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