Two Quebec-based dads, Gaëtan Etoga and Yannick Nguepdjop, are on a mission to bring diversity to the toy industry through their company, Ymma. They're seeking to create change by offering a line of beautiful Black and mixed-race dolls for kids of all ethnic backgrounds. Both originally from Cameroon, they were surprised to observe that, even in big cities like Montreal with large multicultural populations, there is a glaring lack of diversity in many areas—including when it comes to toys.
“Black dolls are hard to find, and they don’t get much exposure,” they tell My Modern Met. “Even when you can find some, they are expensive. We wanted to solve that first problem. The second one is an identity problem; we want Black kids to have toys that look like them. We want to inspire them, build their self-esteem, their self-confidence, and, moreover, make them understand they are beautiful the way God created them. Our dolls are not only for Black kids. We want all the kids to have them so they can be exposed to diversity at a young age because we believe, if that’s the case, they will be open-minded, they will be aware of diversity, and, moreover, develop social skills when they grow up.”
Their mission is truly inspiring, and their reach doesn’t stop there. In addition to offering these dolls as an example of the beauty of diversity, they are also using their business as a means to support the economy of their home country, Cameroon. All their dolls' clothes are made there with locally produced textiles that celebrate the beauty and tradition of the Central African nation. Since their business began, they have already made a great impact and only hope for it to continue to grow as their influence spreads.
“We hope to see our dolls in every household in the world,” the entrepreneurs express of their benevolent business ambitions. “We want to be the reference for diverse dolls. It’s true we are a business, but it’s not just about selling dolls. It’s about change. Kids are the future; we want to make the world a better place for them.”