I set up My Doll Best Friend because I believed passionately that many children I knew had lost out on something vital that I was lucky enough to have had in my childhood, and I wanted to see it returned.
After my daughter was born I watched her test out toys for their ability to entertain her, and she did this for years. She pushed a button, it made a noise; she discarded the toy. That seemed to be the pattern. I often wondered to myself what would keep her entertained longer, better, in more absorbing – and in a developmentally beneficial way. Was there something I could introduce her to?
So I thought back to how I played as a child. In the 1970’s and 80’s I was always absorbed in long hours of imaginary play, with my brother and children in the neighborhood. I had plenty of crayons, books, a few dolls, some teddies, a pram and a toy camper van with little people inside. These toys had quite simply kept me happy until I was almost a teenager. By contrast, my daughter had so much more, so many more expensive toys, more high-tech toys – and yet seemed to have nothing of any interest to her that I could say in truth was stimulating her creativity and her imagination.
Instead, she had many one session toys with no scope for creative thinking where play could really evolve and last for hours.
When I set about addressing the imbalance I found art materials, books and teddies in the shops; but I couldn’t find ‘nice dolls’. Fundamentally, this question bothered me most: how could children tell stories without a main character that might resemble them, and those characters it would meet on its story-telling travels?
I recognise imagination is important to health and well-being, and toys that nourish the imagination from an early age are the tools to develop early creative thinking that lasts a lifetime.
Even now, as an adult, my imagination is this place of happiness, hope and inspiration. My imagination is my constant companion and where my indestructible resilience comes from. It energises and restores me. It gives me confidence to take a risk, embrace a challenge and make things better.
I wanted adults to want to introduce their children to dolls, to a toy that seemed to be the forgotten toy, with no substitute. One solution I came up with was to open an online shop to provide the most credible dolls, and to start to tell the story about the relationship between a person and a doll, and to encourage others to do it too.
When my daughter went to school I heard her talk about her ‘first’ best friend, her ‘second’ best friend. I heard “my first best friend is Amelie, and today Amelie and I…..” and I thought, what about her ‘doll’ best friend? It’s her story, so what about ‘my doll best friend’ as if she were telling the story. If she talked about her doll as ‘my doll best friend’ she would have a companion at home and she would be able to create the whole story, fictional or biographical, however she chose.
I really see a need for us to nourish our imaginations at every stage in life and throughout our whole lives.
In this shop I would like everyone browsing to find a relatable doll to switch on their imagination.
The tagline is “Start the story…” because that’s the point of doll play.
Founder, My Doll Best Friend