Could a little girl named Selma change the way people think about others who may look different from them? Her mother, Valerie Alva-Ruiz, created Selma’s Dolls ($39.99) in partnership with fellow mom Courtney Stillwagon to mirror the beauty within every religion, culture and physical and mental disability.
The debut collection of Selma’s Dolls features ragdolls Annie, Lola and Ameena. The dolls are made for children ages 2 and up as a way to introduce the beauty of differences through play. Via the storybook, parents can teach their children that differences are special and lead to friendship and understanding. And ultimately those differences lead to wonder and acceptance. Here’s a 1-minute video explaining their concept.
The mompreneurs behind Selma’s Dolls were corporate colleagues in Atlanta, GA. As they chatted about work and children, “we realized our little girls’ ragdolls didn’t reflect the world around them,” explained Stillwagon. Recognizing a gap in the marketplace, they decided to start their own company (while keeping their day jobs!) with the mission of teaching children to love, appreciate and embrace differences. They worked quickly, hiring plush industrial designers to create a prototype and working through several iterations to perfect color, texture, size and safety specifications.
The charming results are Annie who wears a blue and yellow butterfly dress pattern to represent awareness for people with Down syndrome. Lola wears a Mexican-inspired print that’s a nod to Alva-Ruiz’s heritage. And lovely Ameena wears the color green, as green has a number of traditional associations and meanings in Islam.