Susan and Meshack started AfriKnit Dolls to design and manufacture African dolls at an affordable price. Their idea was to create dolls with African hairstyles and Kitenge fabrics that Kenyan children can identify with. These dolls not only fill a demand gap in the local market but also have a positive impact on environmental pollution, using leftover fabrics for stuffing and making the bodies and clothes of the dolls.
Afriknit dolls joined Somo’s Cohort 4 training. During the training, they gained knowledge about business modeling, learned how to pitch and networked with other trainees and advisors. The received feedback allowed them to refine their idea and start their own business.
Up to now, Susan uses a manual sewing machine for manufacturing the dolls. Since it requires a lot of physical energy, she is limited to a production of 5 dolls per day. For this reason, a major share of Somo’s investment has been spent an electrical sewing machine, more than doubling the production output per day. This is an important step to reach their vision of selling one hundred dolls per month. In that regard beginning of this month they also started renting a place to have more space available for production and storing materials. The place also offers enough room to start their training for interested individuals and the youth on how to make the dolls.
One of the first questions people normally ask Susan and Meshack is how they actually came up with this idea since they have never seen a similar doll like this before. The answer is they designed the dolls because they had extra fabric from their uniform business and found that there were no affordable dolls that their kids could relate to on the market. In general, people love the dolls since they are softer, more flexible, more affordable, more durable and less harmful than the plastic ones out in the market. Currently, their business is mostly based on local sales but they have begun to market to schools to introduce their dolls to their programs and parents of kids in the school. To this day, the dolls have not only found new homes in Kenya but also around the world in Brazil, Germany, the Netherlands, Peru, UK, and the USA.
If you want to get your own doll, visit our PopUp store in person or online: popupshopkenya.com