Environmentally Friendly Handmade Dolls Spread Positivity

By Rehab Saad

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Talented Egyptian Passant Saied created her own line of handmade dolls called ‘PAF Dolls”, which are characterized by their unique features, high quality fabric and the fact that they are safe for children and are environmentally friendly.

Saied graduated from the American University in Cairo in 2005 with a degree in Political Science & International Relations, later going on to receive her MBA from the Edinburgh Business School in 2012.

Passant was not enthusiastic about pursuing a political career, she was more inspired to start her career in Business Development at the Ministry of Telecommunication, managing entrepreneurship programs and supporting young professionals start up their business in the ICT Sector. This was followed by becoming a Business Development Manager at the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA).

“In parallel to my work in the business development field, I never forgot my childhood fancy for drawing and painting dolls on acrylic. Along the past years and before taking serious steps to develop my business, I created many oil paintings and acrylic drawings, which I kept in my room to be seen only by my family, relatives and friends who highly admired my work.”

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Inspiration and Early Career

“Being an entrepreneur and studying abroad enriched my market awareness and I learned a lot about the world of business, becoming more attentive to any opportunity to develop my idea,” Saied said when asked about what encouraged her to start her own business.

She also mentioned how she was influenced by the cartoon pictures printed on copybooks during her time abroad, and upon her return to Cairo, she decided to print her drawings of dolls on a number of notebooks that were then distributed in a few stationary shops to test people’s reaction. The feedback she received was very positive, and this encouraged her to develop her products and learn tailoring soft dolls. Her enthusiasm for handicrafts, specifically making dolls, was re-ignited and she decided to develop her artistic skills and talent further.

“My grandmother always supported me and she taught me the basic techniques of tailoring and dress making. I also bought some videos from Italy and Switzerland as well as related books from the USA that helped me create the first soft doll, and when I made several, I turned to a friend to help me sell a couple dozen at her bazaar,” she explained.

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Marketing and Selling the Dolls

In 2015, Saied launched a page called “Passant Art Factory” to sell her products online. The page included handcrafted soft dolls, dolls crafted on pillows, and painted on canvas, printed on copybooks and mugs.

Although there was a high demand of the products, she re-directed her business to focus more on the soft dolls to create a unique business form.

“When I decided to narrow my focus, I cancelled the page and launched a new website entitled ‘PAF Dolls’. The dolls I make have heart-shaped mouths that emphasize the importance of speaking loving words, which inspired me to have them available during many of the festive holidays to spread love in a special way,” Saied explains.

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Expanding the Business

In December 2016, the Egypt Office of the International Union of Puppet Art (UNIMA) in cooperation with the Cairo Puppet Theatre organized an art exhibition which included 36 artists and 230 women, as well as puppets from professional artists, amateurs and students. Saied’s dolls that were on display at the exhibition were highly admired by the visitors, which encouraged her to resign from her job and devote herself entirely to expanding her project, not only in Egypt and the Arab World, but internationally as well.

“When I began sewing dolls, I was creating all the designs and choosing all the patterns, colors and fabric myself, as well as solely taking care of the marketing, quality control and finances. However, I did not want to grow alone, and so one of my targets was to support low income women by providing them with training that will allow them to help me create and deliver high quality handmade dolls. For the time being, I am outsourcing until I can establish the company officially,” she mentions.

“My dream is to develop the ‘PAF dolls’ to become a famous Egyptian brand name in the market one day, like the Disney characters. I am looking forward to have this name printed on all T-shirts, dresses, toys…etc,” Saied added.

“My dream is even further than that. I am currently working to animate the dolls and turn them into cartoon characters, to deliver a message, and communicate values ​​and principles of positive behavior to children, plus developing children’s imagination into creative talents,” she concludes.

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