From the Media Capital, to the Global Ethiopian Community
Sunday November 19th 2017

EthiDolls: Telling the stories of African women leaders

“We want to show a positive aspect of Africa. It’s important to know people of African descent did not begin in slavery, we come from Africa where there are proud and inspirational rulers, some of which are women.”
Patti Gindoff, Senior Vice President of Marketing, EthiDolls

EthiDolls, established in 2003 and based in New York City, is the maker of the eye catching Queen of Sheba Doll, Makeda.  Makeda comes fully dressed in hand-woven hager lebse and even has tattoos on her neck.  Patti Gindoff is the Senior Vice President of Marketing for EthiDolls.  “My job is to garnish as much exposure as possible. I do that by getting in touch with newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations,” she explains.  EthiDolls has been featured  on CW11, BET J, Forbes.com, Addis Fortune and The Star-Ledger, Ebony, and Uptown Magazine  to name a few.  “The two co-founders, Salome and Yeworkwoha, came up with the idea to create dolls because they wanted to tell the world about African women rulers from history,” she says.  “They wanted to do something educational and entertaining,” she adds.  Salome Yilma is the Chief Executive Officer for EthiDolls and Yeworkwoha Ephrem is the Executive Vice President.  Yeworkwoha is also owner of two Ethiopian restaurants, Ghenet, in Manhattan and Ghenet Brooklyn.

An illustrated book and audio book can be purchased along with Makeda, The Queen of Sheba Doll and Queen Mother Yaa Asantewaa of the Asante Doll.  “The stories and life journeys of these rulers are told from the point of view of an African American grandfather telling these stories to his granddaughter.  Storytelling is an art that is still practiced today,” says Patti.
“We wanted to have it familial with an extended African American family; so we decided it would be nice to have a grandfather of African descent tell the story to his granddaughter.”  As the story of Makeda is being told, krar, an ancient Ethiopian stringed musical instrument, plays in the background.

Ghanaian music also plays in the background as the story of Yaa Asantewaa is told.  “Our African Heritage Signature Collection is a complete package because anyone can make beautiful dolls. What we have is something educational and fun.”
To ensure that the products are culturally authentic, and in keeping with principles of fair trade, Salome traveled to Ethiopia and had the material for Queen Makeda’s dress hand woven.  When Salome told the weavers what measurements she wanted for the 16″ doll, they were quite amused at her unusual request. “They thought she had been away from home too long.”  However they complied and after the dolls were made, Yeworkwoha went to Ethiopia with the dolls and the weavers were both delighted and proud.

While EthiDolls sells dolls, Patti points out they are not a doll company.  “EthiDolls designs culturally authentic products for our African Heritage Signature Collection. Anyone can produce beautiful dolls; our aim is to provide role models of strong African women rulers for young African-American girls and their multicultural playmates.” EthiDolls is happy to report doll collectors nationwide and overseas have also embraced their products. To grow their collection, EthiDolls is crisscrossing Africa and choosing female rulers from history to celebrate.  “We started with Ethiopia because that’s what we know best. We selected the West Coast of Africa to celebrate Queen Mother Yaa Asantewaa of the Asante, now modern day Ghana. Our next storied doll will probably be from the Southern regions of the African continent.” she says.  “When choosing rulers, EthiDolls looks for inspirational, remarkable, and strong women we feel today’s youth will be able to aspire to.  Makeda and Yaa Asantewaa did so much when it was not easy.”  In fact Makeda, who ruled the ancient kingdom of Sheba, traveled a long and difficult journey to Jerusalem to learn of the wisdom of the great King Solomon. In 1900, Yaa Asantewaa, at the age of 60, led the Ashanti rebellion known as the War of the Golden Stool against British colonialism. “We want to show a positive aspect of Africa. It’s important to know people of African descent did not begin in slavery, we come from Africa where there are proud and inspirational rulers, some of which are women.”

EthiDolls products are available in a number of retail stores including Hue-Man Bookstore & Cafe in Harlem, United Nations Bookshop, American Museum of Natural History and select African-American museum shops nationwide.  They can be purchased through various online stores at www.ethidolls.comwww.dollslikeme.com,www.sisterhoodboutique.com,www.blackdollstolove.com,

Makeda, The Queen of Sheba Doll with Doll Stand and Queen Mother Yaa Asantewaa of the Asante Doll with Doll Stand are available for $139.00 each. Makeda’s crown is $10.99.  Makeda, The Queen of Sheba’s Illustrated Storybook and Audio Book combination is available for $25.00.  Queen Mother Yaa Asantewaa’s Illustrated Storybook and Audio Book, also $25.00, is coming soon and can be preordered by phone at 845-290-1561.

For more information on EthiDolls, visitwww.ethidolls.com.

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