Beverly Cerepak’s artistic skills originally surfaced when, as a young girl, she redesigned all her dolls and their clothing. She progressed into creating her own clothes, and animals of fur. “Trial and error” paved the way to her mastery of many new media and techniques, leading to her employment as top production designer for major chain stores. She designed plush toys, dolls (soft, vinyl, and porcelain), figurines, and home décor products for the toy and gift trade.
Traveling and working alongside the manufacturers in the Orient provided exhilarating and educational experiences. Companies she designed for include Russ Berrie & Company, Effanbee, Dan Dee Toy Company, Chosun Toy Company, and Kids of America.
RUSS Berrie & Company: A Real Life Fairytale.
The Setting: Early September 1969. Her children all in school, including Kim, her youngest beginning kindergarten. Overcome with the ‘silence’, Beverly sought out a new job and was instantly hired by Russ himself. Russ was moving into his new facilities in Elmwood Park, taking a GIANT STEP out from the trailer he once used. Russ and Marvin Shervan, his first designer, had unknowingly hired his future designer Bev Cerepak. Then began the new-whirlwind full of ventures!
And Then, A New Venture: Porcelain!
We landed right in the middle of Anando’s Porcelain Doll factory in Taiwan. Beverly witnessed all the various stages of producing a commercial porcelain doll, from the initial design to completion. Watching her doll heads poured into molds, dried, cleaned and set into ‘walk-in’ kilns for firing was awesome. Once the pieces were completed, they were sent to another factory for assembling. The doll factories operated throughout the days and nights so that RUSS’s orders would be completed and readied for shipping on time. The years 1983/1984 brought-in RUSS’s new success in the World of Collectible Dolls. Beverly researched and designed many collections of dolls such as: The Classics, Yesterday’s Children and Little Women. Beverly’s own designs, Baby Love, Pierrot Clowns, International Dolls and Country Collectibles joined the world of Collectibles.
Effanbee Doll Company: 1986 through 1990
RUSS acquired the Effanbee Doll Company in New York City, 1986 to expand his porcelain Doll Line and seal it with this an already renown firm of collectible dolls (established in 1916), This new turn of events found Beverly ready to embrace the world of doll designs. The never-ending fairytale continues!
A “New Beginning” was ushered In. It was with ‘mixed’ feelings that the famous NYC Effanbee Doll Factory on 12th Avenue was closing and slowly being dismantled. It was hard to believe that many years ago as memories roll back to when Effanbee was manufacturing dolls of the finest composition here in New York City and featured a series of dolls called the AMERICAN CHILDREN. Known everywhere by collectors as the “Look-Alike” dolls, they were all designed and created by Dewees Cochran the “Grande Dame of Doll Making” and one of the world’s truly finest artists. Realizing that now, so many years have passed, that there were dolls still in the factory such as Patsy’s, Cinderella’s and others who were hastily being assembled and readied for shipping to new destinations. This ended the regime of “made in the USA” for Effanbee.
Now the years 1986 to 1990 the Effanbee Doll Company was acquired by RUSS Berrie & Company Inc. and the transition had begun. Biding farewell, were Effanbee’s President since 1971, Roy Raizen and VP Leroy Fadem. In their realm of time, the years of 1979 to 1983 introduced new memories when our own NIADA artists had designed a special line of dolls for Collectors. Designs by renown artists as Faith Wick, Astry Campbell, Joyce Stafford and Jan Hagara ushered a whole new vein of imagery never accomplished before. Now a new era, a new President Phil Lynch and a new Director of Production & Product Research, Michael Pietrafesa took over the reign. Strategic plans for direction and growth were laid down and incorporated for a brand “New Beginning”.
Putting the ‘plans’ into effect, the goal to achieve a ‘new little Patsy-Ann’ standing 9 inches high, Michael Pietrafesa and Bev Cerepak developed innumerable collections which were introduced in 1988. The Li’l Innocents Collections represented a series of Treasured Memories, International Countries, and Special Moments-Dolls of the Month. Other Li’l Innocents came with a full wardrobe of ‘play and pretend’ clothing.
RUSS Berrie’s connections with the Orient for manufacturing porcelain dolls became a natural incentive for Effanbee. A quality line of fine porcelain dolls began to appear. Stunning new collections by Eugenia Dukas, (Effanbee’s renowned designer for over 40 years) were introduced; the “Eugenia Dukas Collection” showing the Gibson Girl, Prima Ballerina and Brides by Name and also her “Ladies Of Fashion” Collection.
A brand new ‘look’ for Patsy in porcelain also appeared. Broadway musicals, always a part of our American heritage, inspired a new doll design in the image of Cosette of Les Miserables. Showcased in the NYC showroom, Cosette was introduced both in porcelain and vinyl. Beverly Cerepak’s design was a Special Limited Edition for the year of 1989.
Effanbee’s President, Sheldon Bernstein (1989-90) stepped in with new energy and introduced Effanbee’s first Soft Friends which were handcrafted in quality plush an embroidered Effanbee logo. One of the specialties featured was Franklin T. Bear, a 14 inch furry friend designed with his own teeny storybook by NIADA artist Beverly Cerepak. When Beverly reflects back upon those years, it truly was “A NEW BEGINNING!”