Many parents shy away from getting dolls or soft toys for their children due to the concern of allergy triggers or potential dust mites trapped with the dolls. Furthermore, many commercialised toys often create an unrealistic and false perception of beauty. There is an option for children to have fun without compromising on their health and idea of beauty. The answer to this is Stitch A Giggle.
What is Stitch A Giggle?
Stitch A Giggle designs giggly cute fabric dolls and toys that are handmade with love by women artisans from low-income and/or disadvantaged communities. They currently have 2 main collections – (1) Kasih Dolls (dress-up dolls); and (2) Poketilos (pocket pillow plushies).
They also started the “Sew Fun & Do Good” workshop series for children in December 2016 to encourage children to learn a new skill. This includes sewing their own toys and gifts and teaching them to give back. Every workshop will include an element of giving, such as sewing an extra toy for an underprivileged child. Proceeds from the workshops will be used to fund training workshops for their beneficiaries.
They also provide wholesale orders for corporations or organisations for their CSR projects and events. Two of their notable projects have been their 1-for-1 Charity Bear Drive and a Christmas Bear Project partnership with an international school. In total, over 700 bear plushies have been donated to children in local hospitals and shelter homes in Nov and Dec 2016.
Young children should not be overly exposed to commercialisation and the innocence of childhood should be protected. Children are naturally drawn towards pretend play, and playing with dolls is a natural thing. However, children playing with plastic dolls with an unrealistic body image may affect how they think of themselves. In addition, it is challenging to find fabric dolls here in Malaysia, especially the Steiner or Waldorf-inspired dolls.
It was a combination of circumstances and events that led to the idea of setting up Stitch.A.Giggle. The dolls are made locally so that they are affordable and more accessible to more children. They also made the conscious decision for the toys to be ethically made therefore they will only use safe, natural materials, and their artisans will be paid a fair wage.
Girl Power Behind The Dolls
The business was founded in June 2016 but only started going into production mode around October 2016 while under the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) Accelerator Programme – Social Enterprise Track, Cohort 3. They are a team of two mothers (and sisters) – Li Ai and Lynn who are passionate about quality childhood play. They love all things giggly cute, and they love to play! Lynn started an online toy shop focusing on simple and natural toys, and these are all imported. Around the same time, Li Ai left the corporate world and was exploring volunteer work as a means to contribute back to society. This was how the idea to make these dolls and other simple, natural toys for young children came about.
The Philosophy Behind Stitch A Giggle
They hope to empower women of low-income or disadvantaged communities. Not just financially but also emotionally by giving them back their dignity and self-confidence. They are currently working with a group of refugee mothers, most of whom started with almost zero sewing skills and zero income. Today they have collectively produced over 1,000 pieces of toys under the Stitch A Giggle label, and are earning a full-time equivalent monthly income of at least RM1,250.
Some of their women artisans were hiding behind their husbands when they first started and they had to communicate with them through their husbands. Today, most of them have come out of their shell and are proactively reaching out to them, or even asking for more work and recommending their friends. They hope to reach out to more communities and will be doing so in the next few months with the roll-out of more product lines.
They want Stitch.A.Giggle to become well-known and sought after. When you think of getting your child their first doll or plush toy, you will think of Stitch.A Giggle. Hopefully, in 5 years’ time, you will be able to find their products in retail shops all around the world.
“We believe that children learn best through play. Our children spend hours each day engaging in pretend play. Natural, open-ended toys are the best as they can be almost anything you can imagine them to be. These simplest of toys have the longest lasting play value as children enjoy playing with them over and over again for years! And these are the toys we want to make – safe, simple and natural toys!”
– STITCH A GIGGLE
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