Ellen - Colourful Goodies
Ellen Brudet (56) owns the inclusive doll store Colourful Goodies on Van der Pekstraat, where she sells, among other things, afro dolls and dolls with various disorders. Ellen has lived in Noord all her life. She has two sons (35 and 21) and is engaged to Marlon (49).
When Ellen was little, her mother was her biggest role model. That beautiful red hair, that white skin, those shining blue eyes: she was the one whom she wanted to identify with. 'So when she came home with a black doll when I was nine, I wasn't very enthusiastic. It was only when I became a mother myself that I saw that we have a big problem with representation in the Netherlands.' Therefore, the inclusive doll store of Ellen, the daughter of a Surinamese father and a Dutch mother, originated because she missed something herself. 'The dolls, books and other goodies in my store should be a fair reflection of society,' she said.
As diverse as Amsterdam is, Ellen believes the representation of all those people in the city's stores is flawed. 'In my opinion, we are falling behind, which is a bad thing. Amsterdam society has people with numerous skin colours, but if you become a grandmother of a dark-skinned child, just try to find a suitable greeting card.' Fortunately, Ellen sees that more and more Amsterdam organisations are committed to inclusion. Still, they could be more consistent in this as far as she is concerned: 'Normalise inclusion and actually show that everyone in Amsterdam is allowed to be here. Hanging the occasional rainbow flag or profiting from media hype for two months is not enough.'
Ellen was born and raised in Amsterdam-Noord, and there’s probably no one who will ever get her away from ‘her’ district. 'I rarely leave my own little island,' she says, laughing. 'I love the people and the togetherness in Noord. I also have that feeling in the rest of Amsterdam, mind you. I feel just as much at home in the Jordaan, and when I walked the Utrechtsestraat a few weeks ago, despite the many tourists, it also felt like 'my' Amsterdam. That's a feeling you can't describe - I also had it when I first visited Suriname and Curaçao. It's a feeling of coming home.'
In all these years, Ellen has seen the city develop quite a bit. 'The gentrification in Noord has been the biggest change. That is nothing bad as long as there is a balance between the old and new residents. Aunt Corrie from around the corner should be able to keep talking to Nicole from Overhoeks, is what I say.' In any case, all those ‘new’ residents, and therefore new customers, are an excellent motivator for Ellen from a business point of view. 'One day, I want to expand. I want one big building where everything comes together: toys, education, a library. For example, I want little kids to be able to take their dolls to the doctor with us so they come better prepared for their own hospital visits. The plans are there, so I am far from finished with my battle!'