Meet Karolina Merska

Meet Karolina Merska

Born and raised in Poland, Karolina Merska grew up in a world filled with colour and creativity. Inspired by traditional folk art, in 2015 Karolina started creating her own pająki, a traditional polish chandelier handcrafted from straw and decorated with pom poms. The decision to sell her pieces came easily, as there was quickly a demand for her colourful and unique household decorations, each telling a story of a rich craft history. We were lucky enough to visit her studio, a treasure cove of pająki, pompoms and quirky folk art. We left feeling truly inspired!


Can you tell us a little more about what pająki is and what you particularly love about it?

Thank you for visiting my pająki studio. I think Pink City Prints with its vibrant colours fit so perfectly here! Pająki are traditional Polish chandeliers made from rye straw, decorated with paper pompoms or flowers. Originally, they were made by women after harvest to decorate their cottages for Christmas and other important celebrations like Easter, wedding and christenings. People believed that pająk would bring good luck and happiness as well as good crops in the following year. 


What inspired you to take the leap and bring the pająki craft to England?

Unfortunately, pająki became forgotten in Poland. I thought they were so unique and my idea was to bring them back to life. London is a great city with its multicultural craft so it was perfect to start here. I never dreamt I would publish a book about pająki. But it happened, so this craft will never be forgotten!


What have been some of the highlights of running your own business so far?

Since I opened my shop Folka in 2019, I have loved presenting unique folk art and sharing stories about my favourite artists and traditional customs. It’s amazing to be able to share Polish folk craft to a wider audience. Also, I have met so many interesting and inspiring people - on a shop floor or virtually. We’ve created such a lovely community together. 


What have been the challenges and how have you overcome these?

I think one of the biggest challenges was working as a freelance artist and running my business at the same time. I felt overwhelmed so often, the shop required my attention 24/7. It made me frustrated that I couldn’t find enough time to work in my studio on new pająki and other projects. 

Then, the recent years after the pandemic and throughout the cost of living crisis were very difficult for Folka. Running a brick and mortar shop became unsustainable. I closed down my shop last month, however Folka will still exist online. 

I still would love to share Polish folk stories but also I am planning to organise more of my folk excursions and various pająki workshops. I am excited about what the future will bring. 

Where do you draw inspiration for new designs?

I studied the history of art, I like to look for inspirations in the past - in other traditional crafts, paintings, architecture. Also, I love traveling and I always find it so inspiring. 


Why do you think it is so important to keep traditional crafts alive?

Traditional crafts are an important part of our history, our own cultural heritage. It’s sad to see so many crafts disappearing slowly. For me, a handmade traditional object has such a different value - with the story behind it becoming a narrative object for future generations. 

How would you describe your personal style and do you feel this has been influenced by Polish folk art?

Definitely. My love for folk influences my space as well as the way I dress. I need a big house which I can paint in many colours and feature my overgrowing folk collection surrounded by my pająki.  

I also collect traditional Polish folk costumes and I have a beautiful embroidered waistcoat. I like to wear it sometimes with a white t-shirt and jeans. 


What is your favourite Pink City Prints piece and how will you be styling it?

I love the Lime Jungle Margaret Jacket,  this vibrant combination of pink & green reminds me of a folk costume from Łowicz - a city in Poland famous for its folklore. I styled it recently with a plain dress and I felt great wearing it!

Follow on insta: @karolinamerska

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