I believe that all children deserve to see images of themselves in the products they engage with from an early age.

After years of pondering, I finally decided to start my own business. Just Like Me Toys is an online toyshop.

My name is Monica Smith.  I am an early years teacher and the founder of Just Like Me Toys.  We specialise in sourcing, commissioning and selling good quality black and ethnic dolls and accessories for children.

Why black dolls? 

I believe that every child should see images of themselves in the products they play with from an early age. 

I made sure that the first doll my daughters had reflected their image.  I was fortunate enough to find the dolls of my choice in 1984 and again in 1986 when they were born.  For me, this was necessary as their first doll.

Fast forward thirty years later, in 2013, I looked for a black doll for my niece's fifth birthday and could not find one in London, and had to get one from the US via the Internet.

Given that we live in an age dominated by visual images, a compelling medium, every child should be visible in the society they are in. 

So why are black dolls so scarce?

It is the twenty-first century, and the black population in the UK has increased.    

Why are black dolls so scarce? 

How is it that thirty years on and I still did not have a choice?

I wanted to know.  So, I turned to the Internet again to help me solve this concern.   This time to research dolls and doll manufacturers.   My research revealed that they are being manufactured, but most toy retailers did not believe it was a viable market and did not stock them. 

Another  common phrase encountered by black doll enthusiasts was that, 'BLACK DOLLS DON'T SELL.' 

I know that this was not the case.  I certainly wanted a black doll,  and many people I know also wanted one or at least have the opportunity to choose. 

My fear and in fact the concerns of many black people were the quality of the products, when we saw them that were available on the market.

In my effort to find good quality black dolls, I purchased several samples to assess the quality and read articles written by other interested parties expressing their concerns in other countries, including the US and Africa. 

I collected many endearing samples consisting of good quality, beautiful dolls that were not visible to the public at large. I wanted little children to see themselves in the products that they came across in local shops and stores.

I wanted VISIBILITY and I wanted CHOICE!

With the support of my daughters, I created a website and invested in my first order as a sample run, to test the market.

My aim was to find out if there was a market for black dolls. 

I launched the website in October 2015.  Despite having a website I was not satisfied.  I wanted the products to be visible so that children could see and touch and admire the dolls. A website in my opinion, could not bring the products to the attention of the public in the way shops could.   

Determined to promote and get public feedback and interaction with the products,  I approached three local craft/book shops.  They agreed to stock the dolls  on a SALE or RETURN basis. The shops loved the products and praised the quality which was a hit.  

By the Christmas 2015, I sold up to 80% of the stock purchased.   It was the confirmation I wanted.  They were the type of dolls I wanted to bring to the attention of the wider public. 

What followed?

I re-investment and began the rise of Just Like Me Toys as an online toyshop, with a wholesale ambition to enable the visibility of black and other ethnic dolls to the public.  

We now have a growing number of outlets stocking our dolls.  We continue to build the distribution part of the business whilst welcoming and serving you on our online shop.  

Thank you for visiting us.

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