Interview with Chef Gina...behind the brand..
1) What is your full name? Gina Marie King
2) In addition to sculpting fun food, are you also a chef or a foodie in real life? Do you have a passion for real cuisine or just faux food?
I have an Associate’s Degree in Applied business with a major in Culinary Arts. My specialty was high volume cooking for up to thirty thousand. I have worked in the food industry for 13 years.
3) Your website says you've been Chef Gina since 1999. Where is your real store or gallery located? How long have you been on the Web? Has it always been concurrent
Chef Gina’s originally started on Ebay in 1999. When our business started to grow we eventually started our own website www.chefginas.com. We have always been strictly online sales with no break in service. Since Chef Gina’s is a home based business, we are open by appointment only.
4) Did you begin as a dollhouse sculptor of food and accessories? Then you moved on to fashioning these accessories for fashion dolls and larger? How did the notion of making food for the bigger dolls occur to you? Why do you think it has caught on with adult collectors?
No, I have never been a dollhouse sculptor. Chef Gina’s started as food for fashion dolls. The notion for making larger doll food came when we had a lot of requests for 16in dolls food items, then it grew to 18in, 24in and life size. Chef Gina’s has 6 different scales that fit 11.5in, 12in, 16in, 18in, 24 in and life size dolls. I think it caught on with adult collectors because we love to play out our alter ego, reminisce about our child hood and just escape from our busy lives.
5) Are you a doll collector yourself? If so, for how long? And what kind of dolls do you collect? (How many do you think you own?)
I am a doll collector; I’ve been collecting since I was a child and have only 140 dolls. My dolls range from Vintage, Kelly’s, Barbie, GI Joe, My Scene, Bratz, Gene, Tonner and American Girl. Most of my dolls are out of the box; this is because I use them for displays. Most people don’t know I am a big collector of fashion doll structures. My most prize possession are my vintage Barbie’s of Ken, Alan, Midge and Skipper passed down from my mom, my signed Bob Mackie 45th Anniversary doll, vintage Sindy dresser bed table still in original box along with my Heart Family swing set. A lot of my dolls are autographed by the designer.
6) Are you married or have a significant other in your life? Is your spouse or life partner involved in the business? Do you have children?
I have been married since 2009 to my husband Kelly! He does help out when needed. We don’t have children, except 2 German Shepard’s named Vlad & Ezra and a cat named Bubba!
7) Is Chef Gina a sole operation, or is there someone else involved in the business?
Chef Gina’s is an LLC. Including myself there are four people behind the brand.
James – who is also my brother, he is the set and design manager. He can design and build anything! A lot of his work has appeared in magazines over the years.
Peggy – who is my mom, you will usually see her at conventions and doll shows. The idea behind making doll food was my mom’s idea. In 1999 I was laid off from a job and my mom said, Gina, I always wanted play food for my Barbie’s. Why don’t you make food for Barbie and try selling it on eBay? I said, Mom! That’s stupid! Barbie doesn’t even eat! Who’s going to buy that? That Easter my mom gave me an Easter basket full of clay. We worked hours through the night cooking up scrumptious food! And yes, my mom still gives me Easter Baskets.
Kelly- my husband, he does behind the scene work.
8) How would you describe the Chef Gina business? Is it just food for dolls or is it something much more? A lifestyle source for larger dolls? A food and furnishing place? How would you explain it to someone who is not familiar?
Chef Gina’s is a global brand. We make and sell realistic play food for fashion and larger size dolls as well as life size. At this time our brand can be found in three stores. Other than providing collectors with accessories for their dioramas, our fake food influences the creativity of young minds of children. It can expand their mindset of introducing new foods to picky eaters. Our sliced pies are perfect for learning fractions! The majority of our customers are adults who make dioramas for military displays and fashion doll lovers.
9) Where were you born? When were you born? Where did you grow up? Where do you currently live?
I was born in Garfield Hts, Ohio in 1975. I originally grew up in Brecksville, Ohio. I currently reside in in North Ridgeville, Ohio.
10) Your site has sections for kids and for adults. What is the distinction between the two? Do you sell different things for children than for the adult collectors? Do the children play with the food (serve it to their dolls) while the adults use them as props for displays?
The sections for kids and adult are for the Chef Gina’s Fan Club members. Kids club is $10.00, Adults is $20.00. Fan club offers food tutorials, Coupons, Specials gifts sent and recipes! The kids section is a safe place for kids to come to chat and play games, not to mention that there are fun edible food recipes. The adult section has hard to find recipes, tutorials and chats. The children do play with the food serving it to their dolls. Adult’s use them as props for displays? Do we really use them as props..I guess we do, but..we still play with our dolls. Who doesn’t?!
11) How do you decide what food to create? Is it all from your imagination or thoughts, or do you get suggestions from collectors?
I create food from past experience in the restaurant industry. I also use suggestions from collectors. Believe it or not I also look at Trends in the fashion world. I’m very big into fashion, the best way I can explain how I can create a piece by looking at a piece of clothing or shoes is… I think.. what type of person would be wearing those shoes? Or carrying that bag? Then.. What type of food would that person eat? It’s just some way how my brain works then a food idea will pop into my head. My best ideas come in the middle of the night.
12) How many pieces of food do you make per day or per week or per month for the collectors? What is your output?
Chef Gina’s is at the point where we have a large stock of items. We have over 650 different pieces designs. There will be times if an item is out, it would get remade. We also do special orders.
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