North London's Cultural Guide

Local artist Alisha Lestrade

Local Talent Q&A: Alisha Lestrade, doll designer, 39

Our summer-long showcase of the area's eclectic mix of artists, photographers and makers continues

What’s your practice? I’m owner of bespoke doll company Thimble & Doll. I started making my dolls because I couldn’t find any for my two young nieces with skin that looked like theirs.

How does it work? Customers can design what they look like by choosing complexion, hair colour, style and clothing. I then personalise them with a name or initials. I have a range of ten tones, so it’s very representational. I’ve also started making dolls that have features such as birthmarks, after getting a custom order for one.

How does the area inspire you? I grew up in Kentish Town and have lived here all my life, so I’ve seen it change in so many ways, for better and worse. I’m moved by the way the neighbourhood pulls together in a crisis. Lots of locals go out of their way to help others.

Doll designer Alisha Lestrade
Dolls designed by Alisha Lestrade. Image: Thimble and Doll

What are you most proud of? A doll I made for a six-year-old girl being bullied because she was brown-skinned and had big curly hair. At school, her hair was pulled and she was told her skin was dirty. She would come home from school distraught. So I made the gift and it just happened to arrive on her birthday. I received the most lovely thank you letter – the child cherished the doll because it looked just like her, she said it was beautiful and made her feel that way too. Her mum said I’d helped bring her daughter’s smile back. It was very emotional thinking something so little could make such a big effect on someone’s self-confidence.


More info here and Instagram.

Main image: Gabrielle Taylor

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