About Zoe and SoulPlay

“I feel deeply lucky to have SoulPlay as a creative outlet
for myself and my greatest hope is for everyone to experience the magic of
SoulPlay dolls” ~ Zoë Nepgen

SoulPlay is a brand that nurtures child-like play and instils old fashioned qualities and values back into children’s toys. SoulPlay was founded by Zoë Nepgen - a Cape Town born and bred fabric artist and toy designer - who runs the SoulPlay studio to this day.

Meet Zoë Nepgen

Zoë was raised by parents who valued imagination, creativity, and play. As a little girl she was captivated by nature, loved nostalgic keepsakes, and enjoyed making things which expressed her love and brought joy to others. It was from this pleasure of making and giving that Soulplay was born.

The first SoulPlay dolls were made in 2001 as a little passion project and placed in one small shop. The prototype dolls immediately flew off the shelves, into the arms of loving children who took them home and cared for them. Zoë started sewing her next batch of dolls, unaware that she was taking the first step on a 20+ year journey of spreading joy through play.

New designs and fabrics have been introduced each year. Initially Zoë made big, dress-able dolls, and then little girls, boys and baby dolls. A few years later, mermaids, fairies, angels, and unicorns were added to the mix, making the SoulPlayshop displays and market stalls full and colourful.

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How SoulPlay Started

Led by her driven nature and business mind, Zoë set out to learn more and expand her skillset. She began doll making lessons with Heike Prince, the Waldorf Doll Maker at Constantia Waldorf, who took Zoë under her wing for what she can vividly remembers(with gratitude) Hike to be a very strict teacher! Soon after, Lella Daubenton, an inspirational fantasy doll maker in Cape Town moved overseas for a few years and suggested that Zoë to fill the gap.

After five years of doll making in her home workspace was feeling a little cramped, Zoë built a stand-alone studio to give Soulplay a bigger space to thrive in. The Soulplay Studio is in a forested garden in Constantia, Cape Town along the upper section of the Alpen River. It is a magical space comforted by pots of tea, soothing music and dappled light through the trees that falls golden and blurred on the sewing workstations. The workshop is a place where practical magic is born stitch-by-stitch.

Letter of Thanks

"Such thanks and gratitude must go to my mentors, Tim Mansfield, Heike Prince, Lella Daubenton, Helen Untiedt, and Sandra Bold as well as to my ever-supportive parents Johanne and Sue Nepgen. Thank you for your guidance, direction, encouragement, and for being great role models in both life and business. My heart is so full of gratitude to each of you for the important essential gifts you gave me along the way.

I will always have huge gratitude for the wonderful nine years Lisa Dawes worked in SoulPlay before she went on to study to become a teacher. I feel blessed to have worked side by side with such a fine, dedicated and gentle soul for so many years.

Thanks must also go to Tristan Gredley, Marc Coppin, and Vicky Welham (current) for your magic help with graphics, website development and online wizardry over the years."

with Love from Zoe