“Teddy…my son’s teddy bear, led to the birth of Umba Creations,” says Wangari, founder of this socially conscious, totally handmade line of crochet inspired dolls.
“Three months after he was born, I realized he didn’t have a teddy bear or comfort toy. I took one of the teddy bears my older daughter had, and placed it in his cot. Through me, Teddy would sing and speak to my son and I would use it to speak a blessing over him every night before he slept. Twelve years on, ‘Teddy’ is a huge part of our family. He has been stitched, re-stitched and is practically hanging on for dear life but the love relationship between the two is still as strong as ever!”
This, was the inspiration that pushed Wangari to want to create ‘Teddy’s’ with similar meaning behind them for other children, and so Umba Creations was born. Her inspiration behind the dolls design came from simple, children’s drawings, to which she added unique outfits, inclusive hairstyles, different vibes…basically a doll to fit any and every child! To add even more to the idea of creating products with meaning, the brand imbues each of their beautiful dolls with a positive value and message, giving a special feeling to each piece.
“Children learn to express themselves through play. I want to create an opportunity for them to have a toy that stands for something and in this case core values.”
Again, Umba Creations employs two local women artisans, Beatrice and Maureen, empowering them with a regular source of income and a livelihood. Through the brand, both have been able to improve theirs and their family’s lives and further their goals. Of her team, Wangari says;
“They make it possible for me to get more dolls out to more children as I could never do it alone!”
The dedication and intense concentration is clear as you stand in the bright, airy little workshop where they’re busy at work. Crocheting with a dexterity that’s nothing short of amazing, they hand-make each adorable doll, start to finish. Umba Creations also works with a third lady whenever they have sewing they need to outsource and gets their packaging from a social enterprise that’s employing and empowering women too. Why is the ethical aspect of the brand so important to her we ask?
“Life’s about being honest, treating others fairly, doing the right thing….that’s how I was brought up. I want to reflect that in what I do.”
With all that the brand is now, what are Umba Creations dreams?
“That people will look back years from now and say that Umba was instrumental in laying foundations in their lives as children, which played a part in shaping them into who they’ve become. ….through the dolls, a selection of toys, story book series and hopefully movies!”
From strong girls in overalls, to fun loving boys in shorts, you’ll love the entire Rafiki range of dolls. Handmade with a quality that’s sure to last, from a brand that’s ethical at heart.