Why Ruby Ruth Dolls?

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Why Ruby Ruth Dolls?

At our recent open day I was asked by a few people the reason behind the name Ruby Ruth Dolls. The short answer I've been giving is that I wanted to create a different identity, a whole new persona if you like, when I first embarked into the business of handmade dolls. However, there is a longer version that I'd like to share. If you have a bit of time, keep reading..........

My full name is Jenny Ruth Mustill. Ruth is also my mums middle name and it was the first name of her much loved Aunt Ruth. Our middle names honour her. Here's Ruth looking elegant as always as a young woman:

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Ruth was born in Leipzig (Germany) in 1911. She had three sisters, one of which was her twin: my grandma, Ilse. 

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Twin sisters Ilse (left) and Ruth (right) enjoying a hug with their father Karl (my great- grandfather). I love their bold little hand gestures pointing to the sky and matching outfits! 

My mum was also born in Germany but my brother sister and me where born and raised in England. My mum met my dad here in the 60's and they both decided to start a family in South London. Growing up it was magic to hear stories about Germany. The ones I loved the most, probably because my mum told them with passion were Auntie Ruth's adventures. She was a very determined and creative woman. When she was young, Ruth designed costumes for the Ulm theatre. Later on Ruth went onto run her own business designing, making and selling dresses from her atelier on the top floor of a block of flats in Hildesheim. Hearing about the huge pattern cutting table and the seven apprentices that worked there was very inspiring to me. I liked to imagine the space and creativity of the group of women working together. You can tell I've always had a very vivid imagination. Although I can't even remember meeting Ruth in my few visits to Germany as a child, I felt and still do feel connected to her by sharing her name as well as her passions. Even before I started making dolls I hoped one day I would too be able to support myself with a creative business and have a studio space with a large table to work at! 

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Ilse and Ruth aged 19.

When thinking about a name for my business, Ruth seemed a natural choice for me. By adding the name Ruby I found it rolled off the tongue nicely due to the alliteration. Initially I wasn't sure about adding the word dolls to the brand name as I thought it could give the impression that the characters are only for children. Interestingly from the very early days of selling Ruby Ruth Dolls at markets and festivals many grown- ups were interested and indeed bought my dolls, often for themselves. So I'm glad its Ruby Ruth Dolls because I feel that the name conveys not only the passion and creativity of Auntie Ruth but also the idea that playing is for all. Children and adults enrich their lives though play. I find the dual appeal of the dolls both as a nostalgic link to childhood and the way they are used as interior objects to decorate customers homes fascinating. At least I like to think that Malcolm, Rita, Jasper, Oliver and co put smiles on their owners faces after a long tedious day at work or school. They might do so from a shelf or a cosy chair, there smiley faces appealing to the child that lives inside us all. 

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Ruby Ruth HQ Open Day

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Ruby Ruth HQ Open Day

Wow! What an incredible turn out for our first ever open day last Saturday! After a crazy week of preparations and little sleep it was a worry that no one would come but to my amazement there was a long que of people waiting outside when the doors opened at 11.00am. Here is myself, Louisa and Cara (the Ruby Ruth team) on the day before the rush:

 

Getting the studio ready has been a lot of hard work. It's been a looooong process since I got the keys a few months ago. We are still based at Rodhus where we've been for the past 4 years but have moved to the other side of the building into a space that is three times the size of the previous one. Rodhus was originally a lighting factory which got transformed into studio spaces in 2011 . There are over 30 different artists and businesses in the building which range from photographers, screen printers, musicians, wood workers, fashion and lighting designers, upholsterers and bespoke Regency era taylors- its great to be part of a community of makers and creatives. 

The new workshop was previously a pottery studio run by Roberto Gagliano. Roberto has now moved into the largest space at Rodhus which he runs his brilliant classes from- I have been on one his courses and definitely recommend it!

 

As the space had been used as a pottery studio for many years it had a huge amount of clay stuck to the floor, walls and ceiling. It therefore needed a big clean up job before we could start working in there with all the fabrics needed to make Ruby Ruth creatures. 

After many hours of sweeping, mopping, painting and poly filling holes the whole space needed a lick of paint including the floor. Eventually we we were able to start moving in and making it feel more like home. 

Over the past 8 years that I have been running Ruby Ruth Dolls it has been great getting to know customers through email and social media so an open day seemed like a natural way to celebrate moving into the new studio and a great opportunity to put faces to names. On the day I was overwhelmed by how many people came and brought some of their Ruby Ruth Dolls with them and how excited they were to see the new studio. One customer I talked to had been made a Rita cake for their birthday recently which was incredible to see! 

 

Thanks again if you came along. I am already planning more open days later in the year and hope to see you there! Here are a few more photos from the day.

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Shirley's Woodland Wander

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Shirley's Woodland Wander

Shirley had a break from her usual role running a nightclub cloakroom to have a holiday in Latvia! Whilst there she spent an afternoon wandering around the Gaujas National Park in Sigulda. Here's a photo diary of what she saw.....

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Behind The Scenes

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Behind The Scenes

Hi! Welcome to the brand new Ruby Ruth Dolls blog. You might have already caught a few glimpses of the Ruby Ruth studio if you follow us on instagram or facebook but I thought it would be a good way to start the blog with a proper look behind the scenes to get a closer look at where all the characters are brought to life....... 

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