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Universally speaking: Bringing diversity into the balance of the UK’s toy shops

Narinder Kaur is the founder of Apne Dolls, a range of dolls designed with the UK’s population of British Sikh Indians at the heart of its story and product line.

Being a first generation British Sikh born to Punjabi, Indian parents, the question that has always plagued me is why there had not been a nice looking doll for second, third and fourth generation British Indians here in the UK.

I have been surrounded by kids playing with all different ethnicity of doll, largely white and black ethnicities, or they would enthusiastically explore the fantasy worlds with alien toys, or magic-inspired dolls, but never one that reflected the community closer to home.

Over time, the doll collections begun to reflect the worlds around them, all but our own. So, in 2017, we set about to create Satty, the first doll from our Apne dolls business.

The toy industry is a vast, vibrant business with the resilience to withstand more strains than other businesses. This is largely due to the outstanding educational benefits of imaginary play. The toy industry is a wonderful world of something for everyone, isn’t it? That’s what it purports to be, but is it really? It’s our aim to make sure that it is.

We want to cater for the some 450,000 British Sikh Indians in the UK, similar in Canada and the US, not to mention the more than 20 million in India and around the rest of the world. The benefits of multi-cultural representation in a multitude of areas of life have proven to increase self esteem and confidence, after all.

Like anything in life, we all like to have a choice, especially when it is for your children. The word Apne is a Punjabi word meaning ‘Our’, making them ‘Our’ dolls. Our dolls hope to redress the balance of variety on the toy shelves of the UK, withstanding equality in aesthetics, price point and toy safety standards. We hope to offer gifts to the currently unrecognised proud British Sikhs who have made the UK their home for the last 70 years.

As we offer little additional gifts that can be purchased alongside the Doll and book, it enables parents to tailor make their little gift bundle with a choice of greetings cards and personalised message to make it a truly unique experience for each child.

Our aim was to create something wonderful, inclusive, and to be proud of and that our children as a collective would love. With Apne dolls, we feel we’ve ticked those boxes

About Robert Hutchins

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