“We don’t look at the dolls as a toy. We look at the dolls as a tool. It is an educational tool. It is a tool that black children will use to empower themselves.” – Caroline Hlahla
When her business partner’s two-year old daughter asked for a peg and pillowcase so she could have long, flowy hair and a pointed nose, just like her dolls — they knew that they had to do something! Caroline Hlahla and her business partner Khulile Vilakazi-Ofosu set to work to figure out how they could help young African girls to embrace their natural beauty, and be comfortable in their own skin.
The two had started Bounce Essential Hair one year earlier, focused on selling 100% natural textured hair extensions for black women.
In 2016, Caroline and Khulile launched Sibahle Collection. The brand names comes from the Zulu word which means ‘we are beautiful’. They wanted the dolls to represent the beauty of black children.
The dolls, which are vanilla scented, come in a variety of skin tones and with different textures of hair.
“What we really need to do is to address the problem up front and get our children dolls that look like them — that their features look like them, their hair looks like theirs — so they can really just embrace their natural beauty.” – Caroline Hlahla
But the journey has not been easy. In this episode, Caroline shares some of the challenges they’ve faced along the way, and the reaction they’ve received to the dolls since launching the collection (hint – their dolls have sold out multiple times!)
“What I used to be afraid of when I first started this venture was failure. But I’ve learned through failure, I have grown so much more.” – Caroline Hlahla