Not too long ago Alora Jewelry (my business) went to Etsy Made in Calgary. I’m sure most of my readers are aware of what Etsy is, but for those who are new, I will explain. Etsy is an online marketplace that features handmade goods. They had a one-day market that we participated in. When I stopped by to drop something off, I spotted the cutest dolls across the aisle.
Black Dolls with Natural Hair
I looked up and saw a sign that said ‘Konjo Handmade‘. Upon Facebooking the owner, she let me know that Konjo means ‘beautiful’ in Amharic, one of the languages spoken in Ethiopia. She went on to mention that she made these dolls because
in 2011 we adopted our son from Ethiopia. Along the journey of our adoption, we met other families that were adopting from there as well. When we were going to meet up with a couple of the other families-I wanted to bring them some gifts. I thought that their daughters would really like a brown doll-so I started to look in my near by city at the big box toy store. I looked across the isles they had for a cute brown doll, with no luck, asking an associate that worked there. She came back with ONE doll, and honestly it did not look brown AT ALL! It really bothered me that little girls couldn’t get a doll that looked like themselves. I then came across a pattern to make a doll (from sewmuchado.com)–I thought ‘if I can’t buy a cute doll, I’m going to make a cute doll!’ I took a photo of the dolls I had made, other Mom’s commented that if I started to sell these dolls they would buy them. I contacted the designer of the pattern and received permission to start selling these dolls!! I think my dolls are beautiful ‘Konjo’-just like the little girls (and boys) that I make them for!!
She is so right! There are almost NO brown/black dolls on the market. Even if there are semi-dark ones they all have straight hair. I love these dolls because the skin tone is very similar to my daughter’s and they have the cutest little twists.
Why Black Dolls are Important: Representation Matters
Black dolls are important to me because I feel that my girls need representation in the toys that they play with. Children are like sponges. That is why they adhere to cultural norms and are, more often that not, hardline about certain roles that people can play. Many articles like The Guardian: “If she can’t see it, she can’t be it” and Wake Magazine: Why Does Representation Matter. My daughter’s having cute little black dolls can ensure that when they are making their dolls pretend to be astronauts or crusaders, they see themselves doing those things.
I Love Konjo Dolls
I really love these handmade dolls because there is attention to detail and they are well made. You can also change the doll’s little skirts for a bit of dress-up. Konjo dolls are also super affordable. Many black dolls can easily be $100+ on Etsy, but these dolls were only $45!
I recommend you check out her Etsy shop for any holiday shopping!
Jennifer (the owner) even makes legit Green Lantern Dolls!