Tales From The Toy Shop Issue 2. Dec. 2020

Modern Doll Studio

Q&A with Katie Saffady of Modern Doll Studio

Katie Saffady - Mom, Educator, Creative Toy Maker, Co-Owner of Modern Doll Studio

I came across the beautiful Modern Doll Studio dolls while scrolling through my Instagram feed. I knew I would love to carry the dolls in the shop, so I reached out to Katie and she took the time to chat with me. I learned that not only do she and her husband, Silas, make beautiful dolls, they are Early Childhood Educators, and they live in my favorite place in the world, Brooklyn, NY. We are so very honored to carry such an inspiring brand in the shop. They make wonderful toys with a mission that aligns with our own. I am grateful to Katie for taking the time to answer my questions!

Q: Can you tell me a little about your preschool, how you are inspired by The Reggio Emilia Philosophy and how the philosophy supports play?

 KS: My husband I have hosted our preschool program, Little Brooklyn Playschool, for the last ten years. We are sadly closed this year while we stay safe at home with our family. Our program is most closely aligned with the Reggio Emilia philosophy although the environment aesthetic and materials of our space are also greatly influenced by Waldorf. The aspect of Reggio that we are most inspired by is the notion that kids learn through authentic experiences. And nothing is more authentic than play.

Q: What are some of your favorite benefits of play? 

KS: Play is an authentic expression of kids feelings, ideas, wonderings, hopes, fears, and so much more. We believe that it is important to provide kids with lots of opportunity for these expressions through play - to experience them and also to talk about them. In our classroom we encourage kids to talk about their play. After our play times we have something called "work presentation". During these presentations a child or group of children presents their play to their peers. This presentation could be the tour of a block building or an explanation of the roles in a dramatic play scenario. Listening to kids talk about their play reinforces it's value and can teach us so much about a child.

Q: Why did you choose to create dolls?

KS: I started sewing last year. I like to share my interests with the kids so we introduced sewing in the classrooom too. The kids shared their work with me and I shared my work with them. One of the girls in my class asked me to make a doll for her birthday. It was a very simple doll but she loved it and that inspired me to start making more. After our school shut down last spring for the pandemic I spent a lot of time sewing.

 Q: Are dolls part of your classroom?

 KS: Dolls are a very important part of our classroom. Dolls are a comfort item and they are also an important prop for dramatic play. Dramatic play is a very special thing. These games are spontaneous, improvised versions of life. When we watch kids play with dolls or other types of dramatic play we are witnessing the creation of a story. 

Q: How did your design come about?

 KS: Over time my pattern and style that we use with our Modern Doll Studio dolls evolved naturally. The most purposeful element are the skin tones. Our world is truly a rainbow. It's important to us that we represent a range of skin tones in our line - especially brown. All kids should see themselves represented in their play materials and all kids should see others represented in their play materials as well.

Q: What are your hopes for Modern Doll Studio and your beautiful dolls?

 KS: My hope is that our dolls bring kids joy. We love to hear from families about how our dolls are loved.

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