An eight-year-old girl has been, quite literally, bringing her drawings to life by turning them into cuddly toys alongside her mother.
The pair launched their business idea, Lilia’s Smiling Horses, in April 2020 – inspired by little Lilia’s love of horses and passion for drawing.
Her mum Polly, from Wiltshire, said: ‘Lilia loves riding horses, she’s been riding horses since she was two and she used to draw horses all the time.
‘The first line of toys that we made were a line of horses with smiles on their faces, as she used to always draw horses with smiles on their faces – and that is how we came up with the name.’
The first of Lilia’s horse drawings that was transformed into a stuffed toy was called Tiger Stripes – with the youngster describing her as a ‘very joyful mare’ whose superpower is to ‘make rainy days brighter’.
Wanting other children to experience the joy of seeing their drawings become toys, the mother and daughter duo then began offering the service to others.
However, Polly admits that her daughter is a ‘bit of a control freak’ when it comes to helping.
But this is only to make sure the toys look similar to the original drawing.
‘She is constantly supervising – she is very outspoken and always has an opinion’, Polly, who works in the medical centre at Marlborough College, said.
‘She is also very creative and constantly produces 3D models all the time.
‘You know how artists are with their art, and she wants to make sure everything goes to plan, so is very involved with the whole thing.
‘It is also a hobby for both of us that we love to do and gives us valuable bonding time together.’
Customers can place an order through their website or on Etsy – with most taking a couple of days to produce, as Polly hand-paints the children’s design onto 100% cotton fabric, which is then shaped and stuffed.
For pictures that are ‘more difficult to reproduce’, she uses Photoshop and then sends that image to a company to print it onto to fabric – which can take up to two weeks.
‘I never want to rush the process because I really insist on the results being the best they could be’, Polly added.
Th mum and daughter love making the toys because they know ‘how special they are for the children and parents’.
But one that really stands out for Polly was a memory toy she made for a mother, using the last drawing of her young girl before she died – a little princess with hearts.
‘It was a gift from her aunt to her mum – and it got emotional for me and I did all that I could to make it as good as possible’, Polly added.
‘The toys are so unique as they are designed by children and that is the thing that really motivates me because it encourages children to be creative and makes them happy, which is so satisfying.
‘The most important thing for me is that I do not take any credit because it’s actually not my art – it’s the children’s and I am just recreating it so that they can have it permanently, in case something happens to the drawing.’
Polly is also planning an exhibition in an art gallery to showcase Lilia’s new line of toys next year.
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