Canada-based early learning educator, Andile Pfupa, talks about how she pivoted after job loss due to the Covid pandemic and created a diverse multicultural toy store for all children. Her shop is for children from various ethnicities and backgrounds that have little representation in the mainstream media.
How are you doing? How would you describe your life right now in just six words? I am experiencing a huge change at the moment! It feels like my life changed over night and I am just trying to adjust. I went from being a teacher to being laid off due to COVID and now I am a shop owner making headlines. It has been a whirlwind.
What was the best advice you have received about life, courage, love, business, anything you would like to share? Go for your purpose. And through following what you were brought to this earth to accomplish-doors will be opened.
What are some things you and your family are doing to manage during Covid 19? I am an early learning teacher. And, I have managed to use the monthly stay home incentive checks the Canadian government issues to complete courses as well as start my online business.
Let’s change the subject to something lighter and fun. What was your favorite toy as a child and why? I was mostly into books as a child. I had barbies and some beautiful dolls, the best an African child could have, but what I truly remember the most were my books! I still gift my nephew and nieces books every birthday and holiday. We think this love for reading might be genetic because my mother is an avid reader as well.
If you were a kid now, what would your favorite toy be? The puzzles from Puzzle & Bloom of course and the Nobuhle doll from South Africa is beautifully made with 4c hair. I have yet to find another doll as beautiful.
Do you think it is important for kids to see themselves in their toys, books, media, etc? How important is diversity and inclusion in your eyes? As an Early Learning Educator, I see how the lack of representation affects children of all ethnicities and backgrounds. It is not only Black people who have inferiority complexes, but this is also found in all children who are not white. We need to represent all children and their cultures respectfully in order to tackle racism. When one group is represented above others it reflects in their performance. Jane Elliot did the Blue Eye Test and the children with the group of eyes she elevated did better and even collaborated with each other to work on projects and excelled. I am not saying that this is true for all children, but I believe that this is the main reason why we see some groups as a collective thrive over others.
I also tend to see children who are lighter be given more attention in childcare settings because their teachers were also programmed through the media to elevate light skin while the darker skinned children are often ignored and even exhibit low self esteem and are unable to express themselves.
Jane Elliot test: Click Here!
We see that you created an online toy store rooted in diversity. Tell us more about your amazing website and what you do. What made you start it? How long have you been operating? I have always been interested in black businesses and have always been researching what's out there and the importance of buying black. The idea of opening a shop came to me last Christmas 2020 when I purchased a doll from South Africa for my niece. I purchased it for $150CAD. I decided to create a hub where all parents can shop for what they need and not worry about the cost of shipping.
What advice do you have for other creators and entrepreneurs? We cannot rely on big corporations and white people to think about us and create toys that represent us, we now have to create our own. White people have a limited understanding of people of color and they don’t always do a good job representing us. Only we can tell our stories, only we can depict ourselves in a beautiful light that is true to who we are. So, I encourage anyone who has an idea to start creating it, especially Africans. We have the youngest population in the world currently and the children are going to need toys.
How can we find you online? What is your website, social media links, etc? Please share.