Why should secular households have all the fun? For years, its been pretty slim pickings if you're looking for Catholic themed religious toys for children. Now, a Chicago area Catholic woman is changing that. Chantal Baros Wilson learned about this first hand when she tried to find collectable Catholic dolls for her daughter. Most professional doll manufactures don't make religious themed dolls, and the ones that do exist were either too expensive, not suitable for children, or had outdated religious imagery. Wilson decided to take matters into her own hands, and created the Shining Light Dolls company.
Ms. Baros Wilson started by creating dolls based upon images of the Blessed Mother. She created different figurines based on various Mary images around the world: Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Czestochowa, Our Lady of Knock and Our Lady of Guadalupe. When the dolls first hit the market a year ago, Our Lady of Guadalupe became an instant best-seller, so she decided to release 11 different Mary dolls in all, with the theme of “The Virgin Mary Around The World”.
Of course, just having images of Mary would limit the appeal of Catholic dolls, so Chantal Baros Wilson has begun to add other saints to the collection. Last fall and winter she added St. Nicholas and St. Patrick. She plans to add saints such as Padre Pio, St. Joseph and St. Therese of Lisieux in the future. Each doll is made out of rotocast vinyl, stand about three and a half inches tall, and come with an insert featuring a biography of the figure, along with a prayer and other information. Our Lady of Fatima is the next doll to be released by the Shining Light Dolls company. The dolls are suitable for kids of all ages.
The dolls cost $12.99 each and can be purchased at Amazon.com, theCatholicCompany.com, and more than 100 Catholic shops in the United States and Canada. 10% of all profits go to different Catholic charitable organizations. You can learn more about the dolls at the company website, www.shininglightdolls.com.
Remarkably,Chantal Wilson had no experience in designing or making toys prior to starting the business. She graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago, but was trained as an oil painter. When founding Shining Light Dolls, every aspect of the business was self-taught. She had to learn various graphic design programs to create the dolls, and find a factory who would manufacture them in bulk and do so relatively cheap. She also designs all the inserts and packaging for the dolls. She has now sold more than 5,000 dolls and recouped the initial investment. Eventually she hopes to get her dolls into secular mainstream stores.
Lots of Chicago Catholics talk about doing something to make Catholicism mainstream and fun for kids, but here's one lady who took the initiative to do so. Chantal Baros Wilson, I salute you!