A doting mum has made the ‘world’s first’ Jamaican Patois-speaking doll – so her daughter can have a toy she relates to when she grows up.
Saffron Jackson, 38, came up with the idea after shopping for toys when pregnant with now one-year-old Billie-Rae.
After noticing the lack of diversity on the shelves and struggling to find any black dolls on the market, the secondary school teacher, who moved to London from Jamaica 15 years ago, decided to make her own.
Toya has dark hair, eyes and Afro hair and recites five phrases in Jamaican patois which Saffron hopes will teach children about their heritage.
She believes that while there are a few black dolls accross the world, none speak Jamaican Patois.
The lines cover food, music and the country’s culture, for instance: “Me name Toya and me a wah Zuree Doll from di beautiful island of Jamaica. We have di best beaches and sunshine all through di year.”
The dolls have been on sale since November and already Saffron has sold over 400, taking orders from the UK, US , Australia, Estonia, Holland and Germany.
She believes there is a huge demand for Jamaican culture at the moment and is expecting the doll to be popular among a wide variety of ethnicities.
Saffron said: “I wanted her to have something that reminds her of her culture and heritage, so the doll is unusual in the fact that it talks about food and music and how beautiful the country is.
“I never had a black doll when I was growing up, even in Jamaica it’s still the same and the majority of toys are white.
“I always wanted a black doll and something that looked more like me.
“The doll isn’t based on myself or my daughter but it is as close to the average black kid as possible, I wanted it to look appealing and attractive to them.
“My daughter is only 13 months old so she can’t really appreciate it at the moment but hopefully she will do soon.
“Financing the idea was an issue but I was lucky to have the support of a few family members who believed in my vision.
“It was not easy as most manufacturers are used to big orders of white dolls, but I got there eventually.
“At the moment I’m just taking orders myself for the dolls but my aim is to get them in the shops this year.
“You have Disney’s Princess Tiana out but with her long flowing hair she is just not representative of the average black child, and I want to see more diversity in shops.
“I want them everywhere in Jamaica, and I’ve already had a few orders.
“My target market is obviously Jamaican and afro-caribbean children, but I’m expecting the doll to appeal to anyone who has an interest in the country and its culture, things like reggae music are really popular in the UK.”
The dolls sell for £50 each.