Handmade String Doll Gang™ Is the Real Thing in a World of Copies

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Sold in Taiwan and Japan by the tens of thousands each month and now banned in China due to the voodoo powers youngsters there think they possess, the characters known as The String Doll Gang™ in the US are creating a frenzy among fans worldwide and a whole crop of copycat dolls to go along with it.

Sold in Taiwan and Japan by the tens of thousands each month and now banned in China due to the voodoo powers youngsters there think they possess, the characters known as The String Doll Gang™ in the US are creating a frenzy among fans worldwide and a whole crop of copycat dolls to go along with it.

Kamibashi Asian Art, the exclusive North American distributor of the String Doll Gang™, found the dolls while on a buying trip in Thailand in the spring of 2005. They immediately contacted Saan_ha, the company founded by the three Thai friends who created them, and struck a deal.

Half a world away, Saan_ha’s Taiwanese distributors set up string doll shops in Taipei and were soon selling 40,000 dolls a month. Their popularity led to the dolls and their creators being featured in Taiwanese newspapers, magazines, and television news shows on a regular basis. "It's an amazing success story," Daniels said, "Three college friends who are all great designers had a unique idea, decided to go for it, and now have 250 of their friends and neighbors working for them."

With their Asian success came the copies, most of which are exact duplicates of the characters that Saan_ha created and for which Kamibashi has filed US copyright applications on their behalf. “We’re spending a lot of time trying to educate US buyers about the situation. If you’ve never seen a Saan_ha string doll character before and the first one you see is a copy then you’ll have no idea that there is really an original,” she said.

Daniels said that string dolls are becoming more and more popular in the US and she expects that the market here will continue to grow for some time. “The String Doll Gang™ characters are being sold at fantastic stores all over the US, and the shops we’ve spoken to who are unknowingly selling fake dolls have been very sympathetic about the situation. We’re finding that the people who this product appeals to want to support the people who invented it,” she said

As for the companies selling the fake dolls, Daniels says that Kamibashi is taking every available option to stop them. “We can’t stop the copies from turning up in other countries, but we can do our best to stop them from being sold illegally here in the U.S,” she said, adding, “It's a cottage industry and a fair trade product and the people who created the whole thing deserve the recognition and the profit from the sale of their characters."

To see what all the excitement is about, visit http://www.kamibashi.com, booth 7-7112 at the Chicago Gift & Home Market July 22-25, booth 846 at the San Francisco International Gift Fair August 5-8, and booth 1133 at the New York International Gift Fair August 13-17. For more information contact Kristen Daniels at 828-683-7994.

About Kamibashi Asian Art and Textiles

Kamibashi is an online retail and wholesale store that specializes in bringing eclectic, contemporary Asian art to the U.S. market. The company was started in 2004 while founder Kristen Daniels and her husband Chris Daniels were living and teaching English at a university in Kyoto, Japan. After retiring from teaching in March of 2005, the pair moved to Asheville, NC and are running Kamibashi full-time.

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Kristen Daniels
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