Imelda, is a no fuss kind of woman, who has raised four (now grown) children on her own, through some pretty tough circumstances. She has made African dolls and children’s toys since 1983. With no formal education, Imelda had to find a way to provide for her four children. She heard of a lady teaching the art of doll making and the idea stayed with her. Although the workshop was a long way from home, she decided to travel each day (a four hour round trip) and learnt the the art of doll making. A lifetime career was born as she discovered that she felt great behind a Singer sewing machine and had an eye for detail.
She was employed by the this lady and worked for 20 shillings per doll! Although this was not enough money, she had no alternative, and stayed with the workshop for the next 10 years.
After 1o years of leaving her children and home for the day at 5am and returning in the evening at 7pm, she decided to brave it and go out on her own. In 1994, Imelda started her own business making soft toys for children, selling them into the local markets. With many bumps along the way, she now works along side three of her children – all employed within and supported by her business!
Although English is Imelda’s second language, she speaks of her journey with pride and her eyes sparkle as she explains how she has passed on her skill set to the next generation. A woman of intriguing duality – tough, also soft – determined yet maternal – brave and courageous yet somehow timid. All we know is that we’ve got a tonne of respect for Imelda. If her children are anything to go by, she has provided beautifully for them! An inspiration for the Tinkered by team.
Soft Toy Delight
The Nakazzi family strive to make the best quality doll on the Kenyan market. Their Mamma dolls are truly beautiful down to the last detail. With baby on back (a separate doll), they are both dressed, with head scarf and Kanga wrap to hold baby on the back – all removable! Her Noah’s Arc’s include Noah and his wife and five of Africa’s favourite animals. All sitting in an arc with a removable roof. Gorgeous gifts for children with a great background story.
Imelda and her family are very excited to have their products on the international market. As with many self employed creatives in Kenya, the biggest challenge for their businesses is sales and these guys are ready and keen to increase production.