Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together.” —Elizabeth Taylor

Farewell’ is a funny word that invokes so many different emotions. No, this isn’t the end of Tommydoll or my blog – but I will be on an indefinite break as I transition to the North and to my new career. It’s been an interesting circle the last 15 years, and one that almost seems to be scheduled – for the timing is uncanny.

The best of times

The best of times…

In October of 2000, I left my first career to join the staff of a small doll company in New York’s Hudson Valley – perhaps you’ve heard of it – Tonner Doll Company. The choice to leave my career and friends in Washington, DC was mine. It was ten years of dolly bliss, creativity, friendship, conflicting ideas, and personal challenge.

“Dressing well is a form of good manners.”Tom Ford

What happened after that I wouldn’t wish upon my own worst enemy. The fallout wasn’t the fault of Tonner, it was merely the result of my poor life planning, and not being prepared that I could lose my job to a ‘business decision’. That was five years ago – almost to the day (November 10, 2010). Very few will understand the profound effect this has had on me. I’ve had five years to ‘get over it’, and yet – it still stings. Some people just feel more strongly than others. And quite frankly, I’m getting a little tired of people trying to advise me to ‘let it go’. No one understands this concept more than me – it’s my own little drama, and I’ll act in it.


A relationship is like couture—if it doesn’t fit perfectly, it’s a disaster.” —Carrie Bradshaw

Be that as it may, I am finding a more peaceful ground. You see, struggling financially for five years relays a constant reminder of what your life has become – not just by the catalyst of a business decision and those who made it, but also inward as you punish yourself for creating the situation that followed through unfortunate decisions where I can blame no one but myself for the consequences. Anger is addictive – you see it everywhere on faceless social media – and once you have grown too tired to beat yourself up anymore – you either succumb, or you ascend. I chose to ascend.

“I loathe narcissism, but I approve of vanity.”Diana Vreeland

Sewing has always been therapeutic for me, and dolls have always filled my dreams with playful ideas of characters, stories and remarkable clothing. Despite losing my vast doll collection, I was able to make peace with my sewing machine and perchance to dream once again. Oh yes, I can hear the critics rolling their eyes over the melodramatics – so to you I cast a simple, ‘fuck you.’ You will never be able to do what I do. Yeah, that’s a little ‘Miranda Priestly – but it’s warranted. I have over 20 years of solid doll world accomplishments in print, notoriety and awards. I’m me – I certainly don’t have to explain it to anyone…be gone before someone throws a house on you, too.


In these last five years, I’ve struggled, screamed and dreamed with others. Some took advantage of me – some tried to help, and some succeeded in bringing back my sense of purpose along with a strong confidence to make it happen. For those that gave me a chance to make something wonderful happen, I thank you. To those that supported me through all my drama because you truly accept me as I am with all my frippery, wonder, whining and wine – I applaud you. And to those that just want to be a be a part of that world – be careful what you wish for…


I refuse to apologize for who I am. After all, we’ve all done less-than-savory things we later regret. There is nothing wrong with regret as long as we choose to not dwell on it. I am thankful so many hold me and my work in high esteem. Therefore, I embrace what the future holds – though it’s kinda writing itself. I’m not going away, and one thing you will discover after wounded animals heal, they become even more formidable with knowledge and strength. Toss in a very strong salary, and God help you all, Puddings.

“The best things in life are free. The second best are very expensive.”Coco Chanel

If you make a decision to purchase one of my available designs, please have patience while I get relocated. And by all means, please use this time wisely to catch up on past posts that will bring you enlightenment and laughter, mixed with just a tad of pain and drama. No one does what I do, and no one ever will. If you think that’s an egotistic statement to say, you’re absolutely right – so…what’s your point? It’s not bragging if you can do it…right?

Methinks he doth protest too much.

Methinks he doth protest too much.

As I stood near a metal garbage can out in the sticks of Northwest Florida burning the last reminders of my failed life in the Hudson Valley (I don’t have a shredder – sorry for the carbon foot print I left behind) – the shadows of it still haunting my sleep (I’m not kidding about that – I still have dreams that I am still working at Tonner, knowing that I have already been laid off – what the fuck does that mean?) – I stir the embers and mutter to myself, ‘ashes to ashes – dust to dust’. This is what I am listening to on my headset (specifically at about 1:50). Poignant perhaps – silly at times – but my life has always taken significant turns here and there to advance me to the next stage, where a future stills looms uncertain. I will look upon these last five years as perhaps the most troubling and edifying of my life – where you learn who your friends really are, and perhaps the most profound lessonthat none of us are immune from tragedy. Stuff may be just stuff – and there used to be a solid reason why I never threw anything away. Nevertheless, the memories are all in my head now – though the ‘stuff’ is gone. I hope none of you ever have to experience this type of lesson – even if some of you might deserve it for how you treat yourself, and those around you.

That's all.

That’s all.

I’ll see you online soon after I get settled, and please feel free to comment and write as I make the move back to a real job…one that has former friends and supervisors who worked hard for years to get me back. If that isn’t a vote of confidence, I don’t know what is.

Tell me...

Tell me…

Thank you for being there – and for making Tommydoll so widely read. You can only reward that type of loyalty by continuing to offer more, and a sincere ‘thank you’. I do hope you will always remember to always glow brightly – your light keeps others going – people like me.


“People will stare. Make it worth their while.”Harry Winston

34 Comments on “Tommydoll Moves North…Really.

  1. Tom, all I can say is thank you for your amazing blog. You and your talent blow me away and I wish you all the best! Looking forward to new posts in the future once you get settled. 🙂

  2. This is great news, I wish you all the best with your new challenges, and a smooth move. I learn so much from your blog, and your humour always makes me laugh. Hope to see you blogging again once you are settled in your new home and job! ❤

  3. I love you, Tom. Travel well, arrive safe and always continue to shine, you can’t help doing that because of the amazing person you are. X

  4. Might be stressful, but a good kind of stress and it’s going to be amazing – new friends, new places to explore, a new job, you will blossom. Jeesh, 2010 must have been the season of the witch, my best friend died that year, can’t say it’s a year I’d like to remember either. However, how shallow would we be if we ‘got over’ the things in life that give us our greatest joys and deepest pain? I’m sure the future is for you is going to be fabulous darling.

  5. This is the year better things happened for me too. What a long drought for both of us but you created. I am in awe of your talent Tommy. So happy for you. Glow baby Glow!

  6. Tommy, Tommy, Tommy…..my first (very selfish) thoughts were….now that we’ve fallen in love with you, how could you just up and leave!!!!! I haven’t even had the chance to meet you at some fab doll fair yet. (Not that I know when that’s likely to happen–but I can dream.) But seriously…I wish you all the best in your new life wherever it takes you (even though you didn’t say what the new career was–oh the mystery of it all). I’m happy for you, still. But please come back from time to time just to say “cou cou.” Gros Bisous, mon cher. A Bientot.

  7. Thank you for being so open and truthful. Don’t you dare apologize for being YOU, ever. I love reading your stuff and learning about your adventures. I want you to be happy. If I ever met you in person, I’d hope I could give you a big hug, look into your eyes, and have you feel that I want your success and fulfillment. I know we’ve never met, but when I start being interested in someone and who they are and what they do, that’s how I feel toward them. Dammit, you go out there and be happy and make money…

    And then get back to this blog, or you’re toast, Mister.

    I’ve been through some dreadful financial reversals myself and I’m rebuilding now, and God help me, at 56, I’ve got an amazing new man to do it with (who lives in my building—we met over rescuing a feral parking lot cat), and it’s like I’m ready to start again and get my career restarted and stop living on freelance crumbs. I’m tired of living like a financial outlaw and need medical insurance and a steady cash flow again. I may be a copyeditor, but I can’t live on words alone…

    I’m imagining not having to save up for an oil change on the car…and little quality-of-life things like that. Going to the dentist regularly again? What a concept!

    So, Mr. Courtney, go forth and be wonderful, according to your own spec, and keep us posted as much as you can. Blogs can be very healing for some folks, and yours has done lovely things for many of us…including you, I suspect.

  8. Tom! Thank you so much for telling your fabulous, honest, gut-wrenching, emotional story. I can’t imagine the devastation you faced, and I hope you never have to feel that way again. Here’s to the next chapter! I love your blog, and hope to see more soon–your insight (and fabulous design work) has been both educational and inspiring. On a more personal note–it was a pleasure meeting you at the IT convention, and your generosity of spirit (and fabulosity) left quite an impression–I’ll never forget the kindness you showed me, as well as the sage advice. I hope I get to see you again next year!

    • Thank you so much, Jason! I share a mutual awe of your talent…and love seeing the directions you’re headed! Thank you again…I hope our paths connect again, soon!!!

  9. Hope your move goes smoothly and all the best!
    Thank you for blogging, yours is always a nice read. I love your blogging style, very straightforward and honest talk, yet never aggressive. Though I also ‘hate’ you and your blog, because my first 16″ Tulabelle just came home to me and I wouldn’t know she existed without seeing your awesome photos 😀

  10. I know I’m just a stranger and stumbled upon this site, or is it blog? Anyway, this is an opportunity to tell you that I’m SO FLOORED over your breathtaking evening gown on the brunette Tyler doll. The gown has a red beaded 3/4 length sleeves and golden skirt. I loved the photographic steps you took for that. True excitement!

    • Thank you…that was a commission for a client in England – Le Phenix – lots of work, but what a great result for a great model!

  11. Tom, I just love reading your blog. You are so clever and know how to make a person smile.
    That, my friend, is talent.

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