For many years, ethnic diversity (or the lack thereof) in the toy industry has been a hot topic. But now people are taking a stand, and making dolls and toys that are representative of the multi-ethnic world. Nigerian businessman Taofick Okoya is one of the people who has found a way to challenge the existing ideals of beauty and ethnicity with his range of ethnic dolls called Naija Princesses.
The dolls are tailored to local tastes and feature African characteristics such as thicker hair textures in various styles, fuller facial features, and traditional, colourful outfits and headdresses. The dolls are designed as a representation of Nigeria’s three largest groups: Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. Unfortunately, they still have very skinny bodies. Okoya says his early doll samples had bigger bodies, but the children didn’t like them.
“For now, we have to hide behind the ‘normal’ doll. Once we’ve built the brand, we can make dolls with bigger bodies.”
Last year, Okoya sold between 6?000 and 9?000 dolls a month, outselling the Western competition, Barbie, across Nigeria.
It is reported that Okoya is also in the process of inking a deal with South Africa’s Game, owned by Massmart and part of Walmart, to sell his dolls in 70 shops across Africa.