It all started as an act of kindness.
Jen Seibold wanted to encourage a family who was living apart because of military service, so she handcrafted four small, personalized creatures to represent the parents and two children so they could feel a sense of togetherness despite the distance.
Soon, she began making customized creatures for others as a way to say thanks. They eventually evolved into SmiDjinns, which Seibold describes as a pocket genie designed to encourage and comfort. Each magical keepsake comes with an inspirational note on an old-fashioned library borrowing card, and with bespoke orders, the SmiDjinn and its story are finely tailored to the recipient.
“Sometimes it’s an awkward thing to show how much you care,” Seibold said. “(It can be difficult to say) the words I would love to say, but we give them a way to share that.”
Seibold creates the SmiDjinns with her fiancee, Kara Schmalz, in their Carmel home. They refined the idea and work on the product together.
“People need to be seen and loved,” Schmalz said. “We know a lot of people who have struggled, and you want to do something sweet and kind and uplifting for them.”
Seibold and Schmalz have full-time jobs as a landscaper and instructional assistant in a special needs classroom, respectively, so much of their work on SmiDjinns happens on the weekends or whenever else they can find time.
Paula Strauss, owner of Moo & Lou Frozen Treats and More, quickly became a fan of SmiDjinns. She is planning for her dessert shop to sell them when it opens this fall in its first brick-and-mortar location at 5645 N. Post Road in Lawrence.
“They are adorable, and I love the stories and different meanings each of them have,” Strauss said. “I feel that SmiDjinns may be just what someone needs to brighten their day.”
SmiDjinns provides a way for Seibold and Schmalz to stay in tune with their creative side. After studying theater design, Seibold lived in Los Angeles for 15 years, working on costumes for film and television productions. Schmalz, who played a season of tackle football with the Indiana Speed, studied at Herron School of Art + Design.
Seibold and Schmalz have created several lines of SmiDjinns, including holiday themed and astrological. No two SmiDjinns are exactly alike, and they can be customized even further through bespoke orders.
When making a bespoke SmiDjinn, Seibold asks several questions about the person who will receive it to get a full picture of the recipient’s strengths and struggles. They’ve stitched a tattoo that matches one on the recipient’s family members on the back of a SmiDjinn and have added meaningful trinkets to others.
“It’s very intimate details,” Schmalz said. “It’s not just about their struggles, it’s about their passions and what they love.”
One thing each SmiDjinn has in common: It wears a diaper.
“The SmiDjinn helps to collect the crap that we put out into the world and keeps from adding to it,” Seibold said.
Seibold and Schmalz initially sold SmiDjinns online but recently have shifted their efforts to primarily sell them through events, including the B-Town Krampus event Dec. 9 in Bloomington.
Learn more or place an order by emailing [email protected].
Anatomy of a SmiDjinn
SmiDjinns are pocket genies designed to spread kindness and inspiration to recipients. According to designer Jen Seibold, its features include:
- A diaper to collect negativity and keep it from spreading
- A button as an eye, sometimes with an “X” because everyone has imperfections
- A glitter vial to represent magic
- A charm to represent the SmiDjinn’s gift
- A bookmark message about the SmiDjinn, its purpose and power