Even though Lucia works for the insurance company, she has dedicated her life to RagDollies. She started to manufacture them eight years ago and welcoming her newborn daughter boosted the passion. We met enthusiastic Lucia and her little helper Lily in their apartment in Bratislava, the place where they live together with RagDollies. This is her story:
Lucia, you are the founder of Handrovníci, RagDollies. Can you tell us how did it all begin?
I got the idea more than eight years ago after I saw these rag dollies and animals somewhere on the internet and decided to create my own. I bought some felt, dig out my grandma’s needles and threads and gather tones of patterns necessary. It was captivating!
What about a name of your dolls?
I started with felt and slowly added other fabrics. Obviously old curtains, dad’s pajamas or shirts were first ones to go. That’s where the name comes from. Handrovníci (handra – rag) RagDollies are made from rags.
You had the idea, name… What came after that?
After realising how much time I used to dedicate to sewing, purchase of the sewing machine Singer, which I have till today, was the next obvious step. As demand was rising so was the interest of my customers, they wanted to know where do the ideas come from and I felt sorry to confess they are from internet. It felt like I was stealing someone’s ideas. Therefore I looked around and sketched my own dollies. You know, every kitty is just four legs and two ears, but I can proudly say this is my creation.
What is Handrovník – RagDolly? What is it made of?
As I have already mentioned, the core is always made of some piece of fabric. I can genuinely say, that during eight years of brand’s existence I bought fabrics only twice. Each of my RagDollies has already lived its story: bed linen, curtains, pajamas, shirts or even bathrobe. There is so much of unwanted clothing around us and it would be a shame not to reuse it.
Since it is a doll for kids can you guarantee the origin and quality of fabrics?
Apart from a piece of rag I also use my two favourite materials: felt for its unique quality or terrycloth for its exceptional durability. Just think how many times do you use your towel, wash it and it remains in the same quality as before. Tummy is filled with antiallergenic polyester fiber. To be honest, it is taken from antiallergenic pillow from Ikea (laughter). Besides that, sometimes there is little squeaking device or rattle hidden in my rag dollies. Each of them gets two safety eyes and is fetched together by miles of threads.
What is the starting point of the whole process? How is it made?
The whole manufacture process always begins with the pattern, which I have prepared in advance or I have to force myself to sketch and cut the new one. It usually takes the most of the time since it is really difficult to start all over again. Following steps include cut itself, the choice of convenient fabric and fetching it all with machine. The final part is also the longest because it requires a proper hand work. Filling, sewing it up or an embroidery.
Where does inspiration come from?
Inspiration is everywhere around us. I am always trying to keep my eyes wide open and wait for the moment to come.
It is fair to label your manufacturing process as eco-friendly. Does sustainability reflect in your work and life?
Yes, as I have said, each dolly is recycled piece of previously used material. You might blame the way in which my parents raised me, but I find it difficult get rid of things which might be useful once again.
Do you maintain sustainable lifestyle even during everyday life?
I am trying to recycle not only materials for toys, but also all kinds of waste produced in our home and even thought it is not much, everyone must start with himself first. How marvellous our life would be, if only that was true!
How are RagDollies Handrovnici changing in time?
I suppose they are evolving with me, reflecting such changes as becoming mom. I got a special Rag Dollies – Handrovníci Spomienkovníci (reminder rag dollies) made only from baby clothes. For example, I turned one of my daughter’s bodysuit into a toy. I find it a nice way to restore a memories.
Which RagDollies are the most popular among kids?
Hundreds kids mean hundreds mischievous minds. Sometimes neither I can tell what is my daughter thinking about but since I got her, RagDollies are even more designed for kids. Not only for those grown up, but also for small ones.
Why do you recommend Rag Dollies to moms?
Because a playing kid is a good kid.
How should we care of our dollies?
Treat them with love! Although, they are quite durable, you can even take them to the bath.
What about those small pieces, is there anything to worry about?
Handrovníci -RagDollies have already been tested by kids themselves, so there is no reason to worry although I can easily create a dolly without little parts especially for babies.
Is it good idea to let our kids to choose their own dolls or clothes?
Based on my experience I can tell that we can influence a child’s decision to the certain point. But it is fair to say that once a child has made up its mind it is not easy job to persuade him/her. I guess there is a middle way to make everyone happy.
How many toys is enough?
Oof, do not ask me. I create and sell toys in order to buy new ones for my daughter. (laughter)
What are your plans for a the future, would you like to expand?
I love my job and appreciate every heartwarming message I receive as a feedback, all those lovely pictures of little customers, I love seeing them excited. Handrovníci-RagDollies are my passion, my way to relax. It is difficult and long way to turn your hobby into a living, but yet it is not impossible and I believe it might become true one day. There is always something to push you forward but you cannot plan it. What goes around, comes around.
How did your collaboration with Piskacie begin?
I am a huge fan of stripes and therefore obviously I am familiar with their work. Blue striped t-shirt with red heart appliqué, what a combination! Some time ago I received an order to create angel dressed in a stripped t-shirt with a little heart attached to the chest. I sent the picture of the finished product to Piskacie, hoping it might be a match and was daring enough to propose my work to them. Luckily they were interested and words cannot even describe how delighted I was.
Is your daughter helping during the process?
She is very helpful, especially when it comes to making a mess. She loves cutting with scissors, filling the toys, pinning and there is nothing she has not tried yet. But thanks to her I know where to stitch more firmly, to secure every detail. One might tell she is my guinea-pig.
Can you describe your day?
My ordinary day starts with coffee and hot cocoa drink, then I hurry to work for obligated 8.5 hours, pick up my daughter from kindergarten later on and our day continues with some shopping. I try to spend every minute possible behind the sewing machine, evenings, in particular, when my daughter is already sleeping – that is my creative time. Knowing there is no one to steal my pencils and crayons I can finally work on my sketches.
Eight years ago she came up with idea to create her own rag dollies for kids and their parents. Handrovníci are made with love and of recycled materials. Since the birth of her daughter they are even more kids-friendly and you an also choose your own Handrovník-RagDolly in Piskacie shop.