Meet Malcolm, Rita, Ron and Jasper the Ruby Ruth family
Meet Malcolm, Rita, Ron and Jasper just four of the characters which Jenny Mustill has created in her Ruby Ruth Dolls world.
Jenny started the Brighton-based business ten years ago and counts vlogger and YouTuber Zoe Sugg aka Zoella as a fan.
“My friend’s daughter was the one who said ‘did you know Zoella has two of your dolls?’. It was a complete surprise.
“She bought Malcolm and Rita from Brighton stockist, Pussy Home Boutique.
“She has them on her bed so when she does vlogs they are usually in the background and they were even used in the Madam Tussauds exhibition Zoella is featured in.”
After completing a fine art degree at Chelsea School of Art Jenny went on to work as an assistant for Damien Hirst for two and a half years creating his spot and butterfly gloss paintings.
“It was an amazing time and I learnt a lot,” Jenny said.
“But when my contract was up I decided that I wanted to make the dolls full time.
“My friend introduced me to doll making and it just took off.
“I sold so many that I thought I can do this.”
After living in London, Gloucestershire and Cornwall Jenny moved to Brighton six years ago.
The dolls are made by hand and at its busiest Jenny and her small team were making 150 a month.
Due to the popularity of the dolls Jenny has recently secured a major contract with a business in China.
The new deal will see designs mass-produced and distributed in China. The deal agreement confirms that the Chinese company can only export to Jenny, who plans to distribute in Europe and the US.
Jenny said: “To have my dolls and merchandising range being sold in China is a dream come true.
“I have negotiated that I will still make the limited edition dolls by hand, as people like to collect them and I still want to have that element of making them myself.”
Important to Jenny is that the dolls are made in an eco friendly way. Working with Million Tree Project part of the profit of every doll sold will buy a tree to plant in its re-foresting projects in Inner Mongolia.
“The dolls have always had a recycled element to them. When I first started I made them out of my clothes but now their hats are made from jumpers that I buy in charity shops.
“So the colour and knit may vary slightly but it will be completely unique to you.”
Each of Jenny’s creations is given a name and a back story adding to its individual personality.
There are five key characters. Ron and Burt who are gay, Jasper works at The Grand and was based on a cat that Jenny had when she was young.
And Malcolm and Rita are a couple living in Brighton.
“I love with the names like Malcolm and Ron I feel like for my generation it is the name of your grandparents so I like that element it gives them.
“Since selling them at my market stall people have always seemed to have an amazing response to the dolls, which is just lovely to see.”
Jenny still has her first doll which she keeps in her studio.
“The original dolls were dinky, they are quite primitive versions of what I do now.”
A key feature of the dolls is the button eyes.
“It is something I have always done and just a part of who they are.
“We now have the cats which have different eyes but I like the buttons and how it looks.”
At a party to celebrate the anniversary and business deal with China Jenny made a six metre Malcolm to put on display.
As for the name it came from Jenny’s decision to celebrate and honour the women in her family.
She said: “My middle name is Ruth after my great aunt who was a seamstress and businesswoman in Germany.
“I didn’t want to call it Jenny Ruth as I didn’t think it sounded right so I went for Ruby Ruth Dolls.”
To view the characters, see stockists or to buy the dolls, visit www.rubyruthdolls.com