This summer we featured Barbara Brockett, the talented manufacturer of the clothespin dolls sold in our museum store. The dolls are always a huge hit with all of our visitors, however she is not the only Village-related provider of handmade items. We, of course, have our blacksmith as well, but you may not realize that the craft kits sold in our store are made by Sophia Radke. Who is Sophia Radke you might ask? She is a high school student and part of our Junior Historian program, and the owner of her own small business, Old Fashioned Fun.
Sophia first got the idea for her business four years ago (when she was only in the 6th grade) when her homeschool group hosted an entrepreneurial fair. Determined to take part in the one night event, she thought long and hard about what she could sell. Her first product was a yarn doll, an item that she liked to make and play with when she was younger. Sophia also put together kits with all the supplies and instructions so that other kids could make their own yarn dolls. By the end of the night she was almost sold out! At the end of that year, Sophia became a Junior Historian here at Dallas Heritage Village. After looking in the store, she realized that her kits could fit in with the other merchandise. The kits were old fashioned in theme as well as educational. Sophia asked the Guest Services Manager at the time if she could sell her kits in the store. Since then she has added two new kits, the Needle Book Kit and the Possibles Pouch Kits, and has revised the kit instructions and supplies multiple times.
She finds the process of creating new craft kits exciting but also challenging. There are many aspects to creating each kit, including historical research, designing a prototype, hunting for the right supplies, writing instructions, and then packaging them neatly. The most recent new addition to her line are the Possibles Pouch Kits. Sophia explains, “There was a lot of trial and error in figuring out the best pattern, a lot of frustration while trying to find affordable, modern materials that would closely match their historical equivalent, and a lot of time invested in writing the instructions as clearly as possible.” Once all of that is worked out she feels justifiably proud. She admits that the best part of this process is having a finished product in her hands.
Sophia has two main goals for her company, the first is to continue to provide unique, quality crafts kits that give kids (and adults) the opportunity to have fun making something in an old fashioned way. The second goal is that those crafts will not only be enjoyed and used regularly, but they will also stimulate creativity. She’s not sure what future holds for her company but knows it will be full of “Old Fashioned fun.”
Aside from being one of our vendors in the store, Sophia and her family are regular faces here at the Village. As mentioned before, she is one of our Junior Historians. Aside from the friendships she has made with the other historians, her favorite part is getting to work on the exhibit renovation projects. She was part of the group that put together our current exhibit in the Worth Hotel. For this project she got to research the people who ran the hotel and those who would have stayed there. The members of that group not only did the research but were also very hands-on about the way the displays would look. Sophia even wrote the piece which is part of the permanent exhibit in the hotel parlor! She never tires of coming to the Village because in this program she gets to be with like-minded, history loving kids, and she feels like she is hanging out in a small town in the 1800s rather than a museum.
In addition to the Village and the history she has learned about here, she is also most fascinated by ancient history, such as Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. But true to being a representative of the Village she loves the Victorian Era in America, specifically learning inventions from that era that helped to shape the world we live in today, like the light bulb. Her favorite event or time at the Village is to volunteer at Civil War on the Home Front (which will hopefully be rescheduled for this Spring). The reenactors have been her favorite part of the event ever since her first time attending as a guest at the age of six. She actually got the idea for her Possibles Pouch Kits from listening to the reenactors talk about the “poke sack” and possibles pouches they carried around.
Sophia is a big part of the Village and some of the staff members have literally watched her grow up here. She is a great business woman and I am proud to provide her craft kits in my store. The kits make great gifts for children in your family and can be used and enjoyed long after your visit. They also make great tools in the classroom.
If you are interested in placing an order for one of her three craft kits, please contact Guest Services Manager, Caitlin Hughes at email@example.com.