Alexis was created in 2012 but her story goes back to 2009 when I, Ellen Callen, created two characters – Alexis and Elena to share a world of diversity and love of learning.
Originally, Via E was an online retail store selling over 800 items for 18″ dolls. Alexis and Elena were the characters and models. Mattel, Inc., who owns American Girl, LLC, was quick to have their legal team shoot a warning shot across the bow of the young Via E concept. That was my first lesson of their power. I had sent out a simple email promotion the first week of opening Via E and within days they ordered me to close my doors, stating several legal statutes and scary language. Some of what they were upset about had merit and some was just an effort to push me off the industry map. In the end, I quickly evolved to a place where Via E could move forward without Mattel drowning me in legal battels.
Over the years they (American Girl, LLC.) have “borrowed” concepts from Via E…in the industry it is known as taking inspiration from others which is completely legal. I’ve had my own legal advisors review merits of such activity and have had some experienced industry lawyers tell me I had a case against various violators who became too inspired with my work. When a company takes another company’s concept and makes it their own it is seen as unfair but it is also the American way.
Recently, I was contacted and notified that American Girl, LLC, has created a character and named it Alexis. They have created a line of themed clothing representing different countries around the world and as they have done before, they have used similar hair color and style, eye and skin color as one of our award-winning characters. If this is true, what does that mean? What it means is we are now the inspiration for the largest toy company in the world. Everyone knows Mattel, et al, “borrows” from many industry players so that doesn’t make us special but it does validate our little company.
Should we feel threatened? NO.
Mattel and their American Girl division is loved by many and not so loved by others. Mattel can not be Via E. American Girl cannot be Via E. Only we can be Via E. Our stories, our characters, our designs, our community, our friendship is ours and ours to share.
YES, I am the designer and Via E Inc., is the copyright owner of Alexis Christine O’Shay(TM) Dollfriend(R) and the same is true of Tatiana, Elena, Kewanee, Melina, Mako and Nikan and my inspiration comes directly from YOU.
I do not visit any other doll company sites. I do not research any other dolls to find my inspiration. In fact, I purposely stay away from such activities because I don’t want to dilute the inspiration that is YOU.
So, let’s continue designing new Dollfriends(R) and Brothers Adventures(TM) our own way. If others are inspired, let’s smile knowing our light is burning brighter when others are warmed by it.
Alexis is a name shared by many, but there is only one Alexis Christine O’Shay(TM) and we know who she is and are the masters of her continued journey around the world. After Melina and Mako arrive and we have our celebration time, we will start another Advanced Production Adventure together. A new girl and a new boy will join Alexis as she and her friends learn about different people, places, and cultures.
So, spread the word that our community is open to all and inspired by all who wish to join our family known as Via E.
(Legal disclaimer: Mattel Inc, and American Girl, LLC are not associated in any way with Via E, Inc. This story is my own accounting of events that have transpired and are disclosed only in an effort to further differentiate Via E copyrights from possible consumer confusion between the brands aforementioned.)