The story of a Doll-Maker…
Hi everyone! I‘m Alisha I’m an arty-crafty mum of one and I’m the needle and thread behind Thimble and doll. As a self taught sewer, since the age of around 7 or 8, I’ve have always been crafty, finding things to make for family & friends.
The first dolls I made were for my nieces because they’d wanted soft dolls, with dark skin like theirs, but there was nothing similar in shops or online at the time (even today it's not easy to find). The girls loved their dolls and I got great feedback from them when I shared pics of them online. That’s when I realised that there was a need for dolls that reflected not only my family but the diverse multicultural society around us today and this is why diversity and representation have become core values of my business.
A few years ago, I opened a pop-up shop called Sugacandipop in Camden Lock, where I made and sold my dolls 7 days a week, with help from my sister and a good friend. The initial pop up was so well received that it stayed open for much longer than the intended 2 week pop-up period and only closed, after an unexpected 18 month run, when I was due to have a baby of my own. During my time off with my son, I continued within my professional background as a Playworker - working with children in after-school clubs and holiday play-schemes - specialising in arts and crafts, but longed to relaunch my doll business.
I recently relaunched under the new name of Thimble & Doll. My dolls are still designed, drawn, cut and handstitched by me but are now even more environmentally friendly, safety conscious & more diverse. I had initially started with 5 skin tones but have now doubled this to 10 beautiful shades and have gone on to take special commissions for dolls with unique features, such as birthmarks.
Why my project is important
Children learn through play, that’s why it is so important for them to see themselves represented in their surroundings and especially in the toys they play with. I create my dolls to empower and represent all ethnicities, in a simple and fun way and have been told that they are a great way to introduce diversity and inclusion to children.
I love it when children visit my stall, when I’m at a market or fair and they are able to pick up a doll that looks like them and parents love it too!
"Thank you for these beloved dolls, they're exactly what we had hoped for" Kacie
"Love the dolls! Went to Camden from Manchester to find them! My little sister loved her doll and I can't wait to order my next ones! xxx" Hannah
"Had a doll made for my daughter's 5th birthday, she loves it" Claudine
"Your dolls are so much more than just dolls, she's incredibly special to us, as she will be for a lifetime" Sophie
"Your parcel actually arrived on her birthday. Her whole face lit up and she beamed from ear to ear. That's a smile I felt had fadded. It was extreamly emotional moment. That alone I will always be externally gratful to you.
I honestly can't thank you enough. To see my beautiful girl smile again meant more than words could express. I will forever cherish that moment. You made a real difference.
It's safe to say that her doll has settled in well. She goes pretty much every where with her and they go to bed together every night since she arrived."
How your pledge will help
I'm crowdfunding to raise extra funds to allow me to expand my business and increase my representational product range, with the many new designs I have been working on including a new range of unique personalised décor.
It will also enable me to source and buym my doll skin tone fabric, in larger quantities – which is important because shades sometimes are discontinued by the manufacturers and can be very difficult to replace.
I currently book pop-up stalls at different designer maker markets in and around London and really enjoy meeting my customers, old and new; young and young at heart, in person. If successful, this crowdfunding campaign will also mean that I can attend larger events and designer maker markets, not just in London, but around the country – which will help spread awareness of my products.
Most excitingly for me, funds raised will not only allow me to grow a Thimble and Doll team, it will mean that I can begin to outsource the production of a number of items that I currently also make, such as (among other things) the presentation bags in which the dolls come and the cards that go inside my Doll Gift Boxes (which I currently design and print and cut myself!), as well as many other tasks that slow down my actual doll-making time – it’s not easy being a one woman band!
I have lots of new ideas and have had discussions about some very cool collaborations for the future, so please continue to follow and support me as the journey of bespoke diverse dolls continues.
You can follow me on Instagram Twitter and Facebook @thimbleanddoll
Check out my rewards to choose what you'd like to receive, in return for your pledge, or you can opt to make a reward free donation simply to support my crowdfunder.
I only have 28 days to hit my target amount and may even win extra funding from Natwest, too, BUT If I don't reach my target by 21st December, I will not receive any of the donations pledged. It's all or nothing!
THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO BE PART OF THAT JOURNEY, I hope you'll join me!