Wee Peeple Doll Constructions celebrates 30 years at Texas Renaissance Festival
If you ever take a moment to wander the lanes and explore the quieter shoppes that TRF has to offer, you might have strolled into Wee Peeple, a charming little cottage near the Odeon Stage.For more than 35 years, Kandra Niagra, owner and operator of Wee Peeple Doll Constructions, has hand-crafted one-of-a-kind art dolls, known as Wee Peeple. What started out as a hobby has transformed over the years into a thriving business that continues to gain popularity.
“I began making dolls in college as a way to express myself,” Niagra says. “A little later down the road, it was suggested to me that I should start selling my hand-crafted dolls to the public.”
Each doll is completely handmade from beginning to end. Each nose is hand-sewn and each face is hand-painted with acrylic paint. A 5/16-inch dowel is attached to a wooden stand and runs down from the head of each doll to ensure the doll is freestanding and sturdy. The dolls are then stuffed with polyester fiber and draped with various fabrics and synthetic hair.
Niagra displayed her dolls for the first time at a show at Galvez Mall in Galveston, Texas, in 1980 where she sold a total of 32 dolls. Three years later in 1983, Niagra began her run at the Texas Renaissance Festival after receiving a nod of approval from the King himself.
“My favorite part about being a merchant at the Texas Renaissance Festival is being able to get immediate feedback from my customers,” Niagra says. “My most popular items in recent years have been my clothespin fairies, each one handmade and unique just like my other dolls.”
We think it’s magical to wander the courtyard at Wee Peeple, it’s full of trees and shade and delightful doll surprises!
While Niagra enjoys the new customers that come to explore her artwork, she says she has a large number of returning customers as well. She has a column on her sales page for returning customers and has found that she can have up to a 90 percent return rate. She also has more than 1,200 subscribers to her monthly newsletter.
“I like to keep in touch with my customers,” Niagra says. “They can see what I am doing in my everyday life and will come in and request something they may have seen in my monthly newsletter.”
Since 1980, Niagra has created over 10,000 soft scripture dolls, each one being completely individual and different from the others. She wants her dolls to be able to help people, and once they do that, she believes their destiny has been fulfilled.
Niagra has a Facebook page, “Wee Peeple Doll Constructions” to update her customers on the latest news coming from her “little Doll Shoppe”: