Those who think that you cannot learn while playing, are quite mistaken. You can learn a lot!
I was fascinated when I saw the handmade dolls made by Adriana. They are quite different from everything I saw until now.
Apart from having a luminous ‘smile’ and ‘look’, they can also be a resource to teach young children where babies come from and how you feed them.
Nowadays, in which there is a growing wave of women that opt in having a more natural and harmonious birth, these cloth dolls are ideal for those who already have children and are expecting to have more.
Adriana Guerra, the woman behind ‘Mamamordolls’, is 47 years old and lives in Alberta, Canada, and has agreed to talk to us a bit more about her art.
What’s the origin of the name ‘Mamamordolls’?
Adriana Guerra (AG): MamAmor is the combination of two Spanish words: MAMA (Mother, mom) + AMOR (love).
Were you the one designing your logo?
AG: My brother in law is a graphic designer and we worked together designing the logo, colors, etc.
You have mentioned that you have started making birthing handmade dolls when you were pregnant with your third child; why did you have that need?
AG: A few years ago while I was training to become a Doula, my trainer showed me a birthing doll from Brazil. I thought “What a great idea” and I decided to make one for my kids ages 4 and 6 at that time. I made the doll for personal use but I immediately saw that there was a need when my Doula colleagues and other friends started placing orders. I never stopped making dolls since then.
Can you explain what a Doula is?
AG: A Doula is a non-medical assistant/couch/ birth companion in childbirth. A Doula provides education, information, emotional support and physical conform to a mother before, during and after childbirth. Doulas work with all kinds of families and in all kinds of scenarios (homebirth, hospital birth, etc).
Do you feel that if we show children how a baby is born, that that will make them less scared of when their mother has the delivery?
AG: Birth can be intense. Children and adults of any age can be scared, depending on personality and previous preparation. I believe that if you talk to your child (from an early age) about the facts of birth as a normal event in life, your child will be more prepared for birth. When the time to be a parent arrives, that previous knowledge will help him/her to feel more confident and open to educate him/herself about birthing options. I am not sure if they will be less scared, but they will certainly be educated and prepared, which might reduce the fear and the chances of making bad choices, significantly.
I have noticed that you work along other crafters, who are in different countries; how did that idea come about? Is it hard to work with others that are not nearby?
AG: I met many crafters in person, but the majority of the crafters I collaborate with I met online. I have been doing this for almost 10 years, many of the crafters I know are from different countries and I thank the internet for allowing me to connect with them. From Etsy to craft groups and forums, the possibilities to connect with other crafters are limitless.
Which artists inspire you?
Do you have a background in Arts?
AG: I have been making things since I was very young, from sewing to crocheting to macramé, you name it! I consider myself a self-made artist.
Do you work full-time as an artist/crafter?
AG: Yes, I do. Although I have recently starting working on other related projects – social media for small businesses and setting up a sewing program for immigrant women in my community.
Which type of materials do you use in your work? Why?
AG: I use cotton, felt and other variety of materials but my favorite is yarn. I get the yarn for the hair of my dolls from a cooperative of women in Uruguay called ‘Manos del Uruguay’. They have the best yarn ever, I love the colors and textures and I like to support them.
What do you mainly wish to transmit to others with your art?
AG: My dolls represent birthing and breastfeeding mothers around the world, they are meant to help normalize birth and breastfeeding. They are beautiful and educational at the same time.
Do your children want to play with all of your dolls?
AG: My two oldest children are now teenagers, but my youngest daughter is 9 and sometimes plays with them. She mostly helps me dressing them and doing their hair. She has been around my dolls since she was born so she is used to them, she has her own doll named Violeta.
Where do you mainly sell your work?
AG: I sell my dolls online and at birth and breastfeeding related conferences and events organized for Doulas, midwives, childbirth educators and lactation consultants.
Is it hard to balance the time you spend making your art works and the time you have to spend on social media to promote them?
AG: Yes, it’s hard. Right now, I have two mama helpers who work on the doll’s bodies, hair and clothing so I have time to work on my business. Social Media is a great place to promote my dolls but it’s surely time consuming.
You also have a blog; which type of issues can we expect to read on it?
AG: Mostly sibling preparation topics although I do write about birth and breastfeeding in general as well.
Which social media do you prefer? Why?
I prefer Instagram because I am a visual person; I love images more than words. However, I use Facebook a lot because I can share articles, full videos, and I can promote and sell my dolls directly from my page.
Which method do you think is best to gain more followers?
AG: I think that consistency in posting good quality content is the key to gain more followers, however, each platform has its own tricks. I’ve learnt that you need to stay up to date with what is new in each platform because their algorithms change all the time. ‘Giveaways’ and collaborations are also helpful, however, the quality of the followers can be compromised.
Do you believe that more followers equals more sales?
No, I don’t think so. It’s not about quantity but quality. I find hard to gain quality followers these days, the online world is too crowded and people feel overwhelmed. The trend now is to gain quality followers via Facebook groups, you might have less followers but better quality ones.
Do you attend craft fairs? If so, which ones?
AG: I tried craft fairs in the past but they were not the right place to sell my dolls. My target market can be found at craft fairs but in a very small percentage. The majority of my buyers can be found at birthing, breastfeeding and babywearing related events.
Do you come up with names and personalities for your handmade dolls when you are creating them?
AG: Yes I do. When they are ready for photos, I think about names for them which usually come to mind very fast. However, when I am not very inspired I ask people on Facebook and Instagram for ideas and suggestions, people love to name the dolls and I get great name ideas!
Which is your advice to new artists/crafters trying to live from their art/craft?
AG: If you really love what you create, you should keep creating it. It’s totally possible to live from your art/craft, you just need to figure out a way to monetize it without compromising your time and the quality of your work. Trying to make and sell your art alone can be difficult, you can’t do everything, you need to delegate. Do what you are good at, and hire other people (who are good at what they do) to help you sell your art, that’s a good formula for success.
You can follow Adriana’s work through her social media links below:
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/MamAmorDolls/
Further to the above, if you wish to know more about Doulas please check Sara do Vale’s work at www.saradovale.com , she is an amazing lady doing a great job in helping mums and their children as a Doula and also through her association – Portuguese Association for Women’s rights in Pregnancy and Childbirth .
Smile inside so that you can have a smile on the outside and be happy,
PS All pictures here are by ‘Mamamordolls’