Visibility is Key

Visibility is Key

Written by Lauren Watson,  Community Development Project Manager, ChallengeELBA

This year’s Black History Month theme is ‘Celebrating Our Sisters’. It’s an opportunity to recognise the pivotal role that Black women have played and continue to play in shaping various aspects of society. Black women have been leaders, activists, artists, educators, and innovators in their respective fields, and a leader in our local community, is Monica Smith – founder of Just Like Me Toys.

Just Like Me Toys is the home for black and ethnically diverse dolls with a collection of children’s dolls, doll clothes and, more recently, jigsaw puzzles with Black characters.

Founder Monica Smith felt it was increasingly important that children see images of themselves in the products they engage with from an early age, to ensure they develop self-love from the beginning. After trying to source a Black doll for her niece, Monica found it more difficult than in the 80’s to purchase one!

Dolls either had to be purchased online and shipped from overseas or they were significantly more expensive. This led to Monica engaging in her own research to find out why Black dolls were not as readily available as their counterparts. From this, Monica launched Just Like Me Toys in October 2015, initially selling dolls online and then followed up by distributing dolls to other local toy shops, which was a huge hit as, by Christmas that year, Monica had sold 80% of stock in the shops. It became apparent that the issue wasn’t that ‘Black dolls don’t sell’ instead it was that they were not being seen.

Toys that resemble a child’s own racial, ethnic, or cultural background can have several important benefits such as representation, self-identification, promoting cultural connection and inclusivity, as well as allowing a space for social and personal development within play.

ELBA will be continuing to support Monica’s mission by purchasing toys to distribute to our community partners & young people they work with via the Toy Appeal 2023. If you would like to support our annual Toy Appeal this year, you can click here to find out how.

To stay up to date with the latest news, opportunities and success stories, please sign up to receive our monthly newsletter, here.

Recent Posts
Contact Us

Send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search