Piece #3 The Doll Challenge
So we set them a challenge: Could they produce ten perfect dolls in one day?
The women were so up for it. They set to work immediately, Magdalene cutting out the body pattern, Mary sewing the body seams, Olipa stuffing, Nophreen embroidering the facial features, Charity and Exhilda fashioning wigs and hairstyles, Rosemary customizing clothes, Pauline making earrings and decoration. Annie and Ivy are chosen to cook both for the Mama Bakhita children’s lunch and for the women themselves. Originally it had been Nophreen, Rosemary and Charity who were scheduled to cook today, but when the challenge was issued, the women knew that they would be at a disadvantage without the skillful threesome. The group decided that Annie and Ivy, the least skilled among them, should cook so that the others could work at full speed. They seemed not to resent this.
Meanwhile, Sydney, Chembo and I spent many hours at a bank located in a grocery store applying for a bank account for our half of the business called “Handmade in Zambia”, also a non profit. It had taken us a long time to realize that we needed a business to market the dolls. I had always assumed that we could set up a subsidiary of the AACDP in Livingstone with Sydney at its head, but when we went to PACRA, (which stands for Patents and Companies Registration Agency)
At the hydro pool/doll workshop* we set up a photo shoot studio. Sydney has been pouring over internet articles for advice and we are experimenting ways to take good photos of the dolls. It is not easy, but we are improving.
The unspoken piece is that our responsibility is to sell 200 dolls a month to actually reach that break-even point.
But I have faith in the sales team of Chembo, Victor, Susan and Sydney. We have discussed our markets:
-Families interested in un-sexy (friendly?) and beautifully hand crafted (anti-Barbie) dolls of color, each one unique and made of natural materials. -Organizations such as schools, hospitals, museum gift shops and doctors who might be interested in having appealing dolls of color in their waiting.
At the close of the working day I remembered our challenge. The women had not forgotten, of course, and were looking very pleased with themselves, when Chembo announced that 17 perfect dolls had been produced in one day, albeit, a long day. This was very good news because it indicated that we could meet our break-even point of 200 dolls a month.