17 Sep STORIES OF STARTING EPISODE 9: Mimi B Dolls, Photographer, Instagrammer
In this episode I interview my daughter Mimi B Dolls about her passion for doll photography and her success due to connecting with others on social media and her participation in various communities.
Watch the interview on YouTube:
Heather: Hey guys today we are downtown Montreal at our favourite alleyway. My guest today is my daughter Mimi. So Mimi introduce yourself and tell everybody what you do.
Mimi: Hi, my name is Mimi I am a photographer. I specialized in taking photos of 18 inch dolls. I’ve done photo shoots here downtown Montreal in this alleyway with all the graffiti. I do a lot of stuff on Instagram. I have a whole community of doll photographers on Instagram and that’s where I share all my work. I’ve made friends and contacts there. I’ve done meetups and much more.
Heather: Awesome that’s amazing. There’s a few things I wanted to talk to Mimi about. She’s being interviewed many times before and I’ll link up those interviews below to tell a little bit of the backstory about how she got into the photography. Something I wanted touch on is for many
years she actually had a lot of collections.The dolls was just one of the many collections that she had. Tell us a little bit of about your obsession and your collections of things.
Mimi: As a child I had a lot of collections whether it was dolls or bouncy balls or Peek-a-poohs or Webkinz or you name it. I used to collect all kinds of different things. My main one was probably Beanie Boppers. They were little 11 inch dolls. They were all plushy and whatnot. I had a fascination with them. I used to make up a little school area and teach my dolls. I even used to take photos of them. I used to pose them whether it was a gymnastic pose because gymnastics was my favourite sport and still is. I used to take photos of them so they’d stand or do the splits or you name it. I would take photos of them when I was around eight to ten. When I found out about American Girl that is where it all started.
Heather: That’s so funny a because you were really doing this way before it was a thing on Instagram or anywhere. Before you even had heard about the American Girl dolls.
Heather: I remember you used to position your dolls and get them to balance.
Mimi: I used to really love that stuff. I she remember when
I was in grade 9 my mom was like oh you should go to the park and take photos of your doll. It was a BFC Inc. doll. Her name was Aleisha. I went to the park with my friend and we took photos of this doll in the park. I still have the photos. I was about 15 at the time. I really enjoyed it. It’s funny to see your evolution and how your past actually reflects in your now and your future.
Heather: It’s so true and in those days you had a point-and-shoot. I remember there were settings on the camera. There was a black-and-white setting, a sepia setting and then the regular setting. A lot of those photos you did were in black-and–white and sepia. I actually sold one of your cards with the doll photo at John Abbott College at a craft show to an older couple. They were fascinated with it.
Mimi: It’s so ironic because i’m a part of a camera club and a lot of the members are in their 60s and older. It’s funny you sold a card of a doll to an older man because a lot of people that admire me now are in that age range.
Heather: It’s an art form. It’s more than just Instagram posting now. It really is an art form. You were way ahead of your time which is so cool. We have all of those old photos and we printed some of them big too. That was one of the things on my list to talk to you about was the LCC which is the Lakeshore Camera Club community. Tell me about your involvement with that. You got involved and they put you on the executive and you run their Instagram. Tell me how that went down.
Mimi: I found out through you about the Lakeshore Camera Club. It’s a club on the West Island where we live. I got really involved in this club. They’re all photographers. It’s kind of funny because when I went into the club I was like it would be really great to be friends with these people. When you walk into the club everybody would say hello to you. I remember last year I walked through the aisle of all the chairs and everybody said hello to me. That was my dream when I when I first started the club. I really wanted to be friends with these people. I’m somebody who has always gotten along with older people. I remember I used to go to my friends’ birthday parties and I would end up talking to the parents. It’s funny how things come back. So I got really involved with them. Last year they asked me to do a presentation about what I did doll related. It was Instagram related and photography related and about my community. At that point they’re asked if I could help with their Instagram and put me on the executive team. I think they really just wanted new inspiration and fresh blood basically. They wanted new ideas from somebody who wasn’t in the same age range. They were like you’re another generation and we want this club to continue. We want the younger generation to have input so the club will continue in the future when they’re not doing it anymore. This will be my third year that I’m going. My first year I thought oh this is great I’ve learned so much. There was competitions there was judging. The second year it was the same schedule and I thought it was going to be great. But when I got there I was like oh, it’s the same thing. So I told one of the executive members we should have more interaction, hands-on and more learning about how to do photography. This year I went to go look at the schedule and did they ever take my advice. I was so happy.
Heather: I think I’m gonna go to some of the meetings too because I learn a lot when I go there. You can go as a guest to the meetings too.
Heather: You’ve always been someone that learns quick with these things and and implements. That’s something that I’ve really learned from you. You’ve really inspired me in that way. You get an idea, you go for it, you do it! Like your YouTube channel you went full-on in when you did have a YouTube channel. That inspired me to do YouTube and Instagram. I remember you started doing YouTube videos ten years ago.
Mimi: I started doing YouTube videos in 2008. I was inspired by a American Girl YouTuber. Her name was Stephenswodadancer. I remember I used to watch her and watch her. She used to do hairstyles on her dolls and she did opening videos. I just thought this was the most brilliant thing. I was inspired by her to start doing my YouTube. Over the years it evolved. I didn’t really know what I was doing with it. As of 2014-15 I started amping it up a bit. Then I realized that I really loved the photography and I morphed out of that and went full-on with the photography. I do not have any regrets.
Heather: You had a lot of followers. How many subscribers did you have on YouTube?
Mimi: I had 933 at the end.
Heather: Almost 1000 followers.
Mimi: I was like: it’s done it’s time. I’ve been on here for 10 years. I found another passion that I really connected with. I connected with that YouTuber that I admired by the way. We actually sent her a package and she showed it on her channel. I had a contact in her and I was satisfied with my decision. I had completed that part of my life and wanted to move on.
Heather: That’s a really good lesson in appreciating the experience but knowing when it’s time to move. I had encouraged you a lot to stay on YouTube. You were like: mom, no I’m done. Finally when you did it, it was like a big weight lifted off and you really went full-on into Instagram.
Mimi: I find as soon as I went full on into the Instagram I had all this press that contacted me. All these amazing things had come my way. Once you let go of something that’s been a burden for a while sometimes beautiful things come your way. I had four different press people. I had a few different podcasts. Then Chapters Rideau in Ottawa contacted me to do a doll photography workshop last summer. That was the best thing ever. I couldn’t be more grateful. Then this Mother’s Day we did a mother-daughter–doll photo shoot and made fun frames and I was the official photographer. Those experiences were absolutely fantastic and I couldn’t thank them enough. That was part of letting go of one big thing that you were working on that wasn’t necessarily going the way you had planned or didn’t necessarily resonate with you. When you let go of that other things come your way that really resonate with you
Heather: That’s so cool. Tell us a little bit about the press and how that came about.
Mimi: My mom and I went down to the Old Port of Montreal. It is a beautiful place if you ever come to Montreal. I love that place. There’s this old cobblestone as you might know. But it’s ironic because I brought my doll and my camera down. We were going to take photos and we were going to tweet them to Tourism Montreal. That was our intention. So we went down and the cobblestone was under renovation. They were just scrapping the whole thing. Anyway, we found a spot, minus the cobblestone. The cobblestone honestly didn’t really show up in the photos so it really didn’t matter. Anyways we tweeted them to Tourism Montreal and I received an email from a news reporter.
Heather: They retweeted it because you tagged them.
Mimi: Yes, they retweeted it and after they retweeted it I received an email from a guy in Montreal from Metro News West Island. He was like, oh I would love to do an article about you and interview you. Afterwards he was like, oh you know who would really like your stuff it Kate McKenna from CBC. So he sent me her email. I emailed her as a pitch and she ended up being interested.
Heather: She loved it.
Mimi: She absolutely adored it. She did an article about it. Then a little while later I was sitting at home and I received a an email from a radio station CJAD 800. They ended up interviewing me New Year’s Day on January 1st on live on the radio. That was really cool. Then that night I received another email saying, oh I would love to interview you for City News Montreal. The next day I went home and the City News Montreal people came to my house and did a whole interview. Actually the other two interviews for the internet and for the TV were also at my house. That’s how it rolled.
Heather: It’s so cool the power of one tweet and also daring to do that.
Heather: Just putting it out there. You’ve got nothing to lose. Look what happened from that one tweet. It’s really cool.
Mimi: Yes and there were all kinds of other like people like from Creator HQ who asked if they could do a podcast.
Heather: Yes, you did a podcast with Creator HQ.
Mimi: I had other podcasts. I did one with George Popi before that all happened. I’ve done all kinds of stuff if you want to go check that out we will link it.
Heather: Another thing I wanted to talk about is because Mimi and I do a lot of urban adventures in Montreal. I thought it was super appropriate to do the podcast here in an alleyway because I take my daughter to alleyways to hang out…whatever! We also go to a lot of coffee shops. We go to live comedy and a lot of events. Tell me about the urban adventures and what you get out of them, how you enjoy them.
Mimi: Something you introduced me to was the Comedy Nest. I gotta be honest I went crazy with that. We’ve met so many amazing people. We go there frequently. Actually last night I was there and I’ve gone there so many times the security guards started to introduce themselves. That was interesting!
Heather: You know you go often when…
Mimi: So the urban adventures, I mean right now we are in an alleyway. I’ve done photo shoots in this alleyway. This is one of my favourite alleyways in Montreal. It actually probably is. There used to be this awesome little graffiti over there which was of the little mushrooms. I loved those little mushrooms.
Heather: Yes, they paint over every year because this is actually in the neighbourhood where they do Mural Fest every year. Which is super awesome. Actually that’s the thing I wanted to mention was because we do a lot of traveling. I remember the first time we went to New York we actually met up with our friend Martha Cooper who is a photographer. She actually documents graffiti in photography all over the world. She had republished her book Subway Art. We went we went to see her and she gave us a signed copy of her book. We had a really amazing time. We have a photo of Mimi when, how old were you?
Mimi: It was in 2009 and I was thirteen.
Heather: We have a photo of you and Martha and you holding your doll Emily. This was before you were doing the AG photography. Martha took us on a tour around New York City.
Mimi: I remember at the end she actually said goodbye to my doll because I brought this doll everywhere with me.
Heather: Sweet. I love that.
Mimi: That was an amazing trip. That was my very first trip to New York.
Heather: And probably influenced us to pursue going to the graffiti.
Mimi: For sure.
Heather: I also wanted to talk a little bit about your community on Instagram. It seems we have a lot of communities we’re involved with. Creator HQ, LCC and the big one of course is your AGIG American Girl Instagram, on Instagram obviously. You’ve made a lot of virtual friends on there. You’ve met up with people in person and you became good friends with people from that. Tell me a little bit about, why don’t we start with the meetups.
Mimi: In 2017 I created a tour. We were going to Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto and Ottawa. On Facebook I created five different event pages for this whole tour I was doing. Now reminding you the only people I got were in Vancouver. I met up with a lot of people afterwards in Ottawa, I also had to meet up hosted by a fellow AGIG’er in Toronto that I went to recently. I was in Edmonton sitting in a cafe and I received a message on Facebook saying: I want to want to interview you for the Edmonton Examiner newspaper. I thought to myself this must be spam.
Heather: You thought it was spam.
Mimi: My mom was like, no no no it’s not spam, it’s a news article. Ironically she was three or four blocks away from where we were. So we went up and I had this whole article done about me a week later in the newspaper in Edmonton. Which is absolutely amazing.
Heather: The power of social media. Just from creating a Facebook event page.
Mimi: That was some of the people I’ve met. I’ve met a lot of amazing people in Ottawa as I mentioned. I’ve met a lot of people just online. We met up with a fellow guy in New York City in May and that was such a cool adventure. I became really go
od friends with this fellowAGIG’er.
Heather: You guys did a photo shoot in Times Square.
Mimi: Yes we did.
Heather: I loved that.
Mimi: We actually met up with him again with another friend that last time we went. I’ve made a lot of connections and a good friends on there. A lot of people have I’ve stayed in contact with. I actually was recognized at the Ottawa location. Another AGIG’er came up to me and she was like OMG are you Mimi B Dolls? It was so cool that day because she was there and there were two other girls there and one from Montreal who had purposely come into Ottawa the day I was there. So I met up with her, I met up with this girl who recognized me and another girl who lives in Ottawa. There was this whole meet-up that wasn’t didn’t even planned. I’ve actually done a photo shoot with two out of the three of them. One in Ottawa and one in Montreal. I’m actually planning another one with another AGIG’er coming up soon. We’ve done a lot of graffiti shoots just the two of us.
Heather: I love those collaborations. We went up to the Mont Royal one day with that lady and her and her daughter. I played with her daughter and you did the shoot. I would hold the doll on the edge so she wouldn’t fall down.
Mimi: That was one of the girls from Vancouver who came to Montreal. She hosted another meetup in Toronto.
Heather: Remember that time we were at the cottage. I was reading this novel.It was a biography about this woman who did doll photography in the 50s. The book was called The Lonely Doll. She had a stuffed bear and her dolls and she took pictures of them on the beach.
Mimi: That was years before I got into anyone got into AGIG.
Heather: That was a long time ago.
Mimi: I remember thinking it was really cool. I remember going to get the book in Round Lake Center.
Heather: Because I had read the novel and I was like OMG wouldn’t that be so cool to see this book. This picture book that she had made. I think we were alone for a couple of days in between friends coming to the cottage. We went to Bancroft and there happened to be a second-hand store. Don’t we go in the second-hand store and I said wouldn’t that be great to find the Lonely Doll Book. And of course…
Mimi: We found it! It was insane. I remember going back to the cottage thinking this is insane we actually found it. It’s the cutest little book you’ve ever seen.
Heather: I’m going to put a link. It’s really is cool and totally along the lines of what you’re doing. Taking photos of inanimate objects in an environment. And it totally brings them to life!
Mimi: It brings them to life and it tells a story. That’s something they say in photography. As soon as you can tell the story within your photo that’s a true photograph.
Heather: Those are the ones I love the best of what you do are the ones that really tell a story. My favourite one is the one of the blonde doll. Is it Julie?
Heather: She’s looking over the water in the Pointe Claire Village. You could just you could almost feel her thoughts. She’s looking over the water and and it’s a really nice calm feeling. The lighting is beautiful. I love that one. What are some of your favourite photos of what you’ve done?
Mimi: Currently my favourite photo is of two dolls, one boy and one girl. They have their arms around
each other and they’re looking out into the sunset. It’s a silhouette of the dolls and the sunset glowing in the in the background. That’s probably my favourite one currently.
Heather: That one we just found out it was shared a lot on Instagram:
Mimi: It was shared a lot, oh yeah.
Heather: I didn’t even know you could tell where your photos are shared.
Mimi: I just figured that out today.
Heather: In your “insights”. If you have a business account on Instagram.
Mimi: I always loved the graffiti shots. I loved Mount Royal. There’s been so many I’ve loved.
Heather: Remember that shoot we did over near Leonard Cohen’s house. You were doing a shoot outside this old house. This person walked by and said: is that a real kid?
Mimi: I’ve had some really interesting experiences. I’ve had some creepy ones. I’ve had some interesting ones. I’ve had some cute ones. I had two older ladies come up to me one time in the Pointe Claire Village and they were like: OMG I love what you’re doing and whatnot. I actually ended up giving them my card. They were like: oh, I didn’t want to interrupt you but I just wanted to say I really like it.
Heather: That’s so awesome. They appeal to a lot of people. You even had two pieces in Stewart Hall at the Lakeshore Camera Club show. That was so cool to see them printed large on the wall in a gallery setting. It was really interesting.
Mimi: It was beautiful.
Heather: Do you have any tips or things you’d like to share with people that are interested in photography or dolls or expressing themselves in any way at all.
Mimi: To put yourself out there. Not to really worry about what people think of you. I mean if they’re gonna be rude that’s their problem and that’s who they are. To do what you love. To follow your passions and to go for it because do you have nothing to lose. Be safe, I don’t recommend to randomly message people. Don’t get in conflicts. Ae respectful. If you want to take up photography I suggest taking a few courses. that’s what really helped me to get into it. Find a medium that you love and to find something that you’re passionate about is really important. The community changed me. I love the community. If you can find yourself a community with people who have the same interests or a similar interests and you’re going to do really well because you’re going to support each other. You’re going to bounce off inspiration and you can make friends through that. I’ve made a lot of friends. I’ve made a lot of connections.
Heather: I think that’s the underlying theme of this podcast episode. It’s really all about community and inspiring each other.
Mimi: Absolutely. Yes, and just to go for it and not to have much fear because it doesn’t hurt.
Heather: Mimi tell us where we can find you online and if you have any services to offer just let us know.
Mimi: You can follow me on Instagram if you are interested at MimiB.Dolls on Twitter at MimiBDolls and on Facebook at MimiB.Dolls My website is MimiBDolls.com I do Instagram tutorials if you are interested. I can help you a bit with your camera if you are interested. I’ve been doing photo shoots with several different people. If you ever want to do a photo shoot let me know. If you ever want to collab let me know because I’m definitely open to collaboration. I’ve done several different photo shoots as collaborations in Ottawa and Vancouver in Montreal. I would be happy to go on a shoot with you or to be featured on whatever you want me to be featured on and vice versa.
Heather: That’s fantastic. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast. We’ve been talking about thisfor so long. I told Mimi: we’re going to do it in the alley way. She was like: NO I don’t want to do it in the alley way. I’m going to post all kinds of pictures on the blog of your beautiful work and we’ll see everybody the next time.
Heather and Mimi: Bye