A couple of months ago I received a LTF doll body from a split order. I could not believe how it was sent to me! I posted a video of my experience and response – there’s also a really cute dolly at the end! 😆
After moving to Florida, I knew I wanted to meet people who were active in the hobby that could share in my obsession. We previously explored how to meet people in the hobby, and meetups are a fantastic option to meet new people or get to know those you’ve met online!
While some of this information may seem quite basic to some, others have expressed confusion about what meetups are and how, exactly, they are organized. This is my attempt to help clarify what meetups are, who they’re for, and how they’re run.
1. What are meetups?
Meetups are get-togethers for people who have similar interests – in this case, BJD. They can be large or small, in public or private, indoors or outdoors, and organized or not.
2. Who are they for?
Meetups are for anyone! They are perfect for newcomers to the hobby to learn about a variety of companies, sizes, styles, etc. They are also perfect for those new to the area who want to meet others with similar interests. And they are a lot of fun for those who have been in the hobby for a while and love to hang out with friends who share their excitement.
If you’re shy, there are small meetups that can be less overwhelming. There will be a smaller variety to see, but sometimes it can be easier to talk to people.
If you’re more outgoing, or really want to see a larger variety, it may be beneficial to find a larger meet up in your area.
Sometimes we don’t have a choice on the size of a meetup, and that’s ok! Don’t be shy!
3. How are they run?
Meetups can be as organized as 1 or 2 people saying “Hey! I’m/we’re getting together at this place (a library, for example) at this time (say, 3 pm) – come and hang out! We’ll be there for at least 2 hours!”
They can also be incredibly detailed with their organization. The Chicago area group (ChitownDollz) generally has 2 meetups per year that are completely organized. They are large meetups (close to 100 attendees) at a rented facility (they rent a hall) with a small entrance fee ($15, I believe, which INCLUDES food and beverages!). There are areas set up for sales items, places to display dolls, freebie tables, photography backdrops and dioramas, and tables and chairs to visit with friends.
Meetups can also be organized at conventions that may have attendees who are BJD fans. These are usually not convention-sponsored meetups (although this can vary!), and may just consist of BJD collectors attending the event sitting around and getting to know each other as both BJD fans and (insert fandom here) fans. Some con-goers try to create a BJD panel so there is a designated time/place for BJD fans to get together at the convention where dolls and owners are not in anyone’s way (or in danger of being stepped on).
There are so many different ways that meetups can be run, it’s so hard to highlight them all! I’ll explore a few different types of meetups in the next post.
Even if you are new to a group, don’t be shy about talking to people and introducing yourself! I know it can be intimidating trying to talk to people who seem to know each other really well, but, in my experience, collectors are always happy to include new folks.
Since my husband and I have (yet again) moved to a new area, I thought this might be a good time to create a series that looks at how to meet people in the BJD hobby, attending meetups, types of meetups, and how to plan successful get-togethers.
The last time we moved (2.5 years ago), we were moving away from all of our friends and his entire family in Chicago to be near my family in Minnesota. We knew a few people, but none who shared our enthusiasm for our various hobbies.
I had previously been introduced to the MN BJD community through a variety of sources (online forums/Facebook, conventions, etc.) so it was pretty easy to reinsert myself into the online community and get to know people that way. But because most meetups were over an hour away, it was harder to get together in person.
This time, however, we didn’t know anybody! (To be perfectly honest, we have lived in Florida for about 4 months, and we still don’t know a whole lot of people… but I digress. 😉 )
So how did I meet people who share my love of BJDs over the years? I looked online, attended meetups, and found other collectors at conventions.
When we initially learned we were moving to Florida, my first search was for Florida BJD groups on Facebook. There was 1 in the Orlando area where we were moving to, and a few others spread throughout the state. I got lucky!
I was able to join a location-specific BJD group and interact through Facebook before meeting anyone in person.
If there weren’t any location-specific groups, my next attempt would have been to scour both the Den of Angels meetup section as well as other Facebook groups (BJD Addicts, Still plays with dolls: A BJD group, Fairyland BJD Loves All, etc.) to see if there were any users in my area and/or if there had been any meetups near my new location recently.
Sometimes, in more remote places, making friends online is the easiest way to share your interests with others. If you don’t live in a populated area and are unable to travel, this may be the best option.
However, if you’re able to travel a bit and/or live in a city, chances are good there are others near you who share your passion.
After finding a fairly active group of people online, I was able to attend a meetup organized by another member. While it can be nerve-wracking, it’s definitely worth it! To be honest, I was more nervous about attending my first meetup in a new state than I was when starting a new job! Not sure you can face it alone? Bring a friend! My husband would have gone if I had asked him to.
Most of the time, meetups are held in a public location. The first meetup I attended here in Florida was at an IHOP. The first one I attended in the Chicago area (in 2006!) was at Mitsuwa, a Japanese marketplace.
Meetups can be anywhere, though – inside, outside, private residence, or public place. Not sure you’re comfortable going to a private residence or an outdoor meet? It’s OK to suggest a location or request an indoor public place for the next meetup.
I’ll go over some potential meetup locations in another post. 🙂
When I originally started getting interested in BJDs, before I had found an online community, I was able to connect with other collectors at anime conventions.
It has been my experience that BJD collectors have a wide variety of interests, and chances are good you will see a BJD at any number of conventions (just go check out Artist Alley – BJDs can be frequently seen guarding goods at the tables). It is also likely there will be unofficial meetups you can attend while there, but if not (or you can’t find them), don’t worry! Most collectors are happy to talk about their dolls – especially if there is a secondary fandom crossover!
I have honestly found that meeting people online first is the easiest way to get to know others in the area who share your enthusiasm. From there, it’s a lot easier to meet folks in person. With Facebook groups and other localized forums, it’s not too hard to find people in your area.
So don’t be shy! Get out there and introduce yourself! 🙂
Are you a fan of BJDs but stuck admiring from afar?
If you have time to invest, I’ve come up with 10 ways to make money to help you afford the BJD hobby. I’m not saying they’re all fun, some can be downright boring, but money is money. 🙂
1. Get a Part-Time Job
Part time jobs can be no fun, but they can most certainly provide steady employment that adds up over time. If you are in school, part-time hours are perfect for after school and weekends. If you work full-time, adding a part-time job is a great way to make supplemental income.
2. Babysit / Dog Sit / Dog Walk
With summer here, parents are looking for daytime help to watch kids and/or pets. If you’re free during the day, or willing to give up evenings and weekends, parents are willing to pay.
Responsible babysitters are in high demand, and parents are struggling to find trusted sitters for their kids. And if you have any special certifications (CPR, First-Aid, etc.), they’re generally willing to pay a little bit more.
Summer is also a time when a lot of people take vacations, which means pets are generally left behind. Some would rather pay to have their fur-babies walked, fed, and played with at home than pay for kennel boarding.
3. Yard Work
Speaking of summer vacations – that’s also a great time to offer yard work services!
There are plenty of people who would rather pay someone else to do yard work for them than give up a full day doing it themselves.
4. Sell Unused Items
We all have ‘things’ we haven’t used in the past year. And if we haven’t used them in the past year, it could be time to let them go, don’t you think?
Facebook garage sale pages, Craigslist, pawn shops, consignment shops, garage sales – these are all fantastic ways to get rid of items while turning them into a bit of cash.
5. Start an Online Business
Do you have a special talent?
If you make physical goods (jewelry, soap, candles, plushies, etc.), Etsy, Amazon, and eBay are great places to sell items you’ve made.
If you would rather offer a service like web-site design (hey! I do that, too!), character illustrations, face-up commissions, etc., Facebook groups and DoA‘s marketplace (for doll-related services) are fantastic places to offer your services.
6. Donate Plasma
Get paid to donate your plasma!
Some facilities will pay up to $260 per month for you to donate your plasma on a weekly basis. There are, of course, guidelines that you have to meet in regards to age, weight, and ID, and please be responsible!
You can find locations near you to donate.
7. Face-Painting or Bake Sale
Craft shows are in full-swing as summer gets going. And most craft shows are happy to have family-friendly activities for kids to help keep them entertained at a relatively low cost.
Summer festivals are also great places to potentially offer these services. Just be sure to contact them first!
There may be a small fee to set up a booth, so keep that in mind when reaching out to shows and festivals in your area.
8. Enter Local Contests
Check out your local community events – chances are there is some sort of event with a cash prize. It could be a recipe competition, dog costume competition, art, poetry, government slogans, and more. Local fairs and festivals are great places to start looking.
9. Collect Deposits
Does your country or state have deposit fees on glass or tin cans?
Return these items for the refund and watch your savings grow! 5 cents doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but it can add up quick. Check with your neighbors and/or pick up litter around town… Many people can’t be bothered to take their recycling in – profit from their laziness!
Do you ever receive money as gifts?If so, set it aside for your next dolly purchase.
Do you have a family OK with the idea of gifting money instead of items? Let them know what you are saving up for! Some family members are more than happy to contribute to something they know you will love rather than play a guessing game of what you might like.
You could even go so far as to set up a Paypal donation page so family and friends can contribute directly to your bank account.
Do you have any additional ways to make money to afford dolls or doll-related items? Let me know – I’d love to hear them!
When I first started in the BJD hobby, I was so excited; so obsessed! I spoke up and out, and I talked about these “omg super amaze-balls dolls!” whenever and wherever I could… to whomever would listen.
Meetups were arranged and attended – more frequently than not (much to my then-boyfriend/now-husband’s dismay). Dolls were brought to work (a coworker was even converted!), the fabric store, and even grocery shopping.
Photos were taken everywhere – outside our apartment, next to a pretty flower outside of work, under the shade of a tree in a shopping center, museums, aquariums, the zoo, stores… you name it, I probably took pictures there.
To be honest, I started the hobby very much in the “Loud & Proud” category.
Looking back on it, I made some amazing friends, and wouldn’t change my hobby’s start for anything. BJDs opened a door to a fun-loving, accepting, diverse community.
But lately I have been moving more and more into the “Quiet Enjoyment” category.
I still talk about dolls with my friends, but my dolls are no longer my profile photos/avatars, I don’t take them out with me just because, and I’m not one to pull them out in public places for photo ops. I DO, however, still enjoy talking about them, sewing for them, and taking quick Instagram snaps here & there.
Having been in the hobby for over 10 years, I am now quite content to collect them for my own enjoyment without forcing my collection on others. I will always love meeting new people in the hobby, but it’s not a ‘must do’ for me anymore.
What about you? Do you tend to quietly enjoy your dolls without telling many people you collect them? Or are you “loud and proud” – sharing your hobby with anyone and everyone who will listen?