EthiDolls: Telling the stories of African women leaders

Tiberah Tsehai

EthiDolls, established in 2003 and based in New York City, is the maker of the eye catching Queen of Sheba Doll, Makeda. Makeda comes fully dressed in hand-woven hager lebse and even has tattoos on her neck. Patti Gindoff is the Senior Vice President of Marketing for EthiDolls. “My job is to garnish as much exposure as possible. I do that by getting in touch with newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations,” she explains. EthiDolls has been featured on CW11, BET J,, Addis Fortune and The Star-Ledger, Ebony, and Uptown Magazine to name a few. “The two co-founders, Salome and Yeworkwoha, came up with the idea to create dolls because they wanted to tell the world about African women rulers from history,” she says. “They wanted to do something educational and entertaining,” she adds. Salome Yilma is the Chief Executive Officer for EthiDolls and Yeworkwoha Ephrem is the Executive Vice President. Yeworkwoha is also owner of two Ethiopian restaurants, Ghenet, in Manhattan and Ghenet Brooklyn.

An illustrated book and audio book can be purchased along with Makeda, The Queen of Sheba Doll and Queen Mother Yaa Asantewaa of the Asante Doll. “The stories and life journeys of these rulers are told from the point of view of an African American grandfather telling these stories to his granddaughter. Storytelling is an art that is still practiced today,” says Patti.
“We wanted to have it familial with an extended African American family; so we decided it would be nice to have a grandfather of African descent tell the story to his granddaughter.” As the story of Makeda is being told, krar, an ancient Ethiopian stringed musical instrument, plays in the background….Read More