Our dolls are handcrafted with meticulous attention to detail, right down to their cute little button noses. Every detail of Mel & Steff™ dolls, from their hand-drawn and embroidered cheeky smiles, fashionable outfits and hand-attached hair, is stitched 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.
On a veranda overlooking a garden, in which we grow and share the fruits of banana and star fruit trees, a smaller group 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 an office environment, this is the heart of Mel & Steff. They do the product finishes, quality assurance, inventory management and other logistical and administrative functions.
The business was set up in Sri Lanka by a woman for women. The dream was to make it easy for women to earn a living, while meeting the demands and time constraints of motherhood & family responsibilities.
In 1983 when we started making toys, we found that women often stopped working once they had babies due to a lack of day care centres. Women became economically dependent on others, 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, allowing mothers to work while tending to the needs of their children.
Ayanthi, a graduate in law, 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 1st 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.
|The main ethos of the Mel & Steff business model is to empower underprivileged women to become economically independent after becoming a family carer, while maintaining the highest international design, quality and safety standards in our products.|
Our marketing and distribution operations are based in Sydney, Australia.