Our feature this week is the lovely Ellen Brudet, owner and founder of Coloured Goodies. In this feature Ellen talks about her struggles, experiences and lessons learned. Have a seat and take a moment, because this lady has a story to tell. Enjoy!
My name is Ellen Brudet, 51 years young, partner of Marlon, mother of two boys (15 and 29). As a person I am outgoing, honest, spontaneous, a true go-getter and I always see the positive side of things. On February 14th in 2016, I became the proud owner of the Coloured Goodies Shop. It was, and still is, the first Black Doll giftshop in the Netherlands and in Europe.
My mother was a white woman, my father was a black man from Surinam. I am a very proud ‘Moksi baby’ as they say in Surinamese or as I call it ‘a double blood’ (in the Netherlands they call mixed babies ‘half bloods’ but that doesn’t make any sense to me!). In addition to everything I have mentioned above, I am a COPD patient (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), and I live on 30% lung capacity. However, this did not stop me from realizing my big dream despite all setbacks.
I started working when I was 15. My first job was in the prison system, in the bread kitchen. After obtaining my diplomas, I went to work in the office of that same prison system. Until I was diagnosed with COPD in 2004 and I wasn’t fit enough to go back to work for a while. In that period I did everything. A lot of volunteering with youth, youth care, tram driver and all kinds of administrative jobs. I did this until about 2008 when I couldn’t go back to work because of the COPD. In 2012 I was seriously ill and spent 4 months in the hospital. In that time I really searched for what I wanted, what I am really good at and that is Coloured Goodies!
I spent 9 months doing an entrepreneurial course through Women at Work and started to fully focus on Coloured Goodies. In order to do that, I completely changed my mindset to get me there. My mantra is; I am going to make this a success, I will succeed. I have deliberately chosen to go for my passion and not to let my illness get in the way.
The foundation of Coloured Goodies
The foundation for Coloured Goodies was laid in 1988 when my first son was born and I went looking for a birth announcement with a black baby. There was none! Years later in 2006 I started with cards. I started with a home printer to print cards with black illustrations myself. I really started from scratch.
Besides cards, I always thought of what my mother always told me. When I was 9 years old, she had searched the country to find me a black doll. When she finally found one, I did not want it because it did not look like me. From that moment on I knew I had to do something about the lack of black dolls and black illustrations and I started working on it. In 2016 I set up a crowdfunding to finance my first batch of ‘afro dolls’. We made that happen. Nowadays, we have expanded our range of products and our range of dolls has also been expanded with; vitiligo, albino, freckles and birthmarks, just to name a few. That is our goal; a doll for everyone to recognize themselves in.
Besides dolls and cards, we now also sell baby gifts such as bibs, t-shirts and bags, and we also give workshops.
Coloured Goodies is now located in a retail space, but I have spent years selling my products on the marketplace. Through all kinds of weather. People walked past my dolls because they didn’t get it; it wasn’t “familiar”. But I knew that I had a great (and necessary) concept. I wanted a physical store for a long time, but my concept was not seen as interesting by many people. I had to deal with a lot of judgment and have been rejected everywhere. Until someone came by in 2016 who believed in my concept and made the effort to help me get my current store. Although I faced adversity everywhere, I continued to believe in my idea. I continued to visualize and stick to my concept.
Coloured Goodies philosophy and future
Coloured Goodies is for everyone. Every child should be able to recognize themselves in a doll. ‘Ordinary’ black dolls and custom made dolls with vitiligo, birthmarks, albino, whatever; we try to create a doll for everyone. Our custom made dolls are handmade. They have been painted with non-toxic paint by a friend of Coloured Goodies. Corina Klaasens . Our dolls resemble real black babies, from the hair to the buttocks.
Colored Goodies really stands for connecting. We will never sell white dolls here, you will find them enough in other stores. I think it is fantastic that we can complement each other. It should be the most normal thing in the world that children have different dolls. Not just white, and not just black.
A dream of mine is to stand at the ‘Huishoudbeurs’ (this is an annual Dutch fair where mostly beauty, fashion, interior design and lifestyle retailers showcase their brand and products) with my dolls. In addition, I would like more outlets and I am always open to more collaborations.
Before you start following your dream; realize that it is a long way. Success does not come overnight. Have patience. Do something you have a passion for? Do not chase the money but do something you believe in. Continue to believe in what you do. Visualize and keep your faith. Ultimately you will reach your goals.
A few weeks ago, rapper The Game posted about the vitiligo doll he had bought for his daughter from Coloured Goodies. Ellen has been regularly seen and heard on the news since then. Not only here but also in the United States.
Where can you find and purchase Coloured Goodies:
Address: Van der Pekstraat 75, 1031 CT Amsterdam (North), The Netherlands. We are open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10.00 a.m. till 03.00 p.m. On Mondays we are closed, but if you make an appointment we can accommodate you. Feel free to contact us by e-mail:email@example.com
Would you like to share your story to inspire others. Get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org