This article originally appeared on VICE Netherlands
Coloured Goodies is a small toy store in the Van der Pek district in the north of Amsterdam, which has stepped in to fill a pretty big gap in the toy market. Shop owner Ellen Brudet believes it to be the first store in Europe that exclusively sells dolls of colour. In addition, Coloured Goodies offers customers the chance to pick up dolls that look like they have albinism, or vitiligo.
A little over a month ago, Ellen received an significant endorsement when The Game posted a photo on Instagram showing his daughter holding her custom-made Goodies doll, based on the model and activist Winnie Harlow, who has vitiligo. His post led to the store receiving a sudden wave of orders.
I dropped by Coloured Goodies to speak with Ellen and find out how the shop came about.
VICE: Hi Ellen, how did you come up with the idea for the shop?
Ellen: Growing up, my mum always told me that I was beautiful and I had gorgeous hair. She would remind me that people were so jealous of my skin colour – they sunbathed for hours just to look like me. It always annoyed her that there were no toys that I could identify with – they were all white.
Though my mum has passed away, her words have stuck with me. When I had my own two kids and there still weren't many toys on the market that they could see themselves in, I decided to design a few myself. But it wasn't until I took a business course that the store started taking shape.
So what's the philosophy behind the concept?
Goodies is about offering young people of colour a range of toys that they can identify with, and we're also about educating people on different identities and cultures. Our customers often spend hours browsing through the store, chatting with and learning about each other.
What was it like to hold the first doll you designed yourself?
I will never forget that moment. I was so ecstatic about the finished product that I couldn't help but do a little dance. The doll looked great, even though the first batch didn't have any hair – we later decided to add afros to them. The clothes you see on the dolls are made by our designer, too. We didn't just want a diverse range of skin colours, but we also wanted their outfits to represent a wide range of identities. So we've created dresses with African, Surinamese and Antillean prints.
Do you make the dolls yourself?
No, unfortunately I don't have my own factory here. They are made in partnership with manufacturers around the world, but mainly in Spain. It's my dream to eventually set up a factory in the Netherlands.
Finally, how did The Game end up in your store?
The Game's never been here in person, but we have a mutual friend who gave him a virtual tour of our shop through FaceTime. Afterwards, he told us that he wanted to get a doll for his daughter, so we custom-made it to his request and sent it to him. But posting about it on Instagram was entirely his own idea. I'm obviously grateful that he did, because it got us thousands of new followers.