Hello everyone! Samantha Ong here, founder and CEO of Joeydolls, and I’m excited to share the incredible experience I had chatting with Georgette Taylor on the “In the Doll World” podcast. It was an honour to unfold the story behind Joeydolls and how we created our World’s Most Diverse Asian Dolls, the cultural representation toys and empowering diversity, discussing inspiration, challenges, and how we went about creating a legacy of representation.
Podcast Highlights: The Genesis of Joeydolls
I shared the roots of Joeydolls, stemming from my journey as a wedding photographer and the transformative impact the pandemic had on my life. Becoming a mother during those challenging times ignited the spark to create dolls that break free from stereotypes, combating anti-Asian hate and empowering diversity.
The Evolution: Crafting with Love and Purpose
Georgette dove into the challenges we faced, from finding local doll designers to navigating budget constraints during a pandemic. I opened up about the meticulous process of authentically representing each culture, from selecting traditional dresses to choosing meaningful names. We explored the iterations each design underwent, highlighting my commitment to creating the most perfect cultural representation toy sand empowering diversity.
Community and Inclusivity: A Shared Journey
A key aspect of our conversation was the importance of community involvement. Engaging with our audience for input and feedback strengthened our bond and ensured Joeydolls resonated with a diverse audience. We discussed the significance of involving the community in the naming process, reflecting the cultural richness of each doll.
Spreading Joy and Building Understanding
Beyond creating dolls, I shared my aspirations to spread joy, foster a sense of identity, and promote understanding and acceptance. Heartwarming anecdotes revealed how Joeydolls have become companions and sources of comfort for children, embodying our vision of creating more than just toys. Cultural representation toys are so significant in helping foster a better world.
Honoring the Journey with Georgette
I expressed deep gratitude for the opportunity to share the Joeydolls journey with Georgette and the listeners. Georgette, equally enthused, acknowledged the impact of Joeydolls in challenging stereotypes, empowering diversity and creating a positive narrative for children.
Listen to In The Doll World Podcast: Creating a Legacy of Representation
In The Doll World Podcast Transcript
Georgette: Hello everybody and welcome to In the Doll World. I’m your host, Georgette Taylor, and as always, I’m so excited that you’re joining me today and so excited to bring some amazing new doll creators to our listeners. And today is no exception. Today we have Samantha Ong. She is the founder and CEO of Joeydolls. And I wanna welcome her to In the Doll World.
Samantha: Hi, thank you so much for having me.
Georgette: Thank you so much, Samantha, for joining me. I’m so excited to be able to have you share what it is that you do, talk about your dolls, because they are just precious. I absolutely love them. They’re just the cutest thing. And so would you just share with our audience, you know, where you’re from and how you decided to come up with this inspirational line of dolls? I think it’s beautiful.
Samantha: Yeah, thank you. So we’re based in Toronto and it really all began, I’m actually a wedding photographer. So… It was like during the pandemic where like I was really stripped of the ability to work. I wasn’t like, I had so many weddings cancelled. So I was stuck at home. I got her was actually turned out to be a blessing because when I, when you have a small business, you know, you don’t really like think to take maternity leave for yourself. And so I just went like straight in after having her giving birth to her. I went straight into working weddings, which was really insane. So this pandemic forced me to like really. reprioritize my life and I spend some time with her. And so as I was doing that, I was watching news of the pandemic and seeing anti-Asian hate really increasing significantly. I remember feeling sort of ashamed of my own, how I look, like potentially being scared about stepping outside, what people might think of me. I was seeing a lot of like, hate speech, you know, especially surrounding like spreading the virus where it came from and all of that. And also like a lot of what was talked about was like referring to Asians as sort of like one group. And you know, when you have a child, I really feel that you see the world through their eyes, but also you reflect upon your own childhood. And so when I was having all these thoughts, I thought Oh gosh, like I don’t want her to feel ashamed of being Asian or how she looks, just like I did when I was younger. I remember, um, you know, telling my dad like speak English or like, I was really, yeah, envious of my like classmates who were blonde and blue eyed. You know, those were the dolls that I played with. And I really do think that had such a impact on how I viewed myself in society, that I was always like the other. I was never like supposed to be the main character or someone that will be something in society. Like I remember thinking vividly to myself like I could never be a princess, I could never be like in Hollywood, I could never be someone of significance. And so track along doing you know just being the other person. Yeah, yeah, cool. And so. Also, of course, we were stuck in the pandemic, we were just all alone. So it was really myself and my daughter, my husband had to work the front lines, and you know, feeling very lonely. So that’s when I really thought, okay, let’s look for some dollars that she could feel comforted by. And I really wanted to look for dollars that she could see herself in. And so as I was looking, I couldn’t believe like how very little that was out there even to this day. Like you know we talk about diversity, we talk about representation and there’s just really not much out there. Of course there are a few but what I tend to see that was out there, there would be a whole range of dolls and then there’ll be that one token Asian doll and it tended to have you know stereotypical features and then you know fair skin, black hair and then somehow it was called Asian. And then even sometimes they weren’t even very Asian looking. They still looked very white.
Samantha: So I was like really disappointed in what I could see. I was, I personally couldn’t connect with them. I couldn’t feel proud to give that to my daughter. And so, you know, it was around the time where like she was one years old and it was her birthday, it was, we normally, um, we wanted to put her in her like traditional Asian outfit. So actually I’m Chinese Malaysian and my husband’s Korean. So. although we’re Asian, but we can, you know, the most specific. Yeah, Chinese, Korean, Malaysian. So, you know, we celebrate our culture through our outfits and through our food and all of this. But then I was like, we don’t do that through dolls. And so as I was looking and looking and I felt so frustrated, like, and my husband was just like, Well, if you can’t find any, why don’t you make one? I was like, oh, easy for you to say. Exactly, because I was like, I don’t have any experience. I don’t have any toy experience. I don’t have any fashion experience or like sewing experience like that at all. And so like, there was so much to learn. I just really came down to like, OK, if I want to do this for my own daughter, which was my primary goal at the time, like how many other children can I help through these dolls? And so I think that really propelled me in redefining my mission with creating the dolls, taking this ginormous hill of learning and workload. People think, it must be so fun and easy to make these dolls, but- It was a lot, a lot, a lot of work. And especially because I tried to spend my time with my daughter during the day, and I just look at it on me at night. Yeah. So, there were so many late nights and stuff.
Georgette: She was very happy when you started, right? Well, so let me, so share some of the challenges that you face in creating. It’s not just even a doll, but creating a line of Asian-inspired dolls.
Samantha: It was like not knowing how to sell. And so also I wanted to do it locally at first. And so I was trying to find like a doll designer initially, like locally. And then, you know, not being able to work for basically two years during the pandemic, I had a very small investment. Like I didn’t want to put so much of my own funds into it. So I was trying to do things very budget-conscious. Right. Exactly. because I didn’t have all this money to spend. And so I struggled with that initially, like the cost just went up really high. Also like finding the right materials. I thought it would be a lot easier to find like various skin tones that I could pick from, like various shapes of beige and, you know, browns and all this, like, but I couldn’t believe how hard it was. And that’s when I was like, okay, I had to take this overseas that had more variety and then if I needed to I could custom.
Samantha: Of course that still required like a large investment to do custom fabrics and all of that but it was just so much more I had access to more obviously.
Samantha: And definitely when it came to the cultural aspect like I remember being so worried about getting things right because I don’t want to offend anyone. I don’t want to pretend that I know what it is like to be Vietnamese or like what’s important for them. So there was a lot of design changes. So even though it took me like it’s been three years to the like until like when it’s November, I mean, three years as I like accepted this idea. But because of all the reiterations, I was able to like redefine what we were about and what was important for the doll to have. Whereas if I pushed out the doll that I had. years ago, like my initial idea, I don’t think I would have been very proud of it. And I don’t think people would have connected with it. Yeah, so I’m actually really glad that we went through those changes. Like we, I spent a lot of time asking people in the community to give feedback, and like reaching out. And the community has been really, really beautiful. Yeah, and that’s what I think I want it to be really about that these dolls aren’t just me making these dolls, like it’s been like a real collaborative effort and it’s for the community that everyone feels a part of this journey as well because they have had such an input, especially the names as well, like I made sure like that was like given a lot of importance. Initially I was like I’m just gonna pick the names, like how hard can it be? And then I was like wait, like the names are gonna have so much meaning. and significance for every culture. And so that’s when I like really put it out there for people to give feedback on and help to the name.
Georgette: Yeah, I think, wow, you know, just listening to the way that you did the process, I just really wanna just congratulate you on that because I think a lot of people, like you said, would not necessarily think about, you know, specific Asian cultures and ask for their input. They would just take it upon themselves. to think, oh, well, I know this, or I think I know this, and this is what I’m gonna represent. So kudos to you for doing that. I think that made us so much more culturally, I think, inspired by doing that. Now, how many cultures do your dolls represent, and what are their names? I’m so glad that you said that, that you went to the culture and said, hey, what about this name? Does this work? Because it may, it’s a different meaning, and it represents something to them, you know, that’s really important. So. That’s really beautiful that you did that.
Samantha: Thank you. Yeah, so we have six cultures and ethnicities. And so we have Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipina, Korean, Indian, and Indian. Oh, sorry, who said twice? And Japanese. And so, yeah, so I have six and their names. So we have, The Chinese doll is Mei and then we have Filipina, her name is Malaya. And then we have the Vietnamese doll, which is Hoa. And then the Indian doll is Kamala. And then the Korean doll is Danbi. And then Japanese doll is Aiko. Yeah, they all have meanings. And so it was such a… actually, just in the name itself, it was such a process because, like, for example, the Indian doll, I didn’t realize like how many languages there are in India and the interpretation of the names could mean different things, but also a lot of the names were very religious focused, so because I want these dolls to be relatable for children, I didn’t want them to be just relatable to one religious background. So that’s where it got really tricky is that I had to make sure that a name could be relatable to different religious backgrounds and languages, and then it still meant something of significance. So it was a real process, like researching each name and then even like vetting them with various people. And of course, various people had different opinions and all of that.
Georgette: That was interesting work that you had to do.
Samantha: I had no idea that I would come to this. In making it all. But it means so much to people that, of course, I had to give that so much importance.
Georgette: Yeah, that’s so true. So in what ways really do you believe or see the representation of toys and your dolls really contributing to helping racism and fostering a self, you know, I guess a sense of self-worth and love with children among themselves? Like, do you believe that those things can happen? because of dolls and toys?
Samantha: Yeah, so upon my research, when I was looking up dolls and early development, I actually had no idea that babies as young as 10 months can recognize racial differences and that they tend to side with or bias with people that look like themselves or their parents. So this is so important for our world. World is so diverse. to not just see one type of look or race, to be really familiar with many. That’s why I wanted so badly to do at least six dolls. And I really hope that I can do more in the future. Because at the very beginning, people were like, just start with one doll. You don’t have any experience, just start with one doll. And I was really stubborn about it. I really wanted to do at least six. Because just seeing the six on its own, you can see already this so much diversity within the Asian diaspora that it’s so important to be able to recognize that and have that education for people because I don’t really saw this during the pandemic or even other times where we’ve traveled and people, like my husband’s Korean and people tend to think he’s… Chinese. Chinese, yes. Yeah. So a lot of assumptions and just like not enough education, I guess. And so I’m really hoping that if children or even adults, as I like.
Georgette: Adults too. Because like you said, we get, you know, a lot of people get caught up in, like you said, their own ideas of what that looks like, you know, and if you see a different culture, you just, you know, you want to tend to. put it in one box, like that’s who they are, right? Or if you see a face that looks different, oh, well, that’s what they are. And that’s not the truth. I think it forces you, just like it did you, in the sense it forced you to learn that there were so many languages in India, there was so many different things that came with names, representation of names was so different as well. So it doesn’t just because you look one way doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s, there’s so many facets of that. not just how you look, you know? So yeah.
Samantha: Right, of course. Yeah, exactly. And so that’s why I really hope that these dolls can just be like a starting point for a lot more conversation and education. And I do hope that of course we want the dolls to be the primary of our brand, but I really do want to explore like how we can use the dolls for education, like maybe like… Even with each doll, you can scan the QR code on the hang tag and learn more about why we chose the name, what’s the significance about it, what is on their outfit, what are the significance behind that. And I hope that we can expand on that. We’ve put out facts about each country. And I hope that we can continue down this road to provide more. resources for parents to be like for tools promoting diversity. So I really hope that parents or like as adults alike that not only choose a doll that maybe is their own heritage that also they could choose to look at the other dolls for introducing that for their children. I do hope that these dolls could be played with children outside the Asian community. because, you know, we really have to, I really want it to be normalized, that it’s normal to play with an Asian doll or a Black doll, even if you’re not of that background.
Georgette: Right, right, that’s so true. I mean, I think that was one of the things that we thought about when we were doing the big, beautiful dolls, was because, you know, me and my friend, you know, plus size women, and we just felt looking at the fashion doll world, there was nothing that right? But yet, you know, 40% of women were a certain size, you know? And so we wanted that to be the norm. Like, even, you know, you have an array of these beautiful fashion dolls, and they should range from smaller to bigger, because this is who we are, you know, in this world. This is who we are in this world. It took many, many years, you know, that was 1999 and 2000, and that was, like, unheard of again, and we felt the same way. when we walked into the doll aisle, there was nothing there. It wasn’t even one doll that said, hey, this is who we are. So I definitely understand where you’re coming from in the sense of wanting it to be, wanting not just your culture, but other cultures to be represented because we are a melting pot. I mean, this is just what the world is. And so there should be dolls that represent all aspects, all abilities, all disabilities, all colors, all shapes and sizes, that is who we are as people. So I, again, I’m so excited about your dolls. Let me ask you this question though. Do you think that dolls would have been kind of created without you having an experience as being a mother?
Samantha: No, I don’t think I would have thought to like look at dolls. And so I think that’s a huge blessing that I have had this experience. Like I said, when I am with her, I look at the world through her eyes. So it’s like, how do I want to redefine her way of life that was different to my own? And changing that narrative and how, in creating the dolls, how I can change the narrative for other children. And I would have never thought about that if it weren’t for having her, because I would have like. my childhood was just like in the past now. And of course I would have thought like, okay, there needs to be more representation on TV and such.
Georgette: Right, but it wouldn’t have been something that you thought you would have just go ahead and did, right?
Samantha: No, not at all. Yeah, I understand that.
Georgette: How do you represent all the cultures like through, I guess, their heritage through their designs? How do you incorporate that into their designs?
Samantha: Yeah, so I really at first like I wanted to look up what the traditional dress for each day was and so I started from there and then okay then I started reaching out to people like well what do you think? I started drafting what it could be and then and then and then I started like adding a lot of details so this is where I think my challenge really was because Of course you can make certain things on like a full size outfit, but also making it like cost effective and also really miniature because everything is handmade that it was so difficult to do. Like for example, like people don’t realize like the Chinese knots are all handmade. So of course when you do them on a larger scale, you know, you can knot them. but then like these pieces are so tiny, like it’s just impossible. But I was so stubborn, like I had no, I have to do these like, cause I want them to be like really authentic. And then we went through so many methods like, okay, well, do we print them? Do we embroider them? And we, there was a long process of figuring out like, what would look best and the functionality, making it easy for children to be able to play with and then understand like the- aspects of a traditional dress. And of course, like, had to simplify some of them. But also I wanted to make them as authentic as possible. So like even like the Korean headpiece, like initially we had it as just like a little flower. And I was like, oh no, can we make it like a true headpiece, but also without a lot of like, we had to simplify it because we didn’t want like all these pearls because they would not. safe for children. And then even like the Japanese headpiece, usually it’s quite expensive to make that headpiece just for a regular piece of wear. Yeah. And so I’m making one that’s pretty much the same, but it’s usually used by glue. So they normally would glue it on and then that’s a traditional way to do it, but we couldn’t just glue it on because then it wouldn’t be safe for children. Right. had to look at, okay, if we sew it, will it still look the same? Will it still be cost effective? All these things. But this is me where I was just like, no, I want to do it this way. But I had to like have some leeway with it. Yeah.
Georgette: I understand that because you have to make sure that it’s safe, first of all, for children to play with. So you know, you can’t have stuff that’s that they could pick off that they could take off easily, you know, and then creating something like you said, a flower that’s so delicate and making it so small, making it small enough, but also making it represent what it’s supposed to represent as well. How many iterations did you have for each doll? So when you created a design, like how many iterations did you have of that one design for each doll?
Samantha: I can’t even tell you, I don’t even think I tried to keep track of like, okay, this is the next version, next one. But because there were so many dolls as well, like, so we were doing them all like at the same time. And then yeah, like I didn’t just do okay, Chinese doll and like, let’s complete that one. And so actually, one of the challenges was finding the right manufacturer overseas to be able to work with me. Because a lot of the time people would say, oh, I’d be willing to help you do it. we’d hit like a roadblock and then like, okay, we need to find someone else. And then I would go to the next manufacturing and like, okay, I didn’t want to keep going with this whole like process, like starting all over again. And that’s what like also took a lot of the time is that trying to find that right person. And, um, you can kind of think about it, like dating that, you know, when you find someone, but it’s not quite right, but you’re like, let’s just keep going because like I’m already invested on this time.
Georgette: And you were doing that during COVID?
Georgette: Oh my gosh. Like, wow. That must have been a huge challenge.
Samantha: Yeah, it was. And then sometimes I just wish I could just fly over there and just go, I want it exactly like this. And so there was a lot of language barrier, but also just like time delay with having to ship it over. And shipping was taking a long time and all of this. So once we did find the manufacturer that was able to really see our vision through, and then I was like, okay, now we’ve got to get them out as quick as we can. But also, I already kind of 98% had the vision of LeechDoll by that point, but it still took a long time to get to that point. Yeah, so at that point, I think I was two years into it, and so I was developing a following online, how can we get the doll like right away? Like they just wanted it so badly, but I was just telling people, please be patient because I can want it to be perfect and I wanted it to be right. So. Right,
Georgette: yeah, I get that. I totally get that. So how was you, you were talking about, you had already developed a community. So how did that work for you? When you talk about creating designs, having an idea, creating designs, but now you have to market that. Now you have to get it out to. the right people. Now you have to get enough people to see it. So how did that process start for you?
Samantha: Yeah, so initially it was just social media. So I was just posting and of course you start off with zero followers and I’m like, is anyone even going to be interested in it? And that’s when I really was looking at doing things as cheap as possible because I didn’t know if anyone would buy them. And then as I was like just doing like illustrations, like People were interested but they weren’t like so interested because they were still confused about like how would they actually really look. And then when I first put out like the one of the very first prototypes which looks nowhere to what it looks now, people were like wow, like oh my goodness, that’s what they look like. They’re so cute, this like representative, I want them. And so… it just really snowballed from there. And also when I was just like looking on like even like say Facebook groups, like looking at like asking questions like for people to have input on, and actually developed an interest and then would share. I would share, okay.
Georgette: So because you reach out to the community to ask for their input, you kind of probably got a lot more people interested. And people get to see what you were doing. So that kind of helped, I think, a lot.
Samantha: Yes, and I think it helps people feel, yeah, part of that process, but also like the reason why I was doing everything instead. Because a lot of the time people think, especially on my social media, they don’t, I really do need to put my face out there more, but people think I’m just like this corporation or this company has like this big budget behind it, or like, like all these different options and all these things. But I am really only one person being able to do this. And so I hope that, you know, if I start with the six dolls, I can do more in the future. But initially, yeah, people would have all these like ideas of like how we should do them and all of this. And I was like, no, like, spend a lot of time like explaining like, why we did certain things. And, you know, please be patient, like in the future, we hope to have some options. Like for example, people wanted different skin tones to be able to choose from for each doll and I hope that I can do them. But not like right now because of course we have minimum orders that we have to do and like it just adds like a lot of complexity to the whole of it.
Georgette: Are you still just a one man band?
Samantha: Yeah, pretty much. Like I have like an assistant that helps me like especially with social media. I can’t respond to all the… the questions and the comments and all of that. But pretty much it’s just me and then I lean on my husband here and there.
Georgette: So he becomes a worker at some point.
Georgette: Let me ask you this question. Do you have any dolls to show?
Samantha: Yeah, I do. This is the Korean doll.
Georgette: Oh, here you go.
Samantha: Yeah, here. Actually, this is the cutout of her.
Georgette: Oh, that’s so cute.
Samantha: Yeah, so that was the- So adorable. Vietnamese one. And she named Qua. And this one is Danbi. And it is Aiko. Sorry, Japanese one.
Georgette: Uh-huh. She is adorable. They’re all so cute. I love it.
Samantha: And you know, like, look at their face. I remember when I was designing them, my daughter couldn’t even speak at the time. And I was designing them on the computer. and she would just see the face and she would giggle and laugh just by seeing them on the computer, like not even having a lesson. And I thought like that’s the reason why I want to make these dolls is to like really spread joy and happiness for people, like to really be like an opposite, like with all the hate that we’ve seen in the last couple of years. We just need that in our world to be able to spread joy for everyone. So yeah, this is the feeling. The Filipina doll. Her name is Malaya. One is Kamala, the Indian doll.
Georgette: Beautiful. I love her outfit. So cute.
Samantha: Yeah, she is one of my favorites. She’s like super blingy. And the last one. And this is a Chinese doll.
Georgette: So cute. They are adorable. They are just so cute. So let me ask you, where did you get the name from Joeydolls? Where did that come from?
Samantha: Yeah, so actually my name, sorry my name, my daughter’s name is Josephine, but we call her Joey. And so I figured that she was the inspiration behind all of this, so I named it Joeydolls, but also as I mentioned before was that I wanted the doll to be like a playmate for my daughter, like a companion. So the name Joey, like I’m actually, I grew up in Australia, so the name Of course, it’s a name for like a baby koala, a baby kangaroo, but also the time for like a young child. I was like kind of fitting that, you know, that I want these dolls to be like a friend, not just like, okay, doll, but I really wanted them to be seen as a friend that they could have at times of comfort. My youngest daughter right now, like she just started daycare like two days a week. And she, she has been struggling a little bit because she’s not even two years old and she can’t talk and you know she’s like in this new environment but we give her one of the dolls and like when they send us pictures of her at her daycare she’s always like holding the doll like underneath her arm and I just like oh my goodness like I was able to give that comfort to her to have something that she’s familiar with that she feels safe with. that she can feel loved that way.
Georgette: Yeah, that’s so important too. Feeling safe, you know, that’s just, well, that’s really so important. So I’m so glad you mentioned that about what your daughter does with the dolls and how it’s really, you know, it’s probably helping her a lot, get through all the changes that are happening for her, you know, being away from you, being in a new environment. So that brings me back to asking you what’s been the most rewarding, right, experience for you since starting the Joeydolls and- in terms of impact on the children and their families. What’s been the most rewarding for you in that?
Samantha: Yeah, so because the dolls are still currently pre-order right now, I’m still waiting for the full production. They’re being shipped over right now. I’m eagerly awaiting the production to come out to everyone. Yeah, but I still think the response online has been really amazing. being able to, like we sold out like 2,200 within 48 hours.
Georgette: Oh, that’s so nice, Samantha. That’s beautiful.
Samantha: Yeah. And just like the response, like people sending me messages, like taking the time to say, thank you so much for doing this for my children, for the future generation, and even for people that don’t have children, they said, oh my gosh, like seeing the dolls, brought tears to my eyes because of my unhealed childhood. And even for like adopted, children that didn’t have a connection to their heritage and also parents of adopted children who didn’t know how to connect their adopted child to their culture. So like there’s so many ways that I think adults can help people and having that feedback like people I’ve had mixed families where they’re not Asian. So it would say things like, it was such an eye-opening experience being a parent of an Asian child, like looking for toys or books and like it being so, yeah, so eye-opening that it was so difficult to find that representation. Like they didn’t see that until they had their child and how they just felt so joyful that they were able to find out like our brand, they’ll be able to give them that tool to be able to give that to the children.
Georgette: Yeah. Wow. That made me so emotional. Talking about that, you know, especially the children who adopted, I think, because it’s like, you know, you don’t, as a parent, you want to make sure that your child feels loved and accepted. And when there’s nothing, out there that represents that, and you can’t find anything that represents that, and you’re a different race or different culture, I think that that’s really, really hard. You know, I know we talk a lot about this in the Caucasian family adopting an African American child. It’s the same way, right? What I think is very interesting when I’m having this conversation with you is that I think a lot of people don’t understand that there’s such a lack of representation. in so many different cultures when it comes to information to provide for their children. It’s just so, I just don’t think we look at it in that sense until we have children and we try to find something that represents who they are in this world. And then you see the disparity of not being represented in this world. And so I think what you’re doing is just very powerful. And I… on so many levels, you know, on so many levels. And I’m just so excited to see what the things that are gonna be happening for you.
Samantha: Thank you so much. I just wanted to mention also that I couldn’t believe that we also had families reach out to us in Asia who said they themselves can’t find Asian dolls in Asia. And the only dolls out there are like these blonde dolls with white skin and… So like you said, like it’s crazy that like so many are not represented in their own countries. We had a woman who was on the show about three, maybe two, three years ago. And that was her, she made it her business to make sure that there were African American dolls or Black dolls in Africa. There are some parts African that did not in the stores, they could not find Black dolls. And we’re like, yeah, we’re just like, really? I mean, they just couldn’t find them. And literally she would have people donate and send them over because they were not selling them. It was just amazing. Again, but I just don’t think that people understand how important it is to have representation, even in a doll.
Georgette: Absolutely. It’s very profound. It’s just something that’s so needed because dolls is something that gives children comfort. To see themselves represented in that is just powerful. And it’s just something that needs to continually happen in this world, you know, and you’re part of that. So that’s a beautiful thing, it’s a beautiful thing.
Samantha: Thank you. And then one more thing actually, my daughter is when I first came up with the first prototypes, I just had a various like skin tones for the dolls. And interestingly, when I asked them like, which ones are your favorite? They would always gravitate to the Filipino Indian doll, which are the darker dolls. had like any, I never swayed them in any way, like to which doll would look better or whatever. But they would always say, I love these two dolls. And I just thought it was so interesting that they, they naturally chose those dolls at a young age because they were introduced early enough that they were valued. Whereas in society, what is taught very subliminally that people are darker skin tones are not valued. And I just think that if we can change this narrative like earlier for what it would do for a society as a whole.
Georgette: Oh my gosh, yes. Oh, it would be, it would just be so powerful, you know, cause it would just allow people just to be who they are, you know, and not feel bad about the way they look. you know, or where they’re from. It would just really be a beautiful thing. It really would be because I, and just limit, like you said, just the hatred. And I mean, and that was one of the things that started that for you, you know, was seeing how the Asian culture was being represented and treated, you know, during the COVID times. And, you know, I think at this point in day and age in our world, nobody should be treated that way. Don’t care what you look like. Like we’re all people, so. But thank you so much for really pursuing that, you know, because everybody can come up with an idea, but, you know, deciding to pursue that is something totally different. And I’m so glad that you persevered and did that. So thank you for that.
Samantha: Oh, thank you so much. I so appreciate it. Thank you.
Georgette: Oh, you’re so welcome. So before we head out, I just wanted to find out from you, how do you see Joeydolls evolving in the future? And like you have new projects. I know you said you wanted to actually. incorporate more dolls, but what do you see it becoming in the future for you?
Samantha: So I really do think that I want to put it back into the community, like what they want to see, but what I’ve like heard and seen from what people have requested so far is that boy dolls are real, I don’t know, huge demand, that boys don’t have this, they need to have that, they deserve to have that like feeling of self-love that they’re worthy and that they’re represented just because we have this concept of that girls only play with dolls and boys don’t.
Georgette: That’s not true. You know how many doll designers are men? Oh my gosh, so many. That’s totally a misconception.
Samantha: Yeah, so I really hope to be able to do that. And then of course have more ethnicities and cultures represented. And then of course, like the whole, there are a lot of mixed children or even like this concept of, for example, East Asians only come with like lighter skin. It’s not true that, you know, there’s such a variety. So colorism is such an issue that in Asian communities that is not really talked about, but really needs to be dismantled. So I really hope that we can celebrate not only the different cultures, but also different skin tones and like I said, the different agendas. So, yeah, and so there’s so much that I could do and I’m but one step at a time.
Georgette: One step at a time for this one woman, one woman band here. So I know you came into this space not knowing how to do any of this. And so I want to ask you one more question. So what advice would you give other aspiring dollmakers or entrepreneurs who want to create toys? that celebrate diversity and culture. And that’s never been an entrepreneur. Like what advice should you give them? Well, a dollar entrepreneur, let me say that because you’ve been an entrepreneur. You’re a photographer. So you understand that space, but creating toys and celebrating diversity being in that space.
Samantha: Yeah, I think really, everything comes down to your why. Like there’s so many times that I wanted to give up, but then I was like, okay, I gotta keep going because there’s so many people um, we’ve fulfilled through these dollars and I can bring so much joy to people. And so like, if you can really solidify that why, like why you’re doing it and have like really feel connected to that purpose, I think that like everything will flow from there. Um, and of course, like, yes, it takes a lot of work and like perseverance and all of that. But if you really understand and believe in your why, then, um, I think that no matter what, like you’ll find your way.
Georgette: Yeah. And finding people who will support you too, I think is helpful. Exactly. You know, groups and organizations and things like that, I think are really important because it will also keep reminding you, not just of your why, but just keep reminding you that it can be done, you know? Exactly.
Georgette: You see other people doing that, wow. So where can they find these beautiful Joeydolls at?
Samantha: Yeah, thanks. So you can just jump on joeydolls.com. That’s J-O-E-Y-D-O-L-L-S dot com. And then you can also find us on Instagram. It’s just Joeydolls and also Facebook. Same actually, just Joeydolls everywhere.
Georgette: Well, thank you, Samantha, so much for being a guest in the doll wall. I’m so excited to see your journey. And I hope maybe next year you can come back on the show and talk about where you’re at next year, because I’m sure you’re going to have so many more dolls and. You’re just going to be, yeah, you’re going to need a staff. That’s all I’m going to say.
Samantha: I hope we get there. But yeah, thank you so much. I would love to come back on. And I so appreciate this opportunity of speaking with you and sharing our journey and what we’re about. So I so appreciate it.
Georgette: Oh, you’re so welcome. Thank you again so much for being In The Doll World.
Samantha: I know. Thank you.
Conclusion: Resilience and Purpose in
In closing, this podcast with Georgette encapsulates the resilience, determination, and purpose behind Joeydolls. My dedication to creating a diverse and inclusive line of dolls, coupled with transparency and passion, aims to inspire others and empowering diversity. The journey is driven by love, cultural pride, and a commitment to making a difference in the world of dolls.
As we eagerly anticipate the continued success of Joeydolls, my hope is that our journey resonates with creators, diversity advocates, and those who believe in the transformative power of a doll. Thank you for being part of the Joeydolls story!