Home Doll industry WATCH | “Being brown is adorable! »Mom makes dolls to promote diversity in the toy industry

WATCH | “Being brown is adorable! »Mom makes dolls to promote diversity in the toy industry


  • Nondumiso Gogela noticed a lack of black and brown dolls in stores.
  • Gogela designed her first doll for her daughter in 2018.
  • She has since had over 400 orders.

When Nondumiso Gogela was pregnant, she frequented the shopping aisles filled with baby items as she prepared for her daughter’s arrival.

Although the aisles were filled with toys of all shapes and sizes, what struck her as odd was that there weren’t many dolls depicting people of color.

“At the time, I was looking for something for my daughter that was soft and cuddly, that she could grow up with,” Gogela told News24.

“I wanted to start instilling values ​​in her from an early age – whether she was brunette, had afro hair, was normal, sympathetic and adorable.

And that’s why, in 2018, she launched Imibongo kaMakhulu Handmade Dolls in Cape Town.

Nondumiso Gogela busy sewing the hair on one of her dolls.

News24 Bertram Malgas

Where it started

The name means “grandmother’s gratitude,” a name her grandmother gave the newborn baby, to illustrate the excitement of the matriarch.

It was only fitting that Gogela made the first doll for his daughter, who is now struggling to put the toy down.

Since then, Imibongo kaMakhulu Handmade Dolls has grown steadily.

They have made over 400 sales worldwide and it has a diverse customer base.

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“It was a pleasant surprise to find out that it is not only black and brown parents who buy dolls for their children, but also white parents – who may be white parents with biological children or adopted children,” she declared.

Some parents even buy two dolls so that their children can have a backup; just in case the doll needs to wash.

A range of dolls

The fact that parents pay more and more attention to the toys their children play with is encouraging for the businesswoman.

Its range consists of several dolls – of different shapes and sizes.

Gogela makes each doll by hand, from dyeing the fabric to closing the final packaging, before sending it to customers.

Nondumiso Gogela

Some of the dolls in the Imibongo kaMakhulu handcrafted doll range.

News24 Bertram Malgas

More choice

While there is a push to change representation in the toy industry, Gogela believes more can still be done locally.

“We want choice. We don’t just want a black doll on the shelves and five hundred versions of white dolls. We want a variety of dolls to choose from.”

She hopes to expand her business internationally and market the dolls in more stores locally in the future.

“I would like the business to grow enough to employ one or two more people, to help make the dolls.”