since she was 10 years old, founded American Planet in April of this year.
“American Girl clothes are expensive,” she said. “I was researching Etsy and found that there weren’t any doll clothes that were eco-friendly, either. Instead of buying new fabrics from a store, I look for things gently worn from thrift stores or remnants from fabric stores.”
Nathanson was taught by her grandmother and while taking asewing class in junior high, she got her own sewing machine. She has sewed Halloween costumes for her daughter and sons as well as sewing her own wedding dress and eventually her daughter’s.
“I made clothes for my daughter and her friend’s American Girl dolls out of clothes they had outgrown,” Nathanson said.
Nathanson was a volunteer for the Girl Scouts of America for 25 years and her daughter went through the program as well.
Once Nathanson’s children were grown and her daughter no longer needed American Girl doll clothes, she wanted to find something else that she could do that was creative.
“I was an empty nester,” she said. “I wanted to do something unique.”
Along with having more time now that her children had grown up, Nathanson was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2010.
Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues, according to Mayo Clinic.
“It’s hard to have a job (with fibromyalgia),” Nathanson said. “Some days you’re really healthy and some days you’re wiped out. I wanted to find something where I could use my imagination and skill but still be flexible enough to manage my own hours.”
So Nathanson decided to open up her own business selling American Girl doll clothes made from clothes found at thrift shops, flea markets and remnant bins at fabric stores.
“I look for things with nice labels and like to use quality fabric that you can see held well,” Nathanson said. “I like to use interesting patterns and fabrics instead of getting new fabric from fabric stores.”
She said that she wants the clothes to look like real clothes, not doll clothes and works with Pixie Faire, a doll fabric company for special designs.
Nathanson set up a website, Facebook page, an account on Etsy and got a logo designed in time to open her shop on April 1 of this year.
She donates part of her sales income every month to an organization of her choice. Some includeAction Family Foundation, the American Cancer Society and others.
This month, she is donating to Captain Spectrum, an autistic boy turned superhero who leads the fight in anti-bullying in Tennessee. Next month, she plans to donate to the SCV Food Pantry.
“I put out one outfit specifically for Captain Spectrum’s cause,” Nathanson said. “100 percent donations are going to his cause.
“I was touched by the bullying issue,” she said. “When I was younger, my family didn’t have a lot of money. In the movie Pretty in Pink, she takes different outfits and makes her own but is made fun of by girls who bought their clothes from a department store, that was me. I was unique and in the long run, it was a blessing to have this skill and opportunity to make things for myself that no one else had.”
Since April, the American Planet Etsy page has had more than 8,000 views, 555 individual clothes favorites and 112 shop favorites.
The clothes are offered in full outfits as well as individual jeans and Trendy T t-shirts.
For more information about American Planet, check out the Facebook page, Etsy shop and website.