Do you know Esthex? The Belgian label creates the most beautiful products for kids. Esther, the woman behind Esthex is full of energy and ideas and as a mother of three she is a real pro in creating dolls and toys. We were allowed to ask her some questions and have a look behind the scenes of Esthex!
Dear Esther, tell us a bit about who you are, where you are from and who you live with.
My name is Esther, I am from the Netherlands and 38 years old. I live with my family just across the border in Belgium – close enough to cycle to the Netherlands on a weekly base. We live in an old restored house and my studio is our neighboring house. My husband is a constructor which comes in handy many times and we live here with our twin daughters (10) and our youngest girl Linn (7).
Can you tell us how the founding of your label Esthex came about?
After graduating from art school in Maastricht I had a few exhibitions with my artwork but it wasn’t very satisfying for me. I wanted to create something that people would like to buy and could afford and would hopefully make them happy. I looked up my own childhood drawings one Sunday afternoon at my parents’ place and created the first three dolls. I went to shops all over the country with a small red suitcase and it somehow worked : ).
Where is your workplace?
My workplace is our newly build studio next to our house. I only moved in this spring and love the light and space I have now compared to a tiny studio I worked in on the other side of our house (which now is a chill out space for the girls ;) On the ground floor we keep our stock and on the upper floor is the studio.
Where do you gain inspiration for your new products?
It basically comes always unexpected and could be from the kids or while reading a book or seeing a nice movie. This is by far the most fun part of my work. Lately I really feel the urge to design also grown up things, maybe because my kids are getting older? Esthex was always called “forkidsandgrownups” so my designs for kids and adults should go hand in hand.
What do you pay attention to in the materials you use?
It depends if I want them to be soft and cuddly for a doll or strong like canvas for a backpack. It either way has to be the best solution. I am also happy to have found a knitting place for our new knit blankets which are made of 100% organic cotton.
How important is sustainability for you and your label?
Very important as I would love for my dolls (and the entire collection) to become a child’s favorite and to become dirty and well loved but still survive their daily adventures and to be put on a shelf once they are adults. The Thai workplace I work with for many years now is truly the best in making perfect quality and pay attention to every little seem.
What was the biggest challenge on the way to becoming self-employed?
It’s a funny question because I never thought about becoming self-employed, I guess after graduating it felt as the only way to be completely creative if I started my own label and I have never worked for another company. The biggest challenge I do think, looking back, is lack of experience and you have to find out everything yourself, going from one bump in the road to the next but still finding the right path.
What is the best thing about being self-employed?
Waking up in the morning, taking the girls to school and then heading back home to the studio and think about what I had planned for this day.
Why should people buy your products? What makes them different?
Difficult to say about my own designs… I hope my customers like my products because of the colors and characters and that the entire collection is made with attention for fair trade and an ethical work process. And that it comes from me and my urge to design.
Do you have exciting plans for your label?
Yes! I always get asked if I am a graphic designer or illustrator and to be honest, it makes me happy and it feels like a compliment. So beside the dolls and backpacks I will also concentrate more on drawings and patterns and create blankets, duvets, cushions – a home-line really.
Thank you so much for this lovely and inspiring interview dear Esther! We wish you all the best for you and your family!
You can find some more information about Esthex on their ManyMiniThings feature site.