Lana accidently stumbled upon her dream profession, when she bought a blank wooden Matryoska doll for her six-month old son to play with. All of a sudden she realised, she could put her own mark on it by painting it herself. Her company Matreshkamania was born and she now sells hand painted Matryoska dolls to customers all over the globe.
Traditional Russian dolls in a fresh coat
“I’m very close to living a dream life. For many years I thought art would have to be just a hobby. I didn’t have a proper education, I was scared of competition, I thought I would never be able to do anything unique. But my soul was craving for it. And it happened!” says Lana (35) about how she feels about her business.
Eleven years ago she moved to Prague, Czech Republic, from Russia, where she started working as an English teacher in preschool. She absolutely loved her job, even though she always wanted to become an artist. Lana was not convinced she had the skills or the courage to devote her life to her creativity and that is why she never actively pursued a professional career.
That is, until she one day bought a blank Matryoska doll, the Russian dolls with smaller dolls inside them, for her son to play with. Lana wasn’t keen on buying a traditional set, because she wasn’t too thrilled about the old-fashioned design of the girls.
“All of a sudden it struck me: I can paint it myself! So a bought a few more and that’s how it all started.” Lana puts a lot of time and effort in every single doll, both in creating and executing the design.
“I pay close attention to every single detail and every single doll. I select paints and varnish very thoroughly, I want everything to be just perfect – how they look, how they feel in your hand. I put a lot of positive energy into each of my dolls because my heart is singing when I make them and my eyes sparkle when I come up with a new design.”
The dolls are very popular amongst those with a liking for modern design and a preference for one-of-a-kind products. Lana: “If requested, I add a special text on the dolls, like a name or a message. This makes for a great present and I get a lot of thank you notes from people saying that they will cherish the gift and think they will keep it in the family for more generations. I love this feeling that my dolls made someone’s day very special and will be a reminder of that day.”
Besides the dolls being unique in their design, they also support the natural development of our tiny one’s; holding the dolls helps babies and toddlers develop their fine motor skills, opening and closing helps them in their logical thinking and problem solving ability.
Babies are drawn to Lana’s black-and-white designs and a little older kids enjoy her colourful exemplars.
Lana is constantly working on new designs and is launching new dolls in her Etsy shop soon. She gets her inspiration from modern culture. She explains: “I am inspired by its visual parts, such as patterns, interiors and minimalistic design. But I am also very much inspired by the message that modern culture sends. It is now allowed to make mistakes, to not be perfect, you can follow your dreams, by accepting yourself, and focusing on doing what you love and taking care of yourself. I have it all in my dolls.”
With her Matryoska dolls, she also hopes to shed a positive light on her home country, Russia: “It is very important to me that my project is connected with my national identity. I like that I bring a fresh look to a traditional thing. Matryoshka is one of the Russian symbols, and unfortunately Russia is often associated with not very modern things. But nowadays Russia is changing, and I hope for good. I see my project as a small part of these positive changes. I hope that by modernizing the traditional look of a traditional Russian souvenir, I slightly change the image of Russia and reflect its positive modern changes.”