Nungshiba Dolls Become Means of Empowerment For Naga Women


With her father seriously ill and her family undergoing a severe financial crisis, Zuboni Humtsoe knew that she would have to start earning immediately to be able to contribute to her family’s income.

Graduating from college in 2011 Humtsoe decided to follow her passion and set up a small business with the tiny capital of  3500 Rupees (60 USD approx) that she had saved from her college scholarship.

While most of her relatives advised her to try for a government job, Humtsoe had always wanted to do something different. Taking inspiration from beautiful Japanese dolls, she decided to use left over fabrics to make beautiful handcrafted dolls that  would be marketed under their brand, ‘Precious Me Love’ or PML. The idea behind this was to up-cycle fabrics and reduce carbon footprints while simultaneously empowering more local women in the process.

Heart winning Nungshiba Dolls
Heart winning Nungshiba Dolls

Over the years, Humtsoe worked really hard, taught herself, experimented, innovated, and kept herself open to feedback and criticism. She also surrounded herself with genuine and positive people who inspired her to push herself and never give up. With time, everything started falling into place.

Today, PML sells everything from vintage clothing and fashion accessories to a variety of tribal handcrafts. However, their signature products remains the traditional Nungshiba dolls. The dolls have been named Nungshiba (which means ‘love’ in Manipuri) in honour of PML’s first crafts designer, Babita Meitei, a Manipuri.

From their humble beginnings, PML has steadily grown to become one of the fastest growing online fashion brands from Nagaland. Today, PML employs 10 girls, including a differently-abled girl. Inspired by the beautiful tribal women of Nagaland, each Nungshiba doll is carefully designed and takes a day to make with two expert crafts women working together tirelessly. The end result is beautiful handmade dolls that wear unique mekhlas (traditional wrap-arounds worn by the Naga women of each tribe) with intricate pattern of beads and hand-stitched designs. Humtsoe says that they take special care to ensure that each each Nungshiba handcrafted doll is special, unique and a joy that will last forever.

Zuboni Humtsoe with PM Modi at the Hornbill Festival 2014
Zuboni Humtsoe with PM Modi at the Hornbill Festival 2014


Humstsoe describes PML as an extension of her dreams, her personality and her ambition. Recalling how tough it was initially to run her business with the little money she had, she says that it had been tough journey but she was glad that she had made it.

A talented entrepreneur who wishes to be a philanthropist one day, Humtsoe wants to build PML into a brand that celebrates fashion, creativity, women-power and freedom. Her mission, as she states, is to build long-lasting relationships with her customers and clients by providing exceptional quality and customer services. She is also working to make PML a platform that offers a plethora of opportunities for the local youth – PML has been regularly featuring and promoting talented young models, photographers, stylists, seamstresses, and doll-makers from Nagaland.

Rebelling against family pressures and financial hurdles, the women at PML are proof that there is no limit to what you can do or achieve when you believe in yourself and your dreams.

Nungshiba Dolls Winning over the world
Nungshiba Dolls Winning over the world


As Humtsoe, an inspiration to many women in Nagaland, says, “You can do anything or be anybody you want to be, but you have to believe and never give up. Always remember no dream is too big and no dreamer too small.”

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