Often associated with children, dolls have always been an integral part of childhood. We have seen the evolution of dolls from time to time. Dolls used to be wooden figures or plastic and clay figures with fabric costumes attached to it, and today, they come in so many shapes and materials. Particularly, Stay Curious Toys created magnetic dolls with changeable traditional Asian costumes attached to them. In this Small Business Spotlight, EnVi chatted via email with Eunice Chen, founder of Stay Curious Toys, on reimagining doll forms and fusing them with beloved traditional attires all over Asia.

Life Before Stay Curious Toys

“Growing up in Taiwan really instilled pride in myself, since people around me are Asian. It gives me the confidence to be who I am,” Eunice told EnVi. Her self-esteem never deterred even after moving to the States. Despite the issue with Asians not being represented well in various aspects, she stood her ground and continued to bring out Asian culture to the world. Eunice herself experienced how she continuously felt like outsiders and was pressured to live up to expectations or prove herself. She did, however, also see the resilience of other immigrants and the tales of their families. This inspired her to give more spotlight on dolls that highlight the heritage of Asian culture, which is not represented a lot in both Taiwan and the United States. 

Eunice’s dream was to become an artist and fashion designer. After teaching for 10 years, she decided to pursue animation back in 2020. “I started from nothing! Just googling and watching YouTube videos, also teaching myself and building my portfolio in order to get a job in the animation industry,” Eunice said. Fast forward to a year later, Eunice secured her first job as an animation designer in a Disney show and landed her first book illustration deal.

Poking People’s Curiosity 

“I love drawing Asian princesses with their traditional clothing, it’s something I’ve never had as a kid.” she admitted. Her drawings of paper Asian princess dolls blew up when Eunice, out of her own enjoyment, posted her work on Instagram to celebrate AAPI Month. Since then, people kept asking her to transform these drawings into toys.

The name “Stay Curious” came from Eunice’s wish that the toys she designed will help people stay curious of other people and things happening around the world. “With all the nasty things going on in the world, I think the best way to build bridges and peace is to stay curious and ask questions, even to the things that might scare us,” she said.

Diversity in Traditional Asian Attire

Eunice first started drawing Chinese and Korean attires, two cultures that she was the most familiar with. After that, she expanded her drawings to Southeast Asian culture. “I thought of my friends next and what kind of Asian they are, which are Malaysian, Cambodian, and Vietnamese.” Eunice felt Southeast Asian groups are still underrepresented in the AAPI community, so she decided to include them in her works. One of the attire is this Tibetan traditional dress, Chupa, a form of bold identity that has deep Buddhist values. Chupa has vibrant colors in a comfortable dress robe, added with blouse and necklace. The attire is known to be comfortable to wear and to walk, as the dress has extensions with enough leg room yet still having a slim silhouette. 

What’s cool about these clothes is that they are detachable, so you can change between a lot of dresses from different cultures with just one figure. Moreover, these dolls are equipped with accessories, such as lanterns, fans, and purses.

“Seeing and experiencing women supporting each other (and not competing) has been a breath of fresh air! There is enough room for all of us and we can rise together!” Eunice said. Stay Curious Toys is active on Instagram. Check out their page for more updates on their products!

Want to know more about other women-owned businesses? Check out Good Jamu Spotlight here!