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Citizen Kern - Lynn Cartwright


Personal Stats:

Name: Lynn Cartwright

Age: 68

Birthplace: Minnesota

Title: Fashion Designer, Doll Maker

How she got started: Cartwright left her hometown at 19 and headed west to pursue a career in design. Her love of dressing paper dolls as a child would ultimately transfer over to her career. She attended various trade schools to build her skill set and found herself designing her own line to sell through Skippy of California. Soon after, she would work for Catalina for 10 years, designing swimwear and sportswear. Cartwright would go on to work in the fashion design world for three decades before transitioning into professional doll making where she would have celebrity clients, including Demi Moore.

Career highlights: Working for Nike, Asics, Ocean Pacific, and Russell Sports is something that most people won’t have on their resume. Or having multiple prints patented in the U.S. Copyright Office. Still, nothing can top the feeling of seeing your design on a Wheaties box! While with Asics, Cartwright designed the uniforms for the 1984 and 1988 U.S. Gymnastics teams, including the famous “stars and stripes” leotard worn by Mary Lou Retton!

Her heroes: Given the fact that her foray into doll making was aided by taking sculpting lessons from Anthony Bulone, the man who created the original sculpture for Barbie, one might think Cartwright’s biggest influencers are people in the industry. Not so. Her father and grandmother make the top of the list. “The design industry is about creativity—you don’t learn that from someone else.”

Her favorite part of the industry: Cartwright has been all over the world thanks to her affiliations with national clothing companies like Cherokee. “The travel was definitely a perk,” she said. She spent time in Asia and Europe, learning about different cultures (knowledge that would serve her well as a doll maker). While she was traveling the globe, her creative designs were appearing in major magazines like Glamour, GQ, and Sports Illustrated.

What she’d still like to accomplish: “I would love to show my dolls in a gallery some day,” Cartwright said with a smile. That’s something that should be easy to accomplish knowing that her collectors are so devoted and that in the 10 years she’s been making dolls, she has received five Doll of the Year awards from Doll Reader Magazine among many other awards. Given that it takes months to hand-craft one of her dolls out of clay, that’s sayin’ something.

Article appeared in our 28-5 Issue - December 2011