BROCKTON — Widline Pyrame started her business, Fusion Dolls, selling multicultural dolls with Black and brown skin and textured hair online after she was laid off from her job during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019.
The goal of Fusion Dolls has been to represent children through dolls, which is something she recognized the importance of by studying social work and working with children.
She wanted to get her dolls to as many children as she could. In two years, that effort has grown from selling at pop-up events around Boston and southeastern Massachusetts, kiosks at Brockton’s Westgate Mall and soon a storefront in the mall.
“There’s a lot of love for us in the city,” Pyrame said. “It feels like a dream come true.”
The Fusion Dolls store is expected to open at Westgate Mall between the end of September and October. It is located along the walkway to the right before Burlington Coat Factory.
Pyrame said the space is a former phone store, and she is working on getting fixtures to set up her merchandise.
She wants to add a picture station for kids to take pictures with the dolls, including a doll box they can pose inside of.
There will be a place for cultural books, including the one Pyrame wrote about her hair journey, will be on display along with outfits for the dolls, children and their mothers.
She also would like to hold events at the space, too, like ones where children can learn to do their doll’s hair.
Her first kiosk opened in February and by May Pyrame added a second one to display more dolls, accessories and other goods, like bags and bonnets for women.
Pyrame said the kiosks at the mall have been getting good traffic. People have also reached out to her with encouragement.
Parents and grandparents who see the dolls have told her: “Where were you when I was growing up?” and are happy that their children can have dolls that resemble them, she said.
She also travels to Boston and around the South Shore to sell dolls at pop-up events. Like at the kiosk, Pyrame said it’s a chance to meet people and trade stories.
Online and in person, she has been adding dolls with different skin tones, hair textures, outfits and accessories.
Many of her new doll offerings have been driven mostly by direct feedback from children customers who have visited Fusion Dolls’ vendor tables or kiosks, Pyrame said.
One of the new additions is an albino doll with light hair, skin and eyes. Pyrame said a girl and her mother saw the doll and said it looked just like her. A similar experience happened with an adult woman who saw herself in the doll, she said.
“Representation really does matter,” she said. “When you see yourself in a doll, you can say, ‘It’s me.'”
Pyrame said each time she sees children and people happy about her dolls, that confirms that she is in the right place doing work that she is passionate about. She said she didn’t expect to have a store.
Before Pyrame started Fusion Dolls in 2019, she worked as a social worker and with children.
She uses skills she learned as a social worker in her business, like how she is able to talk with people.
“It was really a gift that I have to connect with people,” Pyrame said.
Seeing her business grow, Pyrame said everything has been growing step by step as planned.
Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when businesses have struggled or closed down, she said she feels happy that Fusion Dolls has found success and that she has been able to share that with staff who have joined the business.
Looking ahead, Pyrame wants to offer more representation by selling dolls of more nationalities and outfits that reflect their cultures.
She wants to connect with authors to be able to sell cultural books in her store.
Later down the line, she said she would like to open another Fusion Dolls location.
Pyrame also wants empower young people and mentor them, especially in the area of entrepreneurship.
“I encourage everyone to follow your dreams and don’t put yourself in a box,” she said.
Staff writer Mina Corpuz can be reached by email at [email protected] You can follow her on Twitter @mlcorpuz. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Enterprise today.