RUBY Ruth Dolls is celebrating 10 years in business along with a new deal to have designs mass-produced and distributed in China.

The iconic range of dolls are from the imagination of designer and artist Jenny Mustill and is based on the everyday lives of five key characters and their friends who live in Brighton.

For the past 10 years the dolls made in Jenny’s studio in Hollingdean Road in Brighton have been partly made from recycled jumpers which she buys at local charity shops.

Prior to setting up her own business, Jenny was an assistant to artist Damien Hirst, creating his spot and butterfly paintings.

“I’m on a mission to bring joy and comfort to adults as well as children with my dolls and products,” says Jenny, “Children play with dolls and toys as an outlet for personal expression and the objects they use are a vehicle to explore their imagination. I want to reconnect adults back to that feeling. Feedback received over the years certainly seems to support this!”

Celebrity YouTuber, vlogger, businesswoman and author Zoella bought two dolls (Malcolm and Rita) from Jenny’s Brighton stockist, Pussy Home Boutique. Since then, they have been seen alongside Zoella in numerous social media posts, vlogs, press articles, an ITV advert and on the bed with her waxwork at Madame Tussaud’s.

The deal to launch in China came about in a rather unusual way. Having reached a crossroads in her business, Jenny received an email out of the blue from a young man in China who had been studying in Brighton. His English name was Barry. Barry had been drawn to one of Jenny’s dolls at Pussy Home Boutique and had been surprised to see the name on the doll was Barry. He took this as a sign and got in touch with a business proposal.

Two of the characters, Ron and Burt, are gay and like all the others, live in Brighton. Jasper was based on a cat that Jenny had when she was young. You may have seen Jasper in Russell & Bromley stores as he was part of the luxury brand’s Halloween window displays in 2017.

Having a gay couple as two of the core characters was something that Barry was initially drawn to as he felt that gay people are represented even less in the soft toy/doll industry in China than here in the UK.

Jenny corresponded for a while with Barry, working through ideas to take the business overseas. Eventually she travelled to China to meet Barry, who introduced her to potential business partners. She subsequently signed a contract which now makes her an international businesswoman

“To have my dolls and merchandising range being sold in China is a dream come true,” says Jenny, “It means today China, tomorrow the world!”