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Monero Kids Boutique: Businesswoman opens Dalston store selling hand-crafted black dolls

PUBLISHED: 13:45 15 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:09 18 February 2019

Sandra Monero with the dolls she designs and dresses at her Balls Pond Road shop. Picture: Polly Hancock

Sandra Monero with the dolls she designs and dresses at her Balls Pond Road shop. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

A businesswoman has opened a children’s boutique in Dalston selling organic clothing and hand-crafted black dolls inspired by the women in her life.

Sandra Monero's dolls - Harley D, Honey and Ellie. Picture: Polly HancockSandra Monero's dolls - Harley D, Honey and Ellie. Picture: Polly Hancock

Sandra Monero, of Stoke Newington, launched Monero Kids Boutique in Balls Pond Road last year after seeing the unit lying empty one day. She had begun making doll clothes after losing her mother, father and brother and after finding it therapeutic, decided to try and make a go of it professionally.

Now her store is proving a hit with the community for its range of eco-friendly children’s clothing, educational books and, most popular of all, her “gratitude dolls”.

“The dolls are named Monero Dolls and we do three, which represent archetypal women. My mother, Ellie is one, and it’s been like therapy making the clothes.

“Honey is named after my friend and Harley D is a daughter character. She’s named after the motorbikes because I love them, and I don’t have any children but I always said if I had a daughter I would call her Harley D.”

Monero Kids Boutique in Balls Pond Road.Monero Kids Boutique in Balls Pond Road.

Growing up, like most black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) children who loved playing with dolls, Sandra did not have any that represented her. She says ranges like Barbie’s “fashionista” dolls show that is starting to change, but believes her own dolls go a step further.

“My dolls tell a story,” she explained. “They have Afros, one has a beauty spot on her lip and another has a birth mark on her left cheek.”

Sandra, who grew up in Islington, makes the clothes and paints the dolls herself, after shipping them in from abroad.

She added: “I decided to do this because through life experiences and challenges I became a bit depressed and was missing my mum and dad and older brother. My best friends were all gone. I never had much luck but I saw the shop in Balls Pond Road and the rest is history.”

Through word of mouth more and more people are now coming into the shop and Sandra is now selling about 20 dolls a week.

“A lot of my customers are people who get off the bus and see the dolls in the window,” she said. “But it’s not just children. Adults buy them for themselves or for their girlfriends. Black people can actually identify with them.”

Sandra’s favourite story from her short time as a shop owner involves a young white girl named Hannah.

“She came in and bought the darkest doll,” Sandra said. “When asked why she had chosen that one she said: ‘Mummy, she looks like my best friend Yemi’.

“She still comes in to say hello to me and the doll is always in her rucksack.”

Sandra has also produced 26 dolls in national dress for each Caribbean island, which will go on sale on World Doll Day in June. There are also plans to create two male dolls based on her father and brother.

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