When Sahar Wahbeh’s family moved from Lebanon to the United States to escape civil war, they brought just $500 and four suitcases with them. Non-essential items, like Sahar’s beloved Strawberry Shortcake, had to stay behind. Sahar didn’t think much about dolls again until she had her own daughter and couldn’t find any that lived up to her aesthetic sensibilities or her belief in timeless toys: ”I’m not a prude, but come on,” Sahar says of the done-up versions she found on the shelves. So, after taking a trip to New York’s Garment District to source fabrics, she made her own—and, from there, developed a whole gorgeously minimal, covetable-for-all-ages collection.
But, for her, it’s not just about playthings. “I founded Dumyé as a living lesson to my daughter. The dolls are all made from beginning to end in my studio in Dubai,” explains Sahar. Using organic materials and repurposing scraps, the company has a buy-a-doll-gift-a-doll model, with the giving component of its operation growing all the time. Right now, Sahar is developing the curriculum for a doll-making workshop for children living in a refugee camp on the Lebanon-Syria border—a back-to-her-roots way to do good if we ever saw one. —kate cavanaugh