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Saffron Jackson, the founder of the company behind Zuree Dolls, on making identity and culture child’s play.

Finding toys that reflect today’s multicultural world can present parents with a challenge.ReConnect Africa spoke to Saffron Jackson about Zuree Dolls and how her innovative products are promoting diversity and culture.

ReConnect Africa: What was the inspiration behind setting up Zuree?

Saffron Jackson: My daughter was the inspiration behind the dolls after I went shopping and realised there were practically no black/ethnic dolls in the High Street shops.

ReConnect Africa: Why do you think it’s important that young people see dolls like yours?

Saffron Jackson: I think it is very empowering when young people see dolls that look like them and represent their ethnicity or their culture. It also helps to develop their self-confidence in a society which dictates its concept of beauty.

We have a responsibility to teach our kids that they are beautiful with their dark skin tone and kinky hair, and that is the aim of my Zuree dolls. In fact, the word "Zuree" is a variation of the Swahili word "Zuri" which means beautiful.

ReConnect Africa: What has been your experience of the market for Zuree Dolls?

Saffron Jackson: My experience on the market has been awesome. I am truly grateful and overwhelmed with the support I have been receiving. It is a fairly new business and it has started off really well.

ReConnect Africa: What has been your experience of the market for Zuree Dolls?

Saffron Jackson: My experience on the market has been awesome. I am truly grateful and overwhelmed with the support I have been receiving. It is a fairly new business and it has started off really well.

ReConnect Africa: How are the dolls designed and what kind of phrases do they typically say?

Saffron Jackson: MThe dolls are designed to look attractive and as close to an average black child with rich chocolate skin and kinky hair texture. The Toya doll uses a number of popular Jamaican expressions, for example: " Waah gwaan? Weh u a sey? Mi a one Zuree doll from the beautiful ilan of Jamaica, etcetera.

The doll is unique in the sense that it uses its speech to promote its island of Jamaica as well as its culture. It says over ten different phrases, which is unusual for a doll like this.

ReConnect Africa: What kind of feedback have you been getting from parents about the Dolls?

Saffron Jackson: The feedback from parents has been truly motivational. I get lots of messages daily from parents who just want to show their appreciation and support for the dolls. It makes me realise that there was a massive gap in the market for a black doll like Toya.

ReConnect Africa: How did you choose which dolls to create and which phrases to focus on?

Saffron Jackson: Well, my aim is to create a variety of black dolls from different countries. However, it is very expensive to do so immediately, so I decided to start off using my country of origin so that my daughter will grow to love herself and appreciate her own culture.

ReConnect Africa: How can readers purchase a Zuree Doll?

Saffron Jackson: The dolls can be purchased at www.zuree.co.uk

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