Hi, it is important that you know about Just Like Me Toys. We are a toy shop that specialises in black and ethnic dolls. We believe that all children deserve to see images of themselves in the products they engage with from an early age.
In our effort to combat this lack of choice we have decided to make black dolls our main focus.
Why black dolls?
Black dolls because:
- It is a unique market
- Availability is limited in stores
- It validates black children
- It is neglected and ignored by other businesses
- Overlooked by the toy industry
- Quality and choice available are poorer
- It inspires black children to embrace and celebrate their heritage with pride
- It help them to feel a strong sense of confidence in the world
Just Like Me Toys was founded by Monica Smith, a teacher by profession who became disillusioned when she could not find a black doll of her choice, for her niece's fifth birthday. She had previously encountered this lack in the 1980s when her daughters were born but managed to find black dolls in 1984 and later in 1986 from Hamley's Regent Street, London. In fact the dolls she purchased then were of better quality than the one she eventually purchased for her niece in 2013.
It was the lack of availability and choice that led her to investigate the toy industry further. She carried out her own research online, visiting stores, toy exhibitions and talking with friends,to find out why black dolls were so scarce. It revealed that black dolls were being made, all be it, in smaller quantity and were mostly available online. She also found out that the quality of the dolls being made were poorer with black dolls being depicted as ugly and made with inferior quality material. For example, materials that fade overtime revealing grey or at times dark green skin tone. Those of you who have worked in nursery classes may recall seeing these discoloured black dolls. She also found articles published in the US, and Africa echoing the same concerns as the UK. Indeed, there was a growing demand for better quality and more choice for black consumers from the toy market.
It was during this period when she had collected and selected samples of dolls from European and of course Chinese manufacturers, and had found dolls of greater quality and beauty being made to compliment the black image, that she decided to start her doll business. She felt that these dolls need to be seen. In late 2014, approximately two months before Christmas Just Like Me Toys was launched. The intention was to test the market. The products were well received in the shops where they were placed, confirming her belief that the dolls needed to be seen in order to be appreciated for their quality and for consumers to have the opportunity to choose.
As well as having good quality products and being able to choose, the benefits children get from seeing and engaging with products that they can identify with is equally as important. It validates children, giving them as sense of belonging, develop their self-esteem, teach them to appreciate, respect and celebrate their heritage with pride. It allows other children to engage in imaginative play with dolls that resembles their friends.
Just Like Me Toys thank you for reading about us. We appreciate your comments.
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