Feb
27

Family | Raplapla

raplapla

RAPLAPLA IS AN ELECTIC CHILDREN'S BOUTIQUE THAT SPECIALIZED IN ORGINAL, HANDMADE DOLLS. The shop is nestled on a residential street at the border of Montreal's Plateau and Mile End neighbourhoods. The space is welcoming and homey with an imaginative and playful atmosphere. In the winter an authentic wood-burning fireplace is used to heat the shop and adds to its cozy vibe. Also doubling as a workshop, many of dolls are created in house. The essence of Raplapla is based on integrity, keeping production local and good quality. Erica, Raplapa’s owner, started this business out of passion, which still remains her driving force today. Here are a few questions we asked Erica to learn more about her creation process and what goes into making children’s’ toys.

CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT HOW RAPLAPLA GOT STARTED?

When my daughter Lili was a baby I made her a mammoth with black wool, Mamouthine, who was magical. This mammoth became the inseparable companion of Lili’s and I soon found out that it had very useful super-powers, like stopping the pain from a “bobo”, comforting any kind of sadness or putting Lili to sleep instantly (this compensated largely for its two faults: its smell and propensity to get lost). A couple of years later, in 2005, after I had a second baby I decided to share my knowledge in “fabric companions” and imagined the raplaplas.

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IS THERE MEANING BEHIND THE NAME RAPLAPLA?

Raplapla means flabby (like a plush that received a lot of love), soft (like a comfortable soft toy), or completely flat (like a toy drawn by a girl who doesn’t know how to draw). It can also mean tired, or depressed, but not in this case (as I’m sure you noticed!).

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WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THE NAME RAPLAPLA?

Because it’s fun to say!

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OVER THE PAST SEVEN YEARS, YOUR COLLECTION OF RAPLAPLA DOLLS HAS REALLY GROWN, AND THE NEW MEMBERS SEEM TO COME FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD. WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION FOR EACH NEW DOLL? 

When creating a new doll my inspiration mainly comes from the materials. The colours, patterns and textures take control over my imagination and give me the desire to create a new toy. The arrival of a baby or a museum visit can also be behind a new creation.

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IS THERE ANY PERSONAL CONNECTION TO THE DOLLS THAT YOU CREATE?

Often, the names I give to my dolls are inspired from people close to me. So my family and friends sometimes have a raplapla that resembles them in a way. Other times, it’s simply the expression of the doll that inspires its name, without any link to someone I know.

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YOUR PRODUCTS ARE MADE WITH HAND SELECTED AND GOOD QUALITY MATERIALS SUCH AS ORGANIC COTTON. WHY IS THAT IMPORTANT TO YOU?

Using organic cotton at Raplapla for our beginner doll, designed for newborns, made all the sense in the world. It is part of our concern for integrity. The toy is made for a tiny baby who knows nothing in the world yet, and one of the first things they will do is bring it to their mouth. Organic cotton is the best option, for them and for the earth as well. That said, we also use regular cotton and even synthetic fabrics, depending on our project. We always keep in mind our concern for quality, and we work to improve ourselves constantly. We choose our supplier carefully and all our production is local including the dolls, plush toys and packaging.

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WHAT ARE THE BEST AND MOST CHALLENGING ASPECTS OF BEING A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER?

The best thing about having a small business is the LIBERTY! The price you pay is choosing between your integrity or filling your wallet with your eyes closed. For 10 years, I’ve been making the first choice and I have no intention of changing.

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PHOTOGRAPHS by Lauren Kolyn

Visit the Raplapla shop online!


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