What is the difference between a souvenir and a souvenir? Nowadays, the word has a corny connotation, but if you think about it, you can refer to two very different things: the first is fridge magnets and other products promoting the country’s image you buy at fairs, but if you keep your eyes open, you can also find souvenirs that have a soul—or at least represent the true values of the region in every detail. The Ślady Szlachë is a strong player in the latter category, showing how ornaments and handicrafts can be a way of revealing the true treasures of a forgotten region.
Claudia Elwart and Martyna Wasilewska-Wajde met five years ago and soon realized that they could combine their passion for local culture and art in a project—the aforementioned souvenir shop Ślady Szlachë, which sells unique handcrafted products from Poland’s Hel Peninsula.
But what makes them so interesting? Ślady Szlachë not only combines local characteristics and a unique artistic perspective, but also captures the distinctive atmosphere that evokes the Baltic Sea world—at once cold and warm, at once colorful and simple, so playful, yet still with a sense of a thousand years of craft tradition.
What it’s really like to live here, however, is best reflected in the words of Claudia and Martyna:
“Living by the Polish seaside is definitely one of the exceptional ones. The summer season lasts here for several months, we go barefoot, we swim on boards, and we have the pleasure of having access to the sea and a bay with some of the best conditions for kitesurfing. Then winter begins when there are silences, and to be honest I like these silences the most.
Walking along the shore of the sea that is all yours, gives a feeling of uniqueness. People still can’t appreciate that, but hope so it is just a matter of time.
We are doing our best to show people that this place has much more to offer if we provided that we use it wisely—this year, for example in winter, there was a competition, COLDWAVES by Porsche.”
The website features a selection of prints, ceramics, and other handicrafts by Claudia and Martyna, as well as other local artists, each with their own message and style. The collections are quite small—sometimes really just a few pieces. The main ars poetica of the project is regionalism, encouraging customers to learn about regional culture and its creators, and paying attention to the precious objects that are made with heart and soul.
“We are looking for and presenting craftsmen, especially those who perform forgotten professions, for example, embroidery, sewing, and boatbuilding. Apart from that, the most important thing that makes them unique is their own personality and story that’s for sure. We are doing our best to disenchants the craft at the Polish seaside and show that a souvenir can be valuable, pretty, but it can also have a story behind it,” they explain their concept.
The two masterminds are proud of their quirky magnets and the Baltic Sea graphics they created at the start of the business, which are also featured on some of the packaging—and for more treasures, keep exploring the webshop.