Ethiodoll CEO & Founder Salome Yilma on Forbes

Above: Forbes highlight EthiDolls through an interview with
Co-Founder & CEO Salome Yilma. Video posted by Dire Tube.

Tadias Magazine
Created by Two Ethiopian Women: EthiDolls to Spread
a New Vision of Africa

By Margaret Heneghan

Updated: Monday, August 16, 2010

New York (Tadias) – As young girls in Ethiopia, Yeworkwoha Ephrem and Salome Yilma were part of the first generation to help their native land bridge into the modern world. Today, they are New York City entrepreneurs working to preserve African culture for future generations.

Through their start-up company EthiDolls™, Ms. Ephrem and Ms. Yilma are developing African signature dolls and accessories that teach history and tradition, as well as celebrate cultural diversity.

“As a child, I believed that the world had infinite possibilities because all around me women had equal responsibility for life. School, play, my mother’s work, my father’s work — all were life,” says Ms. Yilma, EthiDolls’ chief executive officer. “This notion has always grounded me and allowed me to thrive – personally and professionally – uninhibited by the many prejudices we all experience as we go through life.”

“I have my parents to thank for this precious gift; their emphasis on integrity, education and aspiration has always been my touchstone,” she says. “We at EthiDolls believe that these are the same gifts all parents wish to bestow on their children. And we hope to awaken this same spirit of leadership in today’s young African-American girls and their multicultural playmates by offering a new vision of the African experience. We believe that connection to the rich historic cultural heritage of Africa will be a good source for young people to extract a sense of pride and self empowerment.”

Video: Ethiodoll CEO & Founder Salome Yilma on Forbes

Established in 2003, EthiDolls launched its first product line in December 2006 with the “Makeda: Queen of Sheba” doll, storybook and CD narration. The line is based on the ancient legend of Makeda, “The Queen of Sheba,” the first female ruler of Ethiopia, the land known as the “cradle of civilization” because people throughout the world today can trace their roots to it.

The dolls are collector quality and hand-crafted for EthiDolls by Madame Alexander® maker of the popular collectible doll line and no detail or expense was spared to capture the Queen’s majestic image. The doll stands 16 inches tall and has 18 points of articulation from head to toe, including hair and lashes made of top-of-the-line kanekalon fiber and gold hoops and bangles for her wrists. The fabric used for the costume is rich in detail, hand woven in Ethiopia, and is an authentic representation of the traditional Ethiopian dress still worn today.

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The accompanying items are of equal quality. The storybook is beautifully illustrated by a young Ethiopian artist, and the CD provides a compelling narration of Queen Makeda’s rise to the throne and her relationship with King Solomon.

EthiDolls launches the Queen Makeda merchandise as African culture emerges into popular consciousness and as “edutainment”— learning through a medium that educates and entertains — is on the rise. According to the Toy Institute of America, dolls rank as the toy industry’s second-largest product category in dollar volume with sales of $2.7 billion in 2005. The superior quality and authenticity of the product line also will appeal to the doll collector community, which vies with stamps and miniatures as the No.1 hobby group in the world.

“Our true aim is to enrich the lives of young girls of African heritage especially in this fast-paced and media savvy age we live in,” says Ms. Ephrem, EthiDolls’ executive vice president. “And we’re also pleased to contribute to the growing and important movement of African-American families researching heritage and re-connecting to cultural traditions. We’re eager to serve this market with upscale, quality merchandise that meets their high expectations.”

EthiDolls will launch several more dolls based on African royal figures in 2007. Currently, the company is utilizing the rapidly growing direct-to-consumer marketing and distribution channels to sell Queen Makeda merchandise. Future plans include distribution in targeted specialty shops and other locations that provide unique family experiences.

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For more information about how to purchase Queen Makeda products, visit www.ethidolls.com.

12 Responses to “Ethiodoll CEO & Founder Salome Yilma on Forbes”


  1. 1 ZAGWE Apr 24th, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    What a concept!. You are one sister that black people of the world should be proud of.

    Very impressive design with the best root any body can imagine.
    God bless you.

  2. 2 eAwassa May 24th, 2007 at 8:54 am

    i want to buy ethiodols…Where?

  3. 3 Ann E Forde Jun 6th, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    I found the site incidentally, and I think the doll is beautiful. I live in Norway and I have a beautiful daugther, Marie Kelemie, born in Ethiopia and adopted by my me and my husband when she was 11 months and she is now four. I’m interested in bying the doll and story, because I think it is important that she will learn about her birth country as she grows. I will have to translate to Norwegian, of course.
    Ann Forde, Norway

  4. 4 Patti Gindoff Jun 14th, 2007 at 11:09 am

    Hello Ann Forde,

    Thank you for your interest in EthiDolls. I’m so glad you wish to purchase a doll for your daughter. Please contact me at pgindoff@ethidolls.com so that we can determine the best way for you to place your order.

    Patti Gindoff

  5. 5 Patti Gindoff Jun 14th, 2007 at 11:56 am

    Hello eAwassa,

    Thank you for your interest in Makeda, The Queen of Sheba Doll and Accessories.You may purchase her at ethidolls.com.

    Patti Gindoff
    SVP, Marketing
    EthiDolls

  6. 6 from Eritrea Aug 7th, 2007 at 9:15 pm

    this is Eritrean traditional clothe. it is not Ethiopean dress

  7. 7 From Ethiopia Aug 9th, 2007 at 9:58 am

    I think it is a wonderful representation of history and a great way of passing tradition to our children. It does not matter if it is Eritrean or Ethiopian I think we all emerged from the same cultural background. I say keep up the good work and represent our culture to the world…. proud to be an ethiopian.

  8. 8 Nani G. Aug 9th, 2007 at 10:08 am

    this is a reply to the person from Eritrea,
    you always prove that you want to be like us by claiming everything that is ethiopian as yours.go find yourslef..stop living in the shadow of us etiopians.Find Eritrea and claim it,love it,cherish it.you must first find yourself to be able to look at others.
    Try to look beyond the clothes.This doll is an art.Appreciate the art

  9. 9 Martha Aug 17th, 2007 at 7:56 am

    I am very proud to see such better com to introduce African culture through Ethiopians. This is so very important to know our history for outside world to give standard knowledge for all of us. Speically my generation are confused and lack of attention to know about culture, history…..as shortage of organization and we have no means to access compiled information easily in timely manner. This is must be continue and establish by others who love thier country and wants to keep the new generation with open and free mind.

    Wish the best!

  10. 10 dugassa Aug 29th, 2008 at 1:30 am

    you are our mirror.

  11. 11 April Jun 9th, 2009 at 7:25 am

    we would be interested in buying dolls to sell on our website & at fundraiser events. we love Ethiopia and its people and we are committed to raising money for the people in our hearts. please let me know how much the dolls are, and how we order them? thankyou

  1. 1 BOOK SIGNING EVENT: My Rediscovery of Ethiopia Rebecca Haile at Tadias Magazine Pingback on May 18th, 2007 at 3:27 pm
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