Sophia van der Harst, back right, and her students at the Poekie Nook. Courtesy image.

Poekie Nook, the business longtime local resident Sophia van der Harst has built around the cute, pillowy stuffed animal that has inspired children to “create, craft and imagine,” is on the move, this time to Tam Valley – its fourth space in just two years because of its exploding popularity.

“I was shocked in the beginning – it was immediately a huge success,” ver der Harst says. “Kids just love the Poekie animals – they have become so popular. And I’m thrilled to get this new space.”

Poekie Nook is moving into 247 Shoreline Hwy., into the space formerly occupied by the Type A+ typing space. She’ll be hosting a Grand Opening celebration on Saturday, April 2 from 1–5pm preceded by an open house for neighbors from 12–1pm. The event will feature food from Good Earth Natural Foods in Tam Valley and a ribbon cutting ceremony from the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center at 1pm.

The Poekie Nook doll van der Harst created is the central piece of a sewing system that teaches kids a variety of skills. Poekie (rhymes with “spooky”) is a Dutch term of endearment used by many moms in Holland for their babies. In 1998, the Waldorf-trained van der Harst turned that word into a thing – and now the fulcrum of a booming business.

Prior to Poekie Nook, Van der Harst was perhaps best known locally as one of the founders of The Planet, the children’s drop-in day camp and activity center near Richardson Bay near Seaplane Adventures and the office buildings that house Glassdoor. Focused on interest-based learning, the center has long had a reputation for getting kids interested in an array of hands-on mediums, from sewing and jewelry-making to woodshop and myriad arts and crafts.

Van der Harst spent 20 years at the Planet and decided to leave and move back to Holland. An outpouring from parents and children convinced her otherwise, and she officially launched Poekie Nook in 2014 out of a space at Scout Hall, and later out of a space on Miller Ave., which she had to leave because she was drawing so many children that it was creating parking issues for the property owner. Then she was off to 238 East Blithedale, in an even larger space at the back of the building that houses Pharmaca.

As demand for the Poekie has increased, van der Harst has been expanding her line of Poekie kits, allowing children to print out patterns and create Poekies of their own. Van der Harst has also launched a series of after-school sewing classes by well-known local sewing instructor Pia Anderson. Those classes center on creating clothing and bedding accessories for Poekies.

“It’s been crazy and incredibly exciting – what a whirlwind,” she says.

The 411: Poekie Nook is moving to 247 Shoreline Highway, in the shopping center that includes Mathnasium.

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