Saffron Jackson simply wasn't impressed.
After scouring through the selection of dolls, the 38-year-old mother just couldn't find dolls that catered to her culture and upbringing. "All the black dolls I have seen were from America and most of them were either ugly or not to my liking. I thought, 'why not create my own doll?'"
Thus, the birth of Toya.
Adorned in a dress paying homage to the color on the Jamaican flags, curly natural hair, full lips and doe-like eyes, Toya is just what the market's missing. Catchphrases like "wah gwaan", "what happen", and "Me name Toya and me a wah Zuree doll from the beautiful island of Jamaica!" are laden with Caribbean culture.
"The idea behind this is to show little girls that regardless of their skin tone or hair texture, they're indeed beautiful," Jackson says. "Hence, the name Zuree. It comes from Swahili and it means beautiful."
While Toya is the currently the only doll on Zuree's roster, her success has been nothing short of monumental. Both domestic and international sales have been taking the market by storm, surprising Jackson constantly. "People love that it speaks Jamaican. I've been getting sales from Australia, Estonia, Amsterdam, Germany and all these places, which show there is a massive demand for our culture." Just last month, Jackson says she easily surpassed 400 orders this holiday season.
In an age where representation is so vital to the development of young minds, especially in regards to self-love, pride and aspirations, the Zuree brand and Toya are revolutionary. Each doll that's created essentially carves a space within the industry, simultaneously providing positive and relatable imagery that young girls and boys can identify with. While sales (the dolls is listed around $52) are always an added plus, Jackson believes it's more than that. Her brand "aims to promote cultural diversity as we believe all girls are 'beautiful' regardless of skin tone or hair texture."
Saffron Jackson's goal to have the doll featured in stores around the world.