Inspiration Sunday is a 7 question interview with people I admire and that inspire me, I hope they will inspire you in some way too. Today's guest is fellow foreigner living in Japan, Melanie makes beautiful Waldorf inspired dolls, I am sure you will fall in love with her and them.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself....
My name is Melanie Sasaki and I am originally from the USA. I have lived in Japan since the summer of 2004. Currently (until the end of January) I have 4 different jobs: I teach English in the elementary and junior high schools in my town, I am the owner/creator of Beautiful Sky Creations, a mother to a very energetic 3 year old, and a wife. While there isn`t any one job title that I prefer over the others as they are all a part of me and I enjoy each one, the mother is the one that takes up the majority of my time.
I love having quiet time to myself to either do sewing projects or reading books. For the past few years I have read less and less books geared towards me and more geared towards children. I would have to say my creative side would be comes naturally as my mother is also sews, though her main medium is quilts.
2. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Whenever anyone has told me that I am very creative, I usually tell them I am really good at mimicking. I can`t say that I am taking others ideas but I tend to see something and go “Oh, I could do that.” It might take me a few tries but in the end things usually work out. As for dolls, often times its the material that inspires, whether its a fabric or a yarn. Something that catches my eye. I like trying to make dolls that are unique so while I do make dolls with brown, black, blondish hair, I love making ones with that have blue, pink, or a rainbow of hues.
3. Tell us about your business?
I make waldorf inspired dolls. Waldorf dolls are originally made from all natural materials and are in a way simplistic in design, that makes it both a safe toy for children and also inspires their imaginations. A doll with a simple expression can either be happy, sad, surprised, etc. While I do usually use all natural materials, I am not against trying something new either. While my goal is not to devalue other doll makers in prices (I definitely know their work is worth the price) but I do try to keep my prices on the lower end as I know what it is to want to give your child something special but not being able to afford it all the time, which is the whole reason I started.
4. What led you to start your business?
I would have to say I started, while unintentionally, back in 2010 when I started looking for the perfect birthday present for my daughter`s first birthday. I came across waldorf dolls while on a mommy forum and while I know how much effort is put into a homemade item, I definitely didn`t have the money as a stay at home mom to spend so much.
I ended up searching the internet to try to find any sort of kit or instructions so that I could make my own. In the end I had the supplies shipped into Japan. After I made my first doll, I had several people tell me that I should try to make some more to to sell. It somewhat put the idea into the back of my head but nothing really came out of it until 2011.
2011 started with what we thought would be an awesome year as we had just made the decision to buy a house. While our house was being built from scratch the official signing wasn`t until March 14th. Of course, three days before the official signing came the Tohoku Earthquake and while we came out unharmed and without any damage, it did have an unforseen effect on us. Since my husband is in the fashion industry, things slowed down considerably and definitely affected our pocketbook.
As the year slowly came to end, I was trying to think of more ways to bring in even just a little extra money. Thats when I really got down and started trying to sell my dolls. It was definitely hard going at first because before I could sell any dolls, they needed to be made, and in order to do that, materials had to be bought with money that wasn`t around.
It was definitely started slow but thanks to some very lovely friends, a few dolls were sold. I also started teaching in the schools which brought a much more steady income in to help pay for materials.
5. What does an average day look like for you?
At the moment my typical Monday through Fridays are very busy. I get up around 6 and get myself and daughter ready for work/daycare. We are out of the house by 7:20 and return home around 4:30. It definitely took some time to work out a routine that fit in some sewing time for me but eventually I would manage to fit in at least a little. After coming home, and perhaps playing outside for a little, I try to get dinner set while getting the bath going. After dinner and bathtime is over, I let my daughter watch some kind of movie or TV show. While she is watching I try to do whatever I can by her so that I can interact with her at the same. Usually its either cutting out a pattern or doing some hand stitching.
Since I generally go to bed to bed at the same time she does, it definitely doesn`t leave much time to get much done. Major sewing is usually done on the weekends when she goes to bed much earlier.
6. What is the one thing about your job that makes your heart sing?
I definitely love it when a doll is finished and has sort of come to life per se. Each doll is definitely special and definitely has what seems to be their own personality.
7. Share a secret with us that has never been shared online before...
I love to cook. Before heading to university I originally wanted to a chef. After meeting my husband, he told me he decided he had to marry me after eating my Thai Coconut Curry. In my case, a way to a man`s heart was definitely through his stomach!
Melanie Sasaki is an American living in Japan. She loves creating things, whether knitting, quilting or sewing. She currently not only creates one of a kind dolls but also teaches English all while trying to be mom to an energetic three year old.
How to find Melanie:
Website: Beautiful Sky Creation