Love Nonku Handmade
Nonku Tutani Jijita makes traditional heirloom rag dolls and accessories from her home studio in the UK. Love Nonku Handmade dolls have been featured in Essence Magazine, and in 2016, Nonku was named Entrepreneur of the Year, by the Zimbabwe International Women’s Awards (ZIWA).
I have had the honor of knowing Nonku since she was a young girl, and I am grateful for the opportunity to share her inspiring story and creativity with you.
OLC: What first inspired you to make dolls?
Nonku: I was always creative, and used to make rag dolls with my grandmother. When I had my own daughter, that creativity was sparked back in me as I wanted her to also enjoy the experience of a traditional doll like I had.
The meals for children concept came forth from a passion of mine. I am a huge empath and was always bothered when I see children suffer. I always thought that there was nothing I could do as an individual and always thought it was just the job of the charities and corporate giants.
I came to the realisation that had to be the change I wanted to see and I could make a difference, no matter how small. Merging my gifts of creativity and my purpose was the perfect recipe that brought me both joy and excitement.
OLC: How did you get started, and how have you been able to sustain your work?
Nonku: I started making custom dolls to individuals in 2012. A lot of orders would come over the Christmas holidays so I would make a batch for that period.
The dolls are getting more popular now and I have since introduced accessories to go with them. I am currently able to sustain it as I only make small quantities at a time because I work alone.
OLC: What has been your greatest challenge?
Nonku: My greatest challenge now, is to try and expand production to keep up with demand. I would love to enlist the help of some very talented women in Zimbabwe, which will in turn empower them through employment.
The current limiting constraints are the resources to set up my workshop in Zimbabwe. Once I have a workshop set up, this will mean more products can be made and consequently, more children can be fed through the doll sales.
OLC: What has been your greatest joy in doing this work?
Nonku: My greatest joy was realising that I could merge the two things I love the most without sacrificing one or the other. Being able to do my crafts and give back at the same time is very fulfilling.
OLC: What impact has all of this had on you?
Nonku: Being able to give back to the community has humbled me so much and made me realize that only love will heal the world and not politics, logic and reasoning.
OLC: How do you hope that it will impact or how has it impacted others?
Nonku: I sincerely hope I can be an inspiration to others so that they believe in themselves in the knowing that they too can be the change. The more love we spread, the better our world will be.
OLC: What keeps you inspired/committed to serve in this way?
Nonku: I am always inspired by the potential and clarity children have. The young children coming forth now are of a different knowing and have great potential to transform our earth only if they are given the platform to do so.
I believe if a child goes hungry, they feel dejected, lonely, weak and cannot express their true gifts. A healthy child has hope.
OLC: What is next for the continuation of your legacy action?
Nonku: I hope to inspire creative entrepreneurs to express their gifts and offer love at the same time. I would also love for my business model to copied all over the world so it continues on forever.
OLC: What words of advice or inspiration would you offer someone who wants to serve through everyday acts of service?
Nonku: Start with where you are and with what you have. A little goes a long way. Do not wait until tomorrow for now is the only time that exists.
To learn more about Love Nonku Handmade, view previous collections (on Instagram) and to purchase a doll and make a difference, visit: