Mel & Steff rag dolls are lovingly handmade little personalities!
Mel & Steff rag dolls are handmade by skilled artisans. Each rag doll is individually handcrafted. Therefore, our rag dolls are just like little people, some cheeky, some cute and no two are alike!
Please read our story!
Mel & Steff rag dolls are handmade by skilled artisans, with meticulous attention to detail, right down to their cute little button noses.
Each rag doll is individually cut, sewn & stuffed. Faces are hand drawn & then embroidered with the finest of stitches. Yarn for hair is wrapped around a template, then cut & sewn, ready to be attached by hand to the doll. Outfits are cut & sewn individually.
There are no factory lines at Mel & Steff.
Therefore, our rag dolls are just like little people, some cheeky, some cute and no two are alike!
On a veranda overlooking a garden, in which we grow and share the fruits of banana and star fruit trees, a mere handful of cheery women sit chatting, barely listening to the sound of a blaring radio. More a place to catch up on the newest gossip than anything resembling a factory environment, this is the heart of Mel & Steff, made in Sri Lanka, designed in Australia.
Every detail of Mel & Steff rag dolls, from their cheeky smiles to their fashionable outfits are handmade by women, who are also care givers. Most work at their own pace, from home, while a handful come in to the “heart of the nest” as their personal schedules permit.
Mel & Steff was set up by a mother, for mothers. The dream was to make it easy for women to earn a living, while meeting the demands and time constraints of motherhood. Many years ago, as a new mother herself, our founder knew a mother’s priority is, and always should be, her children.
“Mothers are mothers, and children are our priority”
In 1983, when we started making toys, Sri Lanka had no day care centres. Mel & Steff found that women often stopped working once they had babies. Women became economically dependent on others, after marriage, often resulting in a feeling of helplessness about their futures. To help alleviate this, the entire employment structure of Mel & Steff is founded on a work-from-home premise for women of the urban poor, allowing mothers to work while tending to the needs of their children.
Ayanthi, a qualified lawyer, was attracted to her field of study for the same reason she set up the framework and core values of Mel & Steff: She wanted to make a difference in the lives of women in Sri Lanka. When she first started working, she felt that a leading cause of abuse of women, and children, was financial dependency and the need to leave children, often with anyone who would offer, to undertake any available form of employment.
Here, at Mel & Steff, we maintained the following outlook, while seeking to empower women, enabling them to support their families in multiple ways.
“It is a given that anything related to family and children comes first, and the women who work with us will first attend to it”
In addition to their pay and flexible work style, all items necessary for the start of school, at the beginning of each year, are gifted by Mel & Steff to the children.
Furthermore, on request, all our children are provided with pre-school and after care facilities and transport.