Dolls Talks with Bella
Updated: Jul 22, 2021
You can hardly find anyone in the doll community, who has not taken part in Monday4Dolls - doll fashion challenge - at least once. But who is that creative mind that entertains us every Monday?! An architect by trade, who draws her inspiration from doll photography, she does not consider herself to be a doll collector but nevertheless is followed by over 100,000 doll enthusiasts worldwide. She is Izabela Kwella of Bella_BellaDoll!
Hello Izabela, would you please introduce yourself:-)?
Hello, my name is Izabela Kwella. I'm an architect from Poland. In social media, I’m better to know as Bella. Together with my twin sister Justyna we run an Instagram account named @bella_belladoll, bringing together a community of artists, photographers, and toy collectors who share our interests.
- Congratulations on reaching a new social media milestone of 100K followers! How does that feel to know that 100K people are following you?
Thank you so much. We celebrated this milestone for few days to let people know we are grateful they are with us. However, this number actually changes nothing. We just keep doing what we love.
- If you could pick a theme song to describe where your life is at right now, what song would you choose?
This is an excellent question. Since the beginning of this year, I’m very attached to the soundtrack from the Disney movie Moana. My daughter is a huge fan of it. We literally listen to this soundtrack every single day. I get very emotional while I listen to some of those songs. The movie is about a girl who follows her intuition and sets off on a journey to find her destiny. The song I'm referring to is "How Far I'll Go."
- What is one message you would give to your followers?
Do what you love and don't care what people think about it.
- What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their doll Instagram page? What content is the best received? Any tips on how to grow the audience?
I could literally write a book about it. There is so much to be said, but I think the most important is to have fun with it and enjoy what you do. But if you insist on giving just one tip to new Dollstagram users, I would say: Don’t ask people to follow you. Just don’t.
- As a child, were you a player or a maker?
I dreamed of having a barbie doll when I was a kid, but I never got one. I’m a kid of the ’80s, raised in Poland. Mattel dolls were available in my country but were way too expensive for my parents to buy. I had two barbie-looking dolls and one ken-looking doll but never got a real Barbie.
- How did it all start? What/who inspired you to start your doll collection?
On my 31st birthday, my husband fulfilled my dream from childhood. He took me to a store with toys and bought a real Barbie doll. I grabbed one for my twin sister, too, because we shared a dream to have a barbie doll.
- Mattel is coming with a strong message for all girls about believing in yourself and dreaming big. What advice would you give to your 10-year old self?
This is something I’ve started thinking about a lot since I become a mother of a baby girl. I consider how I should raise her and what message she should get from me. If I could meet 10 years old me, I would advise her to learn how to say no and don’t do stuff only to please others. I would ask her to be gentle to herself, don’t push too much, and learn to let go.
- How big is your collection? And what is the most special item in it?
I don’t consider myself to be a doll collector. I think about myself as a doll photographer. I try not to buy many dolls. In my collection are around 20 dolls that I use in my photography. I have a few more dolls still in the boxes waiting to be released. I have two dolls I like very much. It is an MTM Yoga pink top, which plays an Iness character in our doll story, and BMR 1958 Millie close mouth, the face of our Photoshoot for the international photography project the Traveling Doll Pants.
- Your doll photography is fascinating! Are you indoor or outdoor photographer?
My favorite type of doll photography is an outdoor one. I enjoy looking for new places, photo ideas, the right perspective, and exploring good light. I live in the beautiful city of Gdańsk. We have fantastic places for doll photography, a historical city center, an industrial shipyard, and wonderful seaside.
- Tell me about your doll photography projects!
I have two photography projects that I like the most. The first one is a wedding project from 2019. These photos changed me and my attitude to what I do. The project was positively received in our community and media in general. We even had a chance to talk about it on Polish national TV.
The second project is the Traveling Doll Pants project which we co-host together with Patricia from @dressthatdoll. This project is a unique photography adventure that connects doll photographers and lovers from all over the world.
- What is your biggest achievement as a doll photographer?
I had huge pleasure in exhibiting my photography in Poland and China. In October 2018, some of my photos took part in two international toy photography exhibitions in Shanghai. Last year we had an exhibition named "Doll in the city” in Gdynia, Poland.
- Your #Monday4dolls challenge is going from strength to strength. What is the best part of it that you enjoy most?
I love this game so much. The creativity of our talented community surprises me every time. The idea of this game belongs to my sister Justyna. She saw a similar game on Instagram in the „real world,” and she suggested we should do something like that for our doll community. It turned out to be a bull's-eye. Many people sometimes need a starting point and an inspiration to act.
I suggested making it on Monday because I always claim that Mondays are difficult for me, and the energy I get from the participants every Monday helps me start the week.
- Where do you get the ideas for each #Monday4dolls theme?
We take ideas from everywhere. Very often, we use the suggestions of our followers. We create themes that can be interpreted in many ways.
We announce the theme for each #Monday4dolls every Friday in our Instagram post, but our Newsletter team has the privilege to know the theme earlier. They get to know it on Wednesday in the Newsletter. So, it means that usually, I need to choose the theme before Wednesday to have it ready in the Newsletter mail.
- What is your Newsletter about? Why do you run it?
The Newsletter is a weekly mail I send on Wednesday. I like to call it a Dollsletter because it is always related to dolls, doll photography, dollstagram, and my projects. At the end of the mail, you always find the theme for the next #monday4dolls.
I love writing. I wanted a space where I could write more than in Instagram posts. But I also wanted to write more private messages, have a place where people could know me better. I love the idea that I write for a much smaller group than on Instagram, but my readers are much more dedicated. I have wonderful feedback about it. For me, it's a place where I can get my thoughts together. Everyone is welcome to join my Newsletter. The link is in my Instagram bio.
- Among the dolls that you own, is there something that you wish you hadn’t bought?
I’m very picky when it comes to dolls. I consider all my orders very carefully. More often, I regret not buying something when it was on the market at a reasonable price. But you need to know that we don’t have all dolls available in Poland. Some of them never get here, especially the Signature collections.
- What is your biggest doll wardrobe dilemma at the moment?
We have a pretty big collection of doll clothes, but recently we were invited to take part in a project to use curvy dolls more often, and it turned out we don’t have many clothes for this body type. So, I guess we will focus now on changing this situation.
- How do you store your dolls? Are they on display? What are your recommendations on keeping dolls intact?
We have the comfort of having a studio for our photography and equipment, but I think there is no worst way to store our doll-related stuff than how we do it. Everyone who has seen our studio knows what I mean. Since we don’t have many dolls, we just keep them on the shelf.
- What’s next on your dolls wishlist?
Believe it or not but it is MTM Yoga purple top Barbie. We need her to be a body donor for the Gigi Hadid doll, but I would also love to have afro doll form the LOOK collection. Unfortunately, this collection is not available in Poland.
- What doll would you rate as a perfect 10?
It would be a Gigi Hadid doll if she had MTM body.
- Do you think dolls are a good investment? Or is it rather an excuse?
I heard they could be, but I don’t buy them as an investment. I have never planned to do so. I buy dolls that are inspirations for my photography.
- Unbox or not unbox? (& Why?)
It depends on why you buy them. I take the doll out of the box when I know how to capture her in the photos, so it is just a matter of time for me. Finally, they all will be out of the boxes.
- Any links, social media profiles you would like to share with readers, so they can find out more about you?
Traveling Doll Pants Project: https://travelingdollpants.com/
Thank you, Izabela, for the chat! It's been an absolute pleasure to interview you! Wishing you a lot of exciting doll projects ahead!
All photos have been published with the kind permission of Izabela Kwella.