My name is Sofie Skein-Hall, and I sculpt figurines for my line, Bonjour Poupette. I live with my husband Nicolas in a small fishing village on the Oregon coast.
Animals and art have been an integral part of my family for as long as I can remember. I grew up next door to my parents’ veterinary clinic in a tiny mountain town, and my mother, who’s a gifted artist, used to spend hours drawing and sculpting animals with my sister and me. After college, I moved to Portland to work as a designer at an architecture and urban design firm. I longed to create artwork full time and move away from the city, but I couldn’t imagine transitioning into another career. Then in 2009, the economy took a downturn and I was laid off. I looked for another position but no one was hiring, so I started taking on freelance creative projects. When Nicolas dared me to set up an Etsy shop, I did.
Within a week of setting up shop, I sold my first figurine. I was delighted, but I knew that I would have to work hard to make this my full-time occupation. I made a commitment to make and list a new figurine every day for a year, and I also began studying the Seller Handbook to learn everything I could about running an online business. Eventually, I was able to support myself exclusively from my sales and devote myself full time to my shop. Since then, my line has grown to include wedding cake toppers and custom figurines.
I’m still committed to sculpting my figurines every day. This practice has helped my skills and aesthetic mature, even as my style and subject matter have endured. I make each character by hand, one at a time, which is always a surprise and a delight. I enjoy exploring the characteristics that animals and humans share: sweetness, sincerity, vulnerability, humor and bravery.
For me, Etsy was the critical link that made it possible to make a living from my artwork and fulfill my lifelong dream of living near the sea. This venue has made it easy for new customers to find my shop, and for loyal clients to keep track of what’s new. It has also has made it possible for me to evolve my business at my own pace and get exposure to potential customers worldwide.
All photographs by Bewilder and Pine.