Why did you decide to make these dolls?
I am passionate about the black child / child of colour and I wanted to create a product that will not only be fun but inspiring. Growing up I never had a doll, though I secretly hoped for one. In those days, there were only white dolls available and that is what was classified as beauty. With not having a doll, the next best thing was an orange fluffy owl that became my friend, my vault and model, since I was overflowing with creativity from a tender age.
So, end of December 2017 I came across doll make-over YouTube videos and I was hooked. I then collected dolls from second-hand markets but though they were pretty, they were white. I then, tried to re-colour one Barbie doll brown but I didn’t like the end result. After some research online, I decided to find black doll manufacturers and I was in luck.
From there onwards I designed the clothing and accessories form my three new black dolls with afro-hair, styled the dolls, did a home photoshoot, posted them on social media. The response was absolutely amazing and it was a validation that this could not only be a viable business but I will be making a difference in the world, in a small way.
Luvuthando Dolls was then open for business in January 2018...
Some of the highlights experienced?
- I have a lot of highlights to share but would require a whole book lol. To name a few:
- My first 3 customized dolls that I created for adult clients as collector pieces
- Being featured in the media, both print and TV
- Exhibiting the dolls at SARCDA Christmas Exhibition 2019, people that came by were mostly up to tears when they saw the dolls, they would kiss me, hug me or shake my hand and say, “Thank You!, Finally! Or your dolls are beautiful and it’s about time that black children are represented!”
- Seeing the looks on my nieces, nephews, siblings and mother, after they learnt that most of the dolls were named after them. Like Princess Nala - after my mom’s clan name; Prince Sihle – my nephew; Princess Sinentle, Princess Aya and Princess Minathi – after my nieces.
- Having been listed on Takealot.com and also with the Spar Group, meaning our dolls will be available nationwide.
- Meeting my Sales Director - Lihle Nkosi, and seeing how our passion for the brand is matched.
- And of course, the feeback pics, voicenotes and videos from clients and fans.
- All of this is humbling to me!
Why the name ‘Luvuthando’ for your company?
- Luvuthando which means ‘Feel The Love’, is a combination of my kids’ names Luvuyo and Uthando. My kids are my miracles, lifeline and my life. I gave birth to my sons at the age of 25, in the same year, so they are born 9 months apart. At the time I was just 4 years HIV positive. I felt blessed that regardless of the struggles and stigmas associated with the disease, I was able to give birth not to 1 but 2 healthy, intelligent and remarkable boys. I wanted my story and life to mean something and also create a legacy for them.