As an independent, black-owned company with a strong emphasis on (biologic as well as chosen) family, representation truly matters at Patta. We pride ourselves on telling stories that are missing from culture in large. So when we come across entrepreneurs in any capacity that have that same mission, we will always try and link with them and join forces. Coloured Goodies is a small independent business from Amsterdam-Noord, run by Ellen Brudet with support from her partner Marlon. Ellen sells non-toxic afro dolls in many different hues, and even delivers custom hand painted dolls with vitiligo, albinism & Down syndrome, making sure all children can have a companion they can relate to. Read on for a Q&A with Coloured Goodies founder Ellen Brudet.
Ellen, what made you want to start Coloured Goodies?
This all started 31 years ago when I was pregnant with my first son and I wanted to make a birth announcement but couldn't find a card with a brown baby anywhere. I created a birth announcement myself with a black illustrated baby on it. And everybody loved it. 14 years later I got another son and same story. My mom was white, my father was black from Surinam and my mother was always telling me she could never find things where we could identify ourselves with. And at that moment I knew what she was talking about. In 2006 I officially started, because in this society there was nothing people of colour could identify themselves with.
What were the first steps you took when starting your brand?
Making money without money:
My testimony of how I started is very long, in 2006 I did a 9-month entrepreneurial course at Women At Work in the south-east of Amsterdam. During that time, the name Coloured Goodies was born.
I was diagnosed with COPD, a lung disease that causes me to live on only 31% of my lungs capacity. Long story short my job at the time had to let me go. After that both my parents passed away and I had a dream that they said to me ”Ellen stop crying and go do what you want, go follow your passion.” So that was the beginning. I started selling cards, baby bibs and rompers at home.
In 2012 I was in the revalidation center for 4 months because of my lungs. I decided to make a switch in my head and I said to myself I’m not going to die. My mom died but I’m going to be 108. After the revalidation centre, I said to my partner that I would get a stand at the market. I found distribution places where I could buy black dolls. And I started like that, on the market with my bald-headed black dolls.
After a while, I was struggling at the market and my doctors were not happy with me standing there. But they told me you’re right because you are stable with the way you are doing it now. I said if you take that away from me I’m going to die. In 2016 I got my own store.
In what way do you think you have made an impact in the lives of kids of colour and kids with skin conditions in The Netherlands?
A good impact because we do our best so that every child can identify themselves with the dolls. I get a lot of requests to make dolls with different skin conditions but also for very extreme disabilities. Right now we’re are trying to make dolls with amputated legs or arms because that’s more achievable. We give kids and adults with a skin condition a stage because we want everybody to see the beauty behind the skin condition. We even have dolls with down syndrome.
What do you think is holding back the toy industry from creating more diverse or black dolls?
The only thing I can tell you is what they say. That people don’t want it. I always ask them: “What do you mean people don’t want it?” And then I say, “No you don’t want it”.
How do you think parents of all races should approach this problem?
Parents could approach this problem by educating themselves and diving into the culture to support black products and black-owned businesses.
Why did you choose to work with Patta specifically and how did the collaboration come to life?
The moment they came to me I thought, this is great. The main reason was because Patta is black-owned. But my personal reason was because they have longevity in entrepreneurship like me. They have already been existing for 15 years and stand for black business but also for a similar vision as I. I had a lot of people coming to me but I didn’t want to collaborate with just any brand. This collaboration was good and the conversation felt good. I spoke to Lee Stuart and Timothy Sabajo and felt honoured, it was a good connection.
What do you desire to achieve with the Patta x Coloured Goodies Collaboration?
This collaboration will be good for the name of Coloured Goodies. But for me it’s not about fame but more about the collaboration with Patta and what they stand for.
My dream is to also have a pop-up store in New York. Maybe this year maybe next year I can say Coloured Goodies goes to New York for a pop-up store.