Ivory Coast toy company creates dark-skinned Black dolls for children in Africa

Frustrated by seeing store shelves in the Ivory Coast lined with almost exclusively light-skinned dolls, a designer created alternatives so local children could see themselves reflected. 

Ivorian designer Sara Coulibaly, created Naima Dolls – a brand of dark-skinned Black dolls for children – and the reaction from local people has been incredible. 

Produced in a workshop in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, the dolls are meant to provide better diversity for children and improve representation for African kids with darker skin. 

Five years on from her original brainwave, Sara’s company Naima Dolls now employs around 20 young women.

As a team, they now produce and package 32 different models of dolls, and they are currently dealing with a big Christmas rush. 

Our hope today is to give children the means to make good decisions,’ Sara said in her office in Abidjan, which is decorated with African masks and colourful wax prints.
I want them to be conscious of the fact that they are beautiful, that their culture is beautiful and their culture is rich, she added, referencing the widespread use of skin-lightening creams across Africa. The names of Sara’s dolls all come from different regions of Ivory Coast.

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