There I was one day just flicking aimlessly through Instagram when I stumbled upon an artist’s profile. I stopped my aimlessness and went through every single picture on her account. I was so so fascinated by these “dolls” that I couldn’t help myself.

Who is the artist?

Her name is Manoushka and she is a Dutch national living in Durban for more than 6 years. She has 2 adorable daughters that inspire her.

Manoushka studied theater and was on stage in the Netherlands for 10 years – and then she came here. She was a product designer and recently resigned to focus on Noush Projects.

Noush Kraal artist

What does Manoushka Kraal make?

I want to describe the dolls as authentic African décor, but it’s not – because it’s so much more. These figurines capture African soul, colour, vibrancy, liveliness… but they are made so unexpectedly different.

Let’s start at the beginning. Manoushka was inspired by plastic Clonette dolls that you get in Europe, especially the Netherlands and France, but they are from Ghana. Clonette dolls were originally inspired by wooden African dolls, but lacked African flavour and features. So Manoushka, inspired by Clonette dolls, created her own doll with African features.

The first wooden doll was created 3 years ago and now there are 8 different resin casts.

You can still order a wooden original and it is available in different sizes. The resin casts also come in a range of different sizes, but each particular individual figurine comes in one size.

She also makes a mermaid plushie, Maria Mermaid, which I might add is the cutest thing after a kitten.

Noush Projects Maria Mermaid

The figures

Everybody has to draw inspiration from the people around them, so I had to ask if her little girls also gave her some ideas/inspiration.

“The bunny element comes directly from the plastic Clonette. My eight year old Hazel and her dear little friend Lily Rose love mermaids so that why I came to grow some a fish tail 🙂 And I’m so often inspired by my eight year olds drawings. I created for example a bear and bunny holding a tiny mermaid purely because of a drawing Hazel made.”

Naming and colouring your creations

Each doll range has a name, whatever the original wooden doll is named that is the name of the resin models. The names of the dolls include:

  • Maria Mermaid
  • Zodwa Mermaid
  • Thando
  • Turtle Anna
  • Skippy Sal
  • Koala Kate
  • Chrissie
  • Ginger Rose

The dolls are available in a range of colours from black, white, sage (the same colour as they have on their wall at home) mint green, light blue, turquoise, yellow or pink. Manoushka also encourages customers to have a doll painted the same colour as their walls – because the gold she adds will just make it pop.

The bestsellers

Each country or city has its own bestseller, but overall the mermaids are the most popular.

On expansion plans…

As with any small business, when you outsource, you pay more. On the other hand if you try to do it all yourself…

There might be more plushies soon, plus she has a couple of wooden originals lined up to make more moulds of.

…and she is working with Laurien Murphy on a brand called Perfect_Imperfect. They are currently working on a whole little range… so keep your eyes peeled!

So, where can you get your hands on them?

If you don’t see them at a shop you can order from her directly! Just drop Manoushka an email at She has a website, but it is still in the “tweaking stage (when there is time someday)” and you can also comment on Instagram on the item you want.



Susann is a travel, parenting, beauty and lifestyle blogger in Johannesburg, South Africa.


  1. Se manifique! such beautiful & detailed techinique used. #madrespect & #madlove for this artist & her love for her work.

    • Susann Reply

      I know right! How in the world can something so beautiful not be everywhere????

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