Skip to content

Meet Temi: Changing Conversations Around Toys For Black Children

I cannot fix all the issues I face. But as someone who went through an identity crisis about my hair and skin colour, I want to make sure that my daughter never has to question who she is, how she looks, and what she is capable of. And as funny as it may seem, this can and does start with the toys they play with, the words they are told, and the environment they are brought up in.

Our world is diverse, the toys our kids play with must also reflect that.

Tell Us About Yourself

My name is Temi. I am a Wife, mother, and the creator and founder of Amaris and Chaya, a brand dedicated to promoting inclusivity and diversity in children’s toy boxes as well as a positivity in Children’s lives through home décor.

My favourite things to do, are learning new languages, reading books, and spending time with my husband and 2 kids. I am an extroverted introvert, that believes in the importance of representation, positive mental health, and fairness and equality.

Where Are You From?

I Black British Nigerian woman. I was born in the UK but lived part of my life in Nigeria, the states and ultimately back in the UK

WHEN DID YOU START?

Amaris & Chaya was an idea I had, an began developing in 2020 during lockdown. However, it officially did not launch until July 2021.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START?

My daughter, of whom the business is named after, was and is the inspiration behind the brand.

I wanted to ensure that even though I cannot change or prevent every challenge and trial that may come her way, her confidence and identity as a young black girl and ultimately woman, would not be one of them. AI initially searched for a soft black doll for her, as I enjoyed playing with dolls growing up. However, I could not find a soft doll that embodied this for me for her. It was because of this, that I decided to create one that would both look and have similar major features to her. Predominantly being her skin colour and hair texture.

My hope is for her for her to see herself represented as she grows up, and will subsequently know that who she is, is just as important, beautiful, loved and valued as anyone else.

HOW DID YOU START?

I started by designing the doll I wanted and it needing to be soft, I tried out a few ways to bring it to life. I had samples made as a plush doll, fabric doll and crochet doll. I then decided to make Amaris a Fabric doll, as with fabric, she would be more versatile, and easier to reproduce. I discussed and redesigned the doll ( I have now called “Amaris”) with my family, and eventually, was happy enough to have and launch the Amaris doll.

HOW HAVE YOU FUNDED THIS BUSINESS?

I have self-funded the business since I began. However, at the beginning, I was supported financially by my family and close friends.

HOW ARE YOU GROWING?

Growth is slow, and funding is low. Amaris & Chaya, is only just over a year old.

However, the potential impact I can already see and the responses I have been given by customers, and others, from the popups I am able to do, have given me the determination I need to continue to push past my own limitations.

I have a 1year plan and a 3yr plan. And even though its still just me by myself, I know that what I am capable of will not only shock me, but prove that Amaris & Chaya is more than what even I have thought it to be.

WHAT’S A PROBLEM YOU FREQUENTLY FACE AS A FOUNDER?

Most problems I face are financial, and lack of time or resource.

As of this moment, Amaris & Chaya is a still a self-funded small business, run entirely from start to finish by myself.

I am effectively a working mumpreneur, with a full time 9-5 job, with a wonderfully supportive husband and 2 children under 5 that we are raising. Even through my passion and accumulated experience, I don’t have the time I would like to dedicate to growing the business, nor do I have all the resources and skills I need to promote and showcase the business.

Growth is slow, and funding is low.

However, as this is a passion of mine, I strongly believe that the significance of Amaris & Chaya, and the influence and change it is already fostering in its only 1yr life so far, has made every struggle, sacrifice and tear, worth it. I know it is more than just a small business, it is a force for change, growth, awareness and representation.

HOW HAS BEING A BLACK WOMAN IMPACTED YOUR GROWTH?

Being a black woman in the world today, has had its up and downs.

I am not yet a business that has seen or experienced enough to give a broad view of this, but I will say that so far the support of the black community in championing black wealth, black businesses and black owned businesses, has been second to none. I have been able to experience the support and in some cases information and resource sharing, that has helped me develop Amaris & Chaya. We still have a lot to do and change, but how we have come together as a black community, in light of the events of 2020 from Covid to the tragedy surrounding George Floyd and the black lives movement, has showed that we are all reading from the same book, and lifting each other up.

Please ask me again in 1 or 2 years, and I can hopefully give you a more specific growth chart of how being a black woman has impacted my growth.

HOW DO YOU STAY MOTIVATED THROUGH THE UPS AND DOWNS OF GROWING A BUSINESS?

I love what I do first and foremost, and I am passionate about the change I want to impact, and the awareness I want to bring to light.

However, as a business, there is always the bottom line to think about and the bills that have to be paid.

I am not always motivated, or able to see the light ahead of the financial tunnel but hearing how your kids see themselves in the dolls, or how you see the purpose and support the business, keeps me going. I know that patience is key, passion is fuel and determination is fire.

DOES EQUALITY, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION MEAN ANYTHING TO YOU? ELABORATE.

It is part and parcel of the mission for Amaris and Chaya. I started my small business, because I wanted and still intend to continue to promote diversity and inclusion in children’s toy boxes.

For me, living in a diverse world full of rich cultures and people, I truly believe that the toys our children play with have to also represent that. Children from a young age, start to shape their world view from what they are exposed to, and what they see and hear around them. And the black community have been underrepresented for years and have always felt like their lives don’t matter, or they do not represent the standard of beauty and other things.

I cannot fix all the issues I face. But as someone who went through an identity crisis about my hair and skin colour, I want to make sure that my daughter never has to question who she is, how she looks, and what she is capable of. And as funny as it may seem, this can and does start with the toys they play with, the words they are told, and the environment they are brought up in.

Our world is diverse, the toys our kids play with must also reflect that.

HOW DO YOU UNWIND?

I switch off from the world and social media, stay in my PJs all day, and binge watch documentaries, tv series, and read novels.

IF YOU HAD ONE PIECE OF ADVICE FOR A BLACK WOMAN JUST STARTING OUT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Do your research and if you have the passion to do it, then start. There will never be a perfect moment, circumstance or time. But I will stress, that you must have the passion for it, for the financial benefit will not always be there in the beginning, and may take years to fully come out. But if you enjoy and are passionate about what and why you are doing it, not only will you never work a day in your life, but you will hopefully change people’s lives.

LEGACY: WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU ARE DOING?

My Family ultimately. But most especially my kids, as they both inspired aspects of the business. They are the ones I started it for, with the hope that it will inspire them to be the change they want to see in the world.

WHAT ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU HAVE?

I have a RIBA Diploma in Architecture (Part 2)

YOUR FAVE 3 BLACK GIRL BRANDS.

@streetgreets

@mimzandtribe

@mashona_designs

FINALLY, WHERE CAN WE FIND YOU?

Www.amarisandchaya.com

IG @amarisandchaya

Tags: