After trying to find a suitable doll for his five-year-old daughter, businessman Meshack Mulaudzi, a chartered accountant, went on a quest to create his own doll. He says after spending four years as a lead investment analyst for one of South Africa's top petroleum pension fund, he started his own investment firm called Black Pearl Investments and he started designing dolls as a hobby project while waiting for his investment license. “I was looking for a black doll for my daughter but I couldn’t find one,” recalls Mulaudzi who is originally from Duthuni village in Venda, Limpopo.
As the ones he found were not pretty or overpriced. That’s when he decided to design one for her himself. It cost R50 000 to design a mould and the factory he found couldn’t produce just one doll so they settled on a minimum order of 50 dolls.
“I realised that my daughter can't play with all the 50 dolls. That’s when I decided to sell the remaining 49 to recover production costs.” This was the birth of Kaelo Black Beauty (named after his daughter Kaelo), a company that designs, manufactures and distributes Black African dolls to the market. He says Mahle is a Zulu word meaning beautiful, and that the company seeks to use the dolls to instil identity and self-love in children especially in those of African descent.
Although today retail stores are interested in the dolls his greatest marketing tool for the company has been social media. “The response was incredible, it was insane. We had over 5000 likes and over 1000 comments in one day. It was a Friday evening.”