#10 - Sophia Smeekens - Studio Escargot

I'm so happy to have Sophia Smeekens on the show. Sophia was getting ready to teach at Ja, Wol and then covid hit so I invited her for a conversation in the podcast. 

foto: Roos Menkhorst 
Sophia makes modern interpretations of Walldorf (Steiner) dolls using repurposed and natural materials. She has started growing dye plants on her allotment and now (naturally) dyes the fabrics she uses. Recently she has left her day job to focus fully on Studio Escargot. 
We talk about her process and craft and the value of handmade items and our work. She's generous in giving some great business advice and lot a of great tips for starting entrepreneurs in textile arts


Sophia learned by doing mostly and took a course from Ineke Grey maker of Waldorf dolls in NL http://poppenatelier-inekegray.blogspot.com/

A note on language. 'sowing and sewing and suing ... In Dutch we tend to pronounce sewing as suing. Sorry if that's confusing. :-)

'You can charge for your energy. it's ok!' - Sophia Smeekens

Sophia says; "Making and selling will become Making and Telling" when she will focus on teaching and sharing her skills from here on out. Find her on Patreon and learn from her how to make beautiful and soulful dolls.

She is @studioescargot on instagram and you can buy her work on Etsy, here

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With this podcast I want to take you with me on my journey to discover the answers to these questions: What do we buy, Where do we buy, Who do we buy from… Or don’t we buy at all but use what we already have? And how relevant is my job as a yarn shop owner selling people stuff when we already have more than we need? How can I make my life as an entrepreneur and textile crafter smaller and more relevant to these times?
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Find me at www.ja-wol.com and @jawolrotterdam on instagram.
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In order to make the podcast available to as many people as possible, here's the transcription (it might have some weird sentences because of the software I use):
Saskia de Feijter
This is a smaller life podcast about making more conscious and more ethical choices within our crafts. Hosted by me Saskia de Feijter. I'm a small business owner who wants to grow by going smaller. Together with local makers, I make tools, yarns and accessories for knitters that want to buy less, buy better, make more and make it last, keeping away the overwhelm, and all the ridiculousness of over consuming within our crafts. In the podcast, I endeavor to answer the question we ask ourselves before we start a project, what do we buy? Where do we buy? Who do we buy from? Or don't we buy it all, but use what we already have? Because when you think about what you do, you take more time and end up with less of everything. As a result, you'll get a smaller life.


This episode, I invited Sofia Jamaicans from Studio Escargot to talk about her business and inspirations. Sophia is a textile artists, she makes Waldorf inspired dolls, using natural materials, and she actually grows her own dye plans in her allotment to dye her fabrics with, she uses a lot of Pre Owned fabrics and makes this fairytale world of characters. It's amazing. We talk about money and the value of our work. And Sofia gives a lot of great tips for starting entrepreneurs in textile arts. She was very generous with her knowledge. And I loved listening to her. Especially because it was a very open conversation about money, which I really enjoyed. I hope you will too. Let me know what you think you can go to the website and leave a message there. Have fun. Again, Oh, yay, I can see you. Alright. Sophia, could you please start by explaining what you do for a living? And tell us who you are and what you do?

Sophia Smeekens
So I'm Sofia, I live in the Netherlands. I have a background in classical upholstery and interior design. And I when I was pregnant of my second child, I started to make some fun items for her bedroom for the baby room. And I made a doll. And other people saw that doll and loved it. And so a few family members and friends asked if I could make a doll for them. And then another friend said, hey, there's Christmas fair, the senior class fair. And if you want to come and sell your dolls, that would be very nice. This is like almost eight years ago. And so I started a little doll company with handmade dolls. And those were very different to the ones I make right now. Because somewhere six years ago, I already started at the beginning that I was always thinking about not producing in very large amounts, which is also not possible when you're just doing everything by yourself. But for example, I never produced without knowing if they would sell. So I would always work on demand to not make any waste. And then I think three years ago I got into natural dyeing and working with vintage and upcycled fabrics. And I always had a deep, profound love for Waldorf education and Rudolf Steiner. How do you say thoughts behind the whole Waldorf education? And I started exploring that more. And I started to also integrate that more into my work working with Waldorf inspired patterns. And I think I now made or am making things Waldorf inspired, but with my very own signature. Yeah, I think you have a very specific signature. I think it's there's a combination of elements that really make it Studio scargo.

Saskia de Feijter
How would you like First of all, let's talk about what does a Why is a Waldorf doll different than any other doll. And then we can talk a little bit about what make your dolls different from the general Waldorf dolls.

Sophia Smeekens
Yeah. So you have different dolls. I mean, you have a traditional rag doll which is made from cloth and you have. For several patterns in that, or types, and you also have, of course, the rubber dolls and the baby dolls, and then you have a Waldorf inspired tool, which is typically has a round head. So you make a head out of a woollen bowl. And it also looks like a real baby, as in hands and legs and the body. So all the measurements are correct. If you would like them next to human measurements, I guess. And then they don't have much expression in the face, they always leave that open a bit for a child's imagination to Yeah, and then yeah, the materials are a lot different to detach. And yes, and I think 90% is organic materials as well. And how are yours even different from that? I think I took my work more into nature inspired, rather than to human inspires. So I'm very much more into making nature elements, I call them like a no, or little elves or I make sets with a gnome, and then towards doors in the fall. And then in spring, I will make little flower bulbs. I always try to make little stories out of it. That's my signature and also the natural dyeing. And if I'm honest, I think my work is a bit clumsy. It's not perfect, because I'm not very good at working with real patterns or following recipes. So I always leave a bit of space open for floss.

Saskia de Feijter
To me, it looks perfect.

Sophia Smeekens
Thank you.

Saskia de Feijter
they have a lot of character.

Sophia Smeekens
Yeah, so I have different styles I had made made this little Christmas elf, and it has very long legs. So that's not very hot. I mean, you would never have you looked like this.


Saskia de Feijter
So I'm describing what it looks like for people that will listen. is a really round head with the eyes are the most clear in the face. It has a little bit blushy cheeks, and there's a shape of a nose, but it's not very distinct. But it does have really cute ears and woolly white hairs and rat heads and white color and very low White Legs under a red sweater. It's really cute.

Sophia Smeekens
These are my personal favorites. I call them elementals This is the father. very round head and then I make baby stick.

Saskia de Feijter
No, that looks like a monkey or is that just me?


Sophia Smeekens
No, no, it's Yeah, it comes whenever you want it to be right what somebody else that called the monkey people. I leave it open for just everybody to call them whatever they like. Yeah, it's the nicest thing about it that you can. If you not give them a real what's a powder in a frame of reference? Yeah. It's for everyone to make how to interpret. This. This one's not finished yet. That looks like a flower Bowlby baby. Yeah, with a brown face and dark eyes. Definitely a bit spring inspired already. Absolutely. I want to make a pink color around the neck. That's lovely. Like I was experimenting with little shoes. No, so cute. I just want them all. Do people buy them for themselves or for kids or for both? I think that they say they're buying it for their children. But I hear a lot. It's just an excuse. Yeah, and I would I always note that they are our adults and artisan and nuts really made to cuddle and rough play. Yeah. So I would really I always tell that it's more for decoration, like on your seasonal table or on the nice shelf and then of course you can do some gentle play with it.

Saskia de Feijter
Mm hmm. Do you have collectors people that like multiple?

Sophia Smeekens
Yeah, definitely. I would say so. It definitely I I'm a collector.

Saskia de Feijter
It wants to be a minimalist.

Sophia Smeekens
Oh yeah, me too. And it always feels so weird for me to have collectors I, I'm so thankful for people that keep buying every time that I have a shop update or they buy it from resellers. And they also take the time to write me a little note that oh, I bought another one of your dolls and like, Oh, another one. Yeah, you already have four or something.

Saskia de Feijter
I completely know what that's like. Because I'm always telling people don't buy too much use what you had. And there I have this online shop with things that I want to sell. So weird pushing pull thing to be in.

Sophia Smeekens
But yeah, I think it's better to have five of my idols and five Barbies. There you go. Yeah, yeah. or five Ostheimer, wooden toys, then five plastic, nothing. thingies from led three, three. Yeah.

Saskia de Feijter
Could you also just quickly explain to people who don't know a lot about the Waldorf and Steiner, philosophy and ideas? a seasonal table. I mean, the word kind of explains it. But could you say

Sophia Smeekens
so Waldorf is very much into nature and connecting to nature. And I think the main thing about Waldorf education is attention and mindfulness. And they try to integrate these in children's lives. So in the traditional Waldorf classroom, or home, there's a little space somewhere in a central or in the living room or in the classroom, where you have a little altar. Maybe you can call it an altar. There's some people that call it an altar these days, where you keep some things from that specific season. Yeah. And without wanting to turn this into a whole Waldorf, ya know, thing? No, no, but I would not. I would not like to frame my work only as Waldorf.

Saskia de Feijter
Yeah, yeah, exactly. That's what I was thinking. And Maaike has said before in the chat, she says it's a perfect modern interpretation of walldorf. Yes. And I really agree. If you look at your Instagram account, you immediately noticed the modern vision that you have. So what kind of the fabrics you dye them naturally? What do you what kind of fabrics do you use? What materials Where do you get them from? Yes. So for natural dyeing, you can only use natural fabrics.

Sophia Smeekens
So I use linen cloth, cotton, Nicky floors, which is a stretchy fluor. I use a lot of felts. I like that very much. And then I use a lot of vintage fabrics. And I get them from Etsy, marktplatz, Dutch, eBay, friends, a lot of friends and then friends that know friends that have fabrics and then they get this stash to me, or my clients even or followers on Instagram. They send me messages saying, My grandma passed away. I'm very sad, but I have a whole bag of fabrics Do you want them?

Saskia de Feijter
And do you then do they ask you to make a doll from

Sophia Smeekens
something but I always offer to make something? And sometimes they say yes. And but a lot of times they're just not I'm very happy that they will be used again.

Saskia de Feijter
Can people ask you to make something specific for them?

Sophia Smeekens
Yes, that's my cherry on top of the cake.

Saskia de Feijter
Oh, you love that?

Sophia Smeekens
Yes. And I have that on a website as well. I call them family portraits. So you can ask me to make just one personal for your family or the whole family. And then send me the fabrics that you would like to have the made out off. I once did a very beautiful assignment for a custom order for a family. The woman that reached out to me her father was had passed away. And his favorite animal was a dog and tekkel

Saskia de Feijter
Yeah, a dash dachshund.

Sophia Smeekens
And for the whole family. I made a dachshund wearing little shorts jeans from his jeans made of the dad and a sweater made from the woolen sweater from the demo that's so special. And that's that has always been so so a such a dear assignment to me and I spoke to a funeral director. She wrote a book and I will be in it as you can ask her to do these little this. Yeah, so yeah, I'm totally into that. Yeah.

Saskia de Feijter
Okay. I think the burning question on a lot of people's lips is Do you also make cats?

Sophia Smeekens
gets. Yes.

Saskia de Feijter
family portraits with cats.

Sophia Smeekens
I love cats. I love all animals. I make bunnies and my daughter is a big bunny fan. So I make made her like five bunnies.

Saskia de Feijter
Yeah. And we can also see from your example before you also have different skin tones to make those?

Sophia Smeekens
Yes, of course.

Saskia de Feijter
Yeah, of course. I, know!

Of course. Yes. Cool. So do you consider yourself a conscious business owner? And why?

Sophia Smeekens
I struggle with it? Because, yes. And then we get back to the discussion that we had before. It's a push and pull. Yeah, I recently after five years of going back and forth, let go of my side job. So I really need to make the money now.

Saskia de Feijter
Do you have like different sets of values now that you did you like stretch out a little bit like I wouldn't do this before, but I will now because I have to earn something

Sophia Smeekens
not really, I, I took on a mantra, which is 'the money will always be there'.

Saskia de Feijter
That's a good one.

Sophia Smeekens
If I need it, I will have a job. I mean, I will have an assignment. And I need to trust the universe. And that sounds really like

Saskia de Feijter
sounds like something I would say doesn't sound like

Sophia Smeekens
that's the only way I could take the leap and jump. And this may sound very strange to an outsider. But to me, I am still amazed that people still every time when to buy my stuff. Every time some somebody buy something from me, I'm like, Oh, okay. And I always thought there will come a point that nobody's interested anymore. But I'm saying this for eight years already. And if eight years have passed by and people still are buying my things, then I think I can trust on my work. And on my hands and on my head and my hearts that I'm doing the right thing. And it would be dishonest to keep on doing a side job and not fully concentrate on this. But I think a good move for my whole company, would be to move the focus from making and selling to making and telling no smart and sharing. Because that's the whole initial thing from Waldorf is that it's an open source thing. And that it's not made to sell. I mean, there's nothing wrong with selling it. But it's made to pass on to your daughter or your son, because sons can make beautiful dolls as well. And what is more beautiful than a handmade gift by your mother, that you will take with you for your whole life and give to your children, and then your children can give it to their children. And then it really becomes a heirloom thing. And of course, it's very nice to buy from me, and then you can treasure it as well. But I feel the need to share and to inspire others to make their own things.

Saskia de Feijter
I think I think you you really do that just by making beautiful things. It's easy to be inspired by just looking at what you make. But do you also teach?

Sophia Smeekens
Yes, I have started doing workshops, and then COVID came and then I tried to do it long distance. So with zoom, that's not for me know, I mean, I need to be able to get the dole that somebody is making and help them and shape them a bit and then give it back and I need the human interaction. But I am working and have sold a lot of do it yourself kits. And I have launched my patreon site again, and there I will share general information on natural dyeing and Waldorf doll making. And then I have a separate series. The more you pay, the more information you'll get.

Saskia de Feijter
Yeah, yeah. And we were talking about that. It's really hard to to ask for money for the thing that you do, especially if it's something that other people do for a hobby. Yeah, and this is part of why I'm hosting this club and the community and doing the podcast is to educate people in general and natives and specific about what it's like to have a business in this realm. It's like what you're saying like, this information is meant to be shared, right? Yeah. But we are also learning to ask for the money, or the hours that we spend it on sharing it. Yes. And it's very complicated to be in that position. And I was wondering, how do you figure out your prices for your dolls? And do you get negative reactions from people? Yeah. Well, if you want to share.

Sophia Smeekens
Yeah, of course, when I first started, I also tried to do markets. That was very hard, because the people just saw the dolls and picked him up. And and, for example, I'm taking the very negative example out, there was so well, but it said, Look, it says have made and I can see the machine stitches here. And it's, I think, because when I started eight years ago, it wasn't a Waldorf inspired doll. It was a rag doll. There were like, 25 years or something. They were like, oh, and it's 25 euros. And it really hurt me. I went home crying that day. Because I was unexperienced and, and I understand and I still understand, because sometimes when I'm calculating the prices of my, my Etsy shop, I don't have one price for a doll. It always depends on all the hours I work on it. Like, yeah, this is very expensive. But nobody's obliged to to buy it. You can say I won't buy it. And if you really want it, then you can always save up for something. And don't buy the five other items at another shop. Yeah. Because that's the way I do it myself. I deprived myself from other things, because, yeah, I can buy a sweater at h&m, but I, do I really need that sweater right now. Or do I still have like two other sweaters that I can wear and then save up until I can buy a very nice sweater from, I don't know, somebody who made it for me? Yeah, for example.

Saskia de Feijter
It's a difficult discussion, because we all want to be inclusive, and we all want to offer our products to everybody, we don't want to say that's not for you, that's not for you. The high price doesn't mean it's for people that are rich, it basically means this is the amount of work that went into it. And then there's another level as makers where we can think of ways that we can like by offering kits that are exactly a little bit cheaper by offering when you do courses you can offer, like, give it away to some people. And then everybody else pays and the price gets a little higher for everybody else. So the people that don't have the money can also fall. There's also there's a lot of ways that you can be creative about making things available for everybody. But I think it's also very important to educate the wider crowd about the amount of work that goes into handcrafted items and the choices you can make, like and there we go back to being a minimalist collector, basically.

Sophia Smeekens
Yeah, exactly. And then if, if someone would come to me, and and this happens, and it's not something that I want to tell, because I want to look good, but there have been people that have followed me for a long time. And I know that they could never afford something that I make. But I gave something to them. Because Yeah, then it's sharing, and they were very happy with it and would never ask for it. But also would never tell me that they wouldn't understand the price. Yeah, and someone who would start with discussing my price, then it's not my problem. It's their problem. And I would never tell you to buy something from me or like an expensive sweater, which is not even expensive. I mean, the whole word expensive. It gets me like, yeah, somebody, I have people writing to me in the private messages, and they're like, how expensive are your adults? And I always respond with way too expensive. Because Yeah, I think we need to stop seeing money as money, but more as something that we invented to exchange energy because I would love to skip the money parts. But unfortunately, I live in Holland and I need to pay my mortgage and I have two children and two bunnies and I need to feed them I would love for it to be a whole lot cheaper, but it's not. I mean, in the end of the at the end of the day, at the end of the month, the beginning of the month, I need to pay my bills. And I made the decision that I would like to do that from something I love. So I need to take the responsibility from that, it doesn't mean that I'm excluding people, because if you really can't pay for it, there's always ways to get it by buying a do it yourself kits, or I don't know, there's a lot of knowledge available for free like within knitting, you can teach yourself to knit from the internet providing you have access to the internet, you can ask somebody that knows how to knit, or you can pay for a course that is given by a famous later. I think as long as we are conscious about what we're doing, what we're offering, the choices we make, and trying to offer what we can to as many people as possible, but without, like killing our own business because of it, because that is never the idea, right? No, but don't you think it's very funny that we need to make excuses for our prices when we're not the ones tearing down this world's? Yes. We're not destructing forests. Yeah. Do I need to say more? I mean, I think I don't I think you and me and all small companies need to own up to our responsibility. I know and what work are worth I think, yeah, worth we're not overpricing prime mark is underpricing. Exactly. And is doing so much harm by doing so. Something that you also see on a large scale at this moment with the whole COVID crisis. There are so many people without jobs right now, and not in the Western countries. But in countries where the h&m and the Primark and all the plastic toy stores are buying their stuff from because they cancelled orders. And yeah, I mean, yeah, I'm out of words. So I think

Saskia de Feijter
we need to make a collective deep sigh.

Sophia Smeekens
Yeah. And I think we need to own up to our worth. And again,

Saskia de Feijter
I agree with, you know, like, we don't have to explain it. I think there's a difference between explaining and educating and being open to a conversation, and being willing to answer questions or that kind of thing. But it's also very important to feel strong in what we do, and just have more of a confidence vocabulary about money and earning to ourselves. Yes. Because a lot of us are very social, very loving people. And we tend to be a little bit down about this side of, of the business. As soon as it's about money. We are scared to say, I just want to make money with the thing I love most.

Sophia Smeekens
Yeah, well, that's not my prime goal. My prime goal is to be not happy, because you can't always be happy. Life isn't always happy. But like we say, that's the freedom. And I'm most afraid of when I'm able to be there for my children at home. And if I can do this, what I love this what I love. And I think if I'm happy, I'm passing on that happiness, because people are emailing me and texting me on Instagram. Like, every time I see a picture, and they're not even buying my stuff. That's totally okay. I'm so happy to see your little stories. And yeah, yeah. So how's that going, like mixing business with the kids around right now? At the moment, it's chaos. But I have an 18 year old and a nine year old. So I only have to do one. But the other one I really need to. I mean, I don't, but I really need to.

Saskia de Feijter
Gotcha. Yeah, check if Yeah, yeah. I need to

Sophia Smeekens
write Yeah, so he's a he's a big help also. But in general My days are I helped my daughter with her homeschooling. We start today by taking a walk for an hour. And then she starts homeschooling and I'm trying to do the things that I don't need to use my head for. So I'm making the dolls heads like I can watch Got the wool, for the doll's heads or I make little drawings that go with my Do It Yourself gets something like this. We work until two. Then she has the afternoon sometimes she goes to play with a friend. Sometimes they come over here and then I check if I can do some emailing or always very light work. Then I work in evenings. So my husband comes home, we eat and then I work in the evenings until 1011. He takes Friday's off, because he he really needs to go to his work. So he can't work from home. So he takes Friday's off and I work Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Right? Yeah.

Saskia de Feijter
So when you're talking about skills, like you can choose to do certain things with your kids around and other things, you need to have focused attention. I want to know some things about scales. And also because you were talking about the DIY sets. Yeah. Let me start by asking, Where did you learn your skills

Sophia Smeekens
in my studio, just by doing by doing? Doing? Definitely, I took one or two of courses from the mother of all Waldorf dolls in Holland. Ineke Grey, but I do have my background in classical upholstery. And I learned a lot of suing but also specific suing like, round pillows or curtains or draperies. So I had a lot of sewing skills I already had. But the making this sounds weird, awkward. But textile, I can do? Yeah, it comes naturally. Yeah. I mean, when I want to draw something, I have something in my head. And it always comes out differently. And I'm so frustrated. But when I think of something, I'm like, yeah, and then I'll do this, this, this this and it always turns out the way I want it. I mean, always, yes, there have been like five or six times since a bit different than I want. Mm hmm. Yeah. What's next? Oh, I can do? Yeah.

Saskia de Feijter
So what would you say if somebody wants to buy a DIY kit or a set? What are the basic skills that they need? Like with sewing?

Sophia Smeekens
Well, it would be if necessary to be able to do the simple suing machine fees like that you know how to cut out a pattern and then put it up on debt, you know that you always need to cut your fabric output a bit more.

Saskia de Feijter


Sophia Smeekens
Yeah, that's a mattress stitch, right? The sewing. Yeah, but I explained them. And that is also why I want to extend my Patreon. I want to make short movies in which I do the the matrix stitch and the invisible stitch all the stitches, the hand stitches that you need to make it all I want to have them on my patrons. So you can always like a cookbook, you can always come back.

Saskia de Feijter
How to boil an egg. Sometimes I have to look that up. I'm like, was it eight minutes? in when the water is boiling? Or do you put it in from the beginning? And then wait eight minutes? Yeah, always look it up. Yeah, I'm not even ashamed. Um, how long would you say it takes to make a doll? Like I know that some are much more intricate than others and you have the sets. But could you?

Sophia Smeekens
Well, that's a very difficult question. Because if you would look at it from a very sec point of view, just sitting, taking the fabric and making it it would take me like one hour and a half. It depends on which door because like this one, the christmas elf it took me like three or four hours because the hair. Mm hmm. But it's not only the making because for for my reselling, for my wholesales, I have four types of dolls that I do. So that's also already preset. And that's very nice, too, because then I don't think I can just make them but for my Etsy sets, and this is something that I know sounds weird. But it is something that needs to come to me. So I can't force myself to make it and then sometimes I have something in my head like a doll with some accessories. And then I laid out together and I'm like no, this is not it. Mm hmm. I need to make other accessories or the colors won't work. And then I need to do the natural dyeing to make my materials because I don't have the pre made materials. And the natural dyeing is also a very time consuming process. It's not something that you just do and always have the same outcome because A natural dyeing is like a 'tover' ball. It's like the magic gum. It always comes out different.

Saskia de Feijter
Oh my gosh, I'm suppressing so many swear words, because because Holy shit, your dolls are like totally cheap. If you're talking about this, like I'm already I'm like writing things down. Okay, write that down. I mean, I was that many, many hours. Yes, there's no way no that you I can ask, like for the for the complete honest, honest Yeah, yeah, and I think we all know that but it's really good to have that split out because because you're making the doll, you makes the doll cheap. And for what you asked for that it should be almost twice the price that it is and then adding all the extra things do it three times four times.

Sophia Smeekens
Because now this is going to be my second year into my allotment garden where I am growing my own plants to die. And that's also something I don't go to a shop and buy my dying stuff. I'm collecting that. So I'm taking these walks with my daughter. And I'm collecting the elder codes that are lying around or I see Nestle somewhere and I need to get to nettles and then I see it and or think of all these hours. But if I don't do those hours walking or gardening, I don't have my dice.

Saskia de Feijter
And the funny thing is, is like it's literally a natural thing to collect them for you. But at the same time, that's a smart way of doing things too, because then you don't have to pay for them. But you are investing your time, which is also much harder.

Sophia Smeekens
So how am I not paying it for for like paying more for it than just simply going to a store? Yeah, yeah.

Saskia de Feijter
Yeah, yeah. So there's no way you can do this, like in a spreadsheet formula type of thing, figuring out like, okay, so I have this amount of fabric and I bought it here and it was wholesale price. And then there's no way to do that. So do you have like an app where you track time while you're working on it? Or do you like,

Sophia Smeekens
I'm really bad at this. And I always misscalculate for wholesale if it's more simple, because then I have a fixed price per doll that I know I'm working this amount of time on the doll. And this is the amount that goes into the material. The price that goes into the material, so then, oh, but every I, every time I talk to my bookkeeper. It's like Sophia, Sophia, Sophia. How come? This is such a natural thing to do.

Saskia de Feijter
That's exactly why this is natural. There's no space for the other stuff exactl

Sophia Smeekens
y. Yeah, yeah. And I've learned a lot in the eight years. In the beginning, I have given away so much, not only just the physical things, but also my time, my knowings my expertise I gave, I just gave it away. And like my friend said, it's I mean, money is just something that we can touch. But you can charge your energy. That's okay. And you do it through money. That's just, yeah, something we pass our energy through. It's okay to ask for money. Yeah, I'm still learning that

Saskia de Feijter
Yeah. But the way to think about it is it's like a process to have to imagine like shells or beads instead of what we know as money. Maybe that helps. I think so. Yeah.

Sophia Smeekens
Yeah. Or plans or bread? Or, I don't know, pottery or a beautiful sweater that somebody makes for me.

Saskia de Feijter
Do you do swaps? I do. I do, too. I do. swaps are perfect. Yeah. I mean, there's an end to swapping.

Sophia Smeekens
Of course. Thank you shall swap your dinner on the table? Well, you could but it will take

No, but I love to swap with my sister doll makers. I think that's very important to do.

Saskia de Feijter
Yeah. Oh, my gosh, I could talk to you for ages because it's it's the same. But then it's it's fabric and not yarn. But it's still so much. In the end, it's the same. Yeah. And it's we're all looking to find balance and all these things. So what would your tips be if anybody wants to start a business in crafts, textile arts, when they start

Sophia Smeekens
First of all, it needs to be something that you're passionate about yourself. So never start doing something because you think that's an easy way to make money. Because it isn't. This is not an easy way to make money. And I know because it's notto make money is to go work into supermarkets or something. You need to be passionate about it. And then you need to accept that there will be moments, days, weeks, sometimes even a month that you're really like, Yeah, really, really, I quit.Why? another doll head. That's something. Never underestimate that time and energy you need to put into social media. That's a whole nother aspect. I have a hate love. Really? Yeah, with my Instagram accounts. I even. So five, six years ago, I deleted my first account, I had 20 k followers, and I deleted my account because I just couldn't. And so it took me six years to get back to almost 20 k again. And I would prefer that it would be just two K, but real followers. So I really have the input and feedback. So never underestimate that. Because you really need to work with that, whether you like it or not. And then take it as a job. Really take it as a job. Do not think oh, I can do this. Like I thought when I started this job. I had my second child and I thought Oh, she can lie next to me in the basket and I'm sitting away on my machine.

Saskia de Feijter
Same thing, I'll just bring them to the shop. Put them in the basket. I'll be fine.

Sophia Smeekens
The first few years my daughter never sleeps, besides from in the carrier or with us in our bed. And I was so sleep deprived.

Saskia de Feijter
Yeah, I remember one time when my partner had to bring my daughter to the handwerkbeurs, the fair. Yeah, because I was breastfeeding and she wasn't having it. Say then he had to take her and I just carried her on my body for the rest of the day while I was working. I have never been so exhausted. It's definitely a little bit different for most moms to have a business and young kids. Yeah. Yeah. Still. Yeah. Yeah. Those were some some great tips. But they're also warnings. What would you say is the most fun or wonderful thing you have now that you wouldn't have if you had a supermarket job or something else?

Sophia Smeekens
Yeah. So I couldn't be at home with my children. I have the benefits that my studio is in my home. That's a benefit, but it's also accountable. But I can make my own world. And I can be in my own bubble. Yeah, but it really needs to be something that you're passionate about. Because I don't think you will reach that point where you can just be in your bubble and make that world.

Saskia de Feijter
Yeah. So last question. Would you say you are an introvert or an extrovert?

Sophia Smeekens
introvert. And I know people don't notice, but I'm going to say blunt. If I don't, I mean, this looked down for me is I mean, it's nice, but 24 /7 with my children is a lot for me. I need to be at least alone. I think for several hours a day.

Saskia de Feijter
Yeah, hear hear.

Sophia Smeekens
So Sunday, Saturday, Sundays, my beloved husband and very devoted father is taking my daughter out and my son is going to his own father, then then I have the time to be in my studio. And those are the moments that I make those needles, stories and sets and yeah,

Saskia de Feijter
yeah. Great. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you for all these

Sophia Smeekens
you for inviting me.

Saskia de Feijter
You could be my sister from another mister.

I really love talking to Sofia about the value of handmade items and how to decide what they should cost and who are they for? It's a very interesting conversation. It's something I think about a lot and I would love to hear your opinions about it. Please let me know send me messages, either through email or just easily press a button on the show notes. We have Recorded there where you can leave a voice message. I would love to hear from you and keep the conversation going. Thanks for listening. It was awesome to have Sophia with us. I really really really enjoyed it.

A smaller life is more than just a podcast. It's connected to Ja, Wol, an indie yarn and tool shop from Rotterdam in the Netherlands. With an online community that's all about bringing back the consciousness in our crafting practice in businesses. The website is www.ja-wol.com. Find our conscious products. Learn more about the free community and sign up for our conscious knitting club membership and our weekly newsletter. You can follow me on Instagram @jawolrotterdam. If you're a regular listener, consider making a monthly contribution and becoming a sponsor through our Patreon page. If you're able to make a financial contribution, it will mean a lot. The show is free for you, but it's not free to produce. If you own a business that fits the narrative, I will happily make a mini commercial for you. If you are a maker, small business owner or otherwise experienced in running a business with a conscience or know someone that fits the description and wants to tell my listeners about your experiences. Get in touch with me via a website or send me a DM on Instagram. Knowing more and choosing with a conscious makes the world better. If you have any questions about an episode or want to leave a note to me and the listeners click the button in the latest show notes on the website. And

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