By Sabina Mollot
This holiday season, Stuyvesant Town boutique Ibiza Kidz is hoping to spread some cheer to Syrian women refugees, by selling dolls they’ve made with 100 percent of the money from the sales going towards helping them and others who are in the same position.
The elaborately embroidered dolls, which have just made their debut in the United States, arrived at the kids’ clothing shop last Friday. They come in sets of three (a mother, a father and child) and are meant to tell the stories of real refugee families.
Each one comes with a story parents are encouraged to read to their children that Ibiza Kidz owner Carole Husiak describes as “reality in a meaningful, kid-friendly way.
“It demystifies and explains the concept of people starting a new home, not to frighten children but explain what some families go through,” she said.
There are a total of five families involved in the making of the dolls, called the “Ana Collection,” and their distribution in the United States and in Lebanon is overseen by an organization called The Yaday Collective. Yaday is Arabic for “with my own hands.” The Yaday Collective, which mainly sells the dolls on its website (theyadaycollective.com), said all the money made from the dolls, which are $79 plus tax for the sets of three, goes towards paying the women artisans who make them and training more refugee women to learn artisanal skills.
“Especially in this climate right now when there’s so much uneasiness, they’re looking to try to help these women get a life for themselves,” Husiak said.
The organization also uses some money, described by co-founder Doris King, as a very small amount for its operational costs, which include fees for things like mandatory product safety testing, so the dolls can be sold in this country. King added while Yaday purchases the dolls wholesale from a group that’s responsible for paying the artisans, those artisans make above the average wage in Lebanon.
On the five women Yaday works with, King said, “I’m a mother of a two-year-old so their stories really resonated with me. “One family moved to Australia, so their child could have a normal childhood where they’d be able to play in the grass. It’s nothing more than you want to have your children have a normal life, which is pretty powerful.”
As for their creations, the dolls are made of cotton and polyester with brightly colored, embroidered outfits. The parent dolls are 12 inches long and the child dolls 8-10 inches.
Husiak said when she was approached by Yaday Collective about allowing the use of her store for a doll presentation and sale event, “My heart went out.”
Unfortunately, she didn’t know when scheduling that the event was also the same time as the Stuy Town Christmas tree lighting. But despite getting a lower turnout than Husiak hoped for, eight sets of dolls ended up getting sold, with more people calling later either expressing interest in the dolls or wanting to donate money to Yaday.
“It was a really wonderful, widespread response,” said Husiak.
Meanwhile the dolls will continue to be available at the store during its regular business hours through the holidays.
Ibiza Kidz is also holding a clothing drive through December 15 to benefit Syrian refugee children. New and gently used clothing for children ranging in age from newborns to teenagers will be accepted. (Husiak has requested that those bringing in bags also include a list of items inside, described by clothing type, gender or gender neutral and child’s age, taped to the bag.) Ibiza Kidz is located at 340 First Avenue between 19th and 20th Streets.