Seychellois woman entrepreneur reviving handmade Creole dolls
In days gone by most Seychellois children, well, most girls, owned a rag doll. The dolls were made with leftover cloths sewn together with buttons as eyes and where other facial features were embroidered. This was in the days long before the market was flooded with all sorts of factory-made imported dolls like the Barbie.
Monia Florentine of Mo’s Dream Creation has developed a new line of Creole dolls with a twist – using recyclable materials – which she said is aimed at reviving the dying tradition of locally made dolls.
SNA caught up with Florentine, who launched her business last year, to learn more about her business, which she started with a grant from the Tony Elumelu Foundation.
SNA: How did it all start, you and entrepreneurship?
MF: Actually my journey as an entrepreneur has just begun in 2020. Last year I was still working at my business ideas, deciding which of my several ideas I will embrace as well as concentrating on my training with the Tony Elumelu Foundation.
In the past, I have been doing several artistic works on a part-time basis, such as tourist attractions, handbags, purses, jewellery, dry and fresh flower arrangements, and flower pots with recyclable stuff. In fact, I am talented in various things. I am always creating new things especially recyclable ones. I am actually working on my paper beads jewellery designs and other recyclable materials for jewellery which are yet to be materialized.
But as of this year, I will be launching my custom-made evening and bridal gowns business whereby I will be targeting ladies only, especially ladies with non-standard body sizes. I am not being biased, but I want to specialize in one domain, compared to other competitors. I understand the need to generalise here in Seychelles due to lack of business at times but I am convinced it will work for me. Through what I have acquired through my training I know I can and I will.
I love to see women dressed up beautifully, elegant and feel sure of themselves in their dress, as my motto goes, “Happiness is your Choice, Be Bold and Elegant”. It has taken me 26 long years to stop dreaming and implement my dream and I know there are no turning back now.
Children can use them as play dolls. They can comb their hair, as they are real hair and enjoy their dolls. (Monia Florentine) Photo License: All Rights Reserved
SNA: Creole dolls where did this idea come from?
MF: The idea of making creole dolls came at the beginning of last year. Upon leaving my job as an Office Manager to a private law firm end of 2018. I decided it was time to venture into my own business in view that I am talented in creating various craft and other things.
So one day I was searching the internet, I found out that you can make small fairies using wires. I said why not use wires to make my own Creole dolls. As there were some wires that remained after the completion of our house and are being wasted. I said why not give it a try.
And they turned out to be beautiful. Actually they are keyring dolls that can be used by both little girls and women alike for their bags. Children can use them as play dolls. They can comb their hair, as they are real hair and enjoy their dolls.
SNA: What makes your dolls unique to the islands?
MF: For now my dolls are not 100 percent Creole as some people would prefer. They told me that I should make them wearing traditional clothing like in the “kazak and penwanr”. But I love fashionable modern dolls. This is my inspiration so I make what makes me happy. But to satisfy others I am working on some dolls in traditional wares and will post them on my FB business page very soon. But I believe if a doll has been made in Seychelles by a Seychellois, it is a Creole doll. The same goes for everything that is produced here in Seychelles. But I am reviving something that most of the younger generation do not know of.
SNA: How are the dolls made?
MF: Whenever I produce my craft item I like to use recyclable materials to cut production costs and at the same time thinking of the environment. And in the future, if I will continue to make dolls I will try as much as possible to make them out of used wires. Aside from cutting costs on raw materials, this will be an advantage for the environment as we know that those wires are not biodegradable and will have a negative impact on the environment in the future.
For that, I use old electrical wires which need to be untwisted and which is also time-consuming and takes like three hours. I also make their clothing, and other accessories down to their unique shoes.
They are keyring dolls that can be used by both little girls and women alike for their bags. (Monia Florentine) Photo License: All Rights Reserved
SNA: Where can the dolls be purchased?
MF: For now am working from my home-based business at Port Glaud – Morne Blanc – so everything has to be ordered. The dolls are being sold at $22. Clients can check out Mo’s Dream Creation’s on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/pg/MoniaFlorentine/posts/ for different models and where they can also place their orders.
Source: Seychelles News Agency