Julia, the founder of Coton et Gourmandises, is temporarily living in Senegal, originally from France, and she is an expert in crochet.
When her Senegalese housekeeper, Caroline, casually told her one day that, for financial reasons, she was going to have to take her kids out of private school, Julia knew she needed to help. She began teaching her and eventually a group of women at a rehab center (for women who have are vulnerable and/or have been abused) called La Maison Rose how to crochet these dolls—inspired by Senegalese mothers and their children.
She gives them the tools and material they need to make them, pays the women for each doll they make, and profits go back into the business to support its growth. The women at La Maison Rose often find it difficult to leave, as they have no means to provide for themselves and their children. Having a skill and participating in a business like this one gives them opportunity, stability, dignity.
Julia will eventually need to return to France and hopes to train Caroline in running the business. Through our own non-profit The Off Ramp, we're exploring options for partnership—including a potential grant for the purchase of new materials so she can train more women. But for now we're making the dolls available through Threads by Nomad!
We currently are offering 7 one-of-a-kind crocheted dolls on our website. Each one is named and comes dressed in traditional Senegalese clothing with a baby wrapped around her back—as is the custom.
These dolls are truly exceptional in design and quality, but most importantly they're more than just dolls. They represent hope and dignity for the women who make them.