Winnie Mak and Rafael Tselikas live in London with their two-year-old son Alex. Mak is from Hong Kong and Tselikas is half-French half-Greek, they love the multicultural makeup of London and were disappointed that the dolls they could find were almost without exception white, blonde girls.
“We believe all children, both boys and girls, should have dolls that represent them, as well as dolls that look different from them so that they can grow up with a vision of being friends with people from around the world,” Mak told HuffPost UK.
“A lot of people don’t live in an environment as diverse as London, so by creating the dolls, we want to encourage parents to bring diversity home and to show it children in a way that they can understand.”
“When I first came to the UK, it was interesting to me to see how white people want to get sun tan where back in Asia or in Africa, people want to have fairer skin,” Mak explained.
“We think it is important for children to have a doll that represents them so that they can develop a secure self image. We believe having a mix of dolls can help children see the beauty in themselves and in others.”
The couple also want to challenge gender stereotypes that still prevent many parents from buying dolls for their sons (and many companies from making boy dolls).
“We understand that boys can have their own preferences in toys but dolls should be offered to them too without being judged,” said Mak.
“There’re a lot of emphasis on gender neutral toys in UK and US these days but it’s still not a socially acceptable thing for boys to play dolls in many places in the world.
“People want a loving partner, a caring father, or simply a considerate friend/co-worker, but we think somehow the toys offering to boys in the market don’t match our expectation of what we want them to be, so we want to encourage boys to play dolls too.”
The couple plan to eventually create a collection that represents the majority of ethnic groups as both boys and girls.
But due to budget constraints they’ve had to start small with just four soft dolls designs: Hope (African), Lea (European), Jun (East Asian) and Parth (South Asian), and a book about their adventure in London.
The dolls are recommended for children aged from 12 months old.
Mak and Tselikas are now fundraising on indiegogo to raise money for the production of the One Dear World dolls.
The couple feel passionately about the project because becoming parents inspired them to think more about the world they want to leave for Alex, and they know they want to do something that will have a positive impact on children.
Mak explained the “aha” moment that led to them funnelling their resources into One World Dolls.
“I was at a playgroup with Alex when a teacher showed us a caterpillar in a jar,” she said.
“One of the mums started panicking and the teacher reminded me how our reactions (however insignificant it is) can influence how children see the world, that was the “Aha” moment for me.
“I’m not scared of caterpillar personally and some people do, yet caterpillar itself is objective.
“I figured that it’s probably an idea planted in our mind when we’re little and we can actually make the world a better place through education about things we fear.”