Tag: black dolls

TOYS: Nigeria’s “‘Queens of Africa” Dolls Are Coming to America

queens of africa doll

article via eurweb.com

Back in 2007, a Nigerian businessman Taofick Okoya struck gold you could say when he founded the “Queens of Africa” doll line with the motto: “Empowering the African girl child.”

The “Queens of Africa” range of dolls highlight various African ethnicities, as well as a variety of African hairstyles (customers may opt for dolls rocking an afro, or alternatively one with braids or braid extensions), reports Forbes.

Okoya’s mission is to spread a message which enforces young black girls their self-esteem, allowing them from an early age to have role models they can relate to. This summer, Okoya and his posse of dolls will travel across several cities in the United States, to meet and greet American clients, while further expanding the Queens of Africa footprint.

‘I got into the doll business by chance. At that time my daughter was young, and I realized she was going through an identity crisis,’ Taofick tells me when I reach out to the Lagos-based founder over the phone. He further adds, ‘She wished she was white, and I was trying to figure out where that came from. I used to always buy her white dolls, and it never got to me that is was relevant which color her dolls were. On top of that, we have DSTV in Nigeria where children watch the Disney programs, and all her favorite characters were white. I started to understand why she’d feel the way she did, ‘cause it was all that she’d been exposed to,’ the Queens of Africa dolls creator explains.

The report goes on to say that even though the dolls’ body parts are manufactured in China, they are assembled in Nigeria. And here’s the good part. Taofick also empowers local communities of stay-at-home mothers, who make money off of braiding the dolls’ hair and creating outfits.

“It takes about three hours braiding the hair. One of these women has made 60,000 Naira (roughly $300) doing this.”

This summer Taofick will tour across New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Houston, throughout the months of June and July. In April he already made a first stop in Atlanta, to meet with wholesale buyers and customers, as part of the Coming to America tour. At present the dolls are already available for order to the American audience via Amazon, in addition to the Queens of Africa online store. On top of that, the dolls are sold by a Senegal-based retailer, as well as e-tailers based in France and Australia. Ghana, South Africa and Brazil, are next on his list.

‘We’re planning on taking part in American toy fairs where we can meet with retailers. Our ultimate goal is to be sold by the major stores in the US. I personally believe it will be less difficult to sell the dolls in America, compared to Nigeria. In Nigeria the doll culture is still being developed, so it’s easier to sell within a market that is already there, as opposed to having to create that market.’

You can get the FULL story at Forbes.

Buy/See the dolls at Amazon.

American Girl Debuts African-American Doll From Civil Rights Era

article via cbsnews.com

American Girl is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Since 1986, the business has sold more than 29 million dolls and more than 153 million books.

This summer, it will release a new historical doll. CBS News went where no cameras have been allowed before — inside the design studio to get the first exclusive look at Melody Ellison, the company’s third African American doll in its BeForever historical line.

For the last 30 years, American Girl dolls have brought countless smiles to faces of little girls.  “I think it’s that we stayed true to our mission and purpose and while it’s easy to call us a doll company, we’ve always seen ourselves as storytellers,” said Julia Prohaska, vice president of marketing.

Prohaska said their dolls come with books that tap into imaginations, while providing a rich history lesson.  “We put at the center stories and advice for girls that really are intended to help them be their personal best,” Prohaska said.

Continue reading “American Girl Debuts African-American Doll From Civil Rights Era”

Ava DuVernay’s Barbie Doll Sells Out Minutes After Hitting the Market

cvk2f8aueaealaa
Ava DuVernay Barbie (MATTEL)

Many people were eagerly anticipating the arrival of the Ava DuVernay doll Monday. From refreshing constantly on the Barbie Collection website to waiting for Mattel to release the link on Twitter, some were left disappointed when it came to actually being able to buy the doll. But there were others who were lucky as well as fast enough to purchase the doll.

Twenty minutes after Mattel tweeted the link to its Barbie site, DuVernay’s doll was sold out. Potential customers tweeted their anguish and dismay after not being able to make their purchase. Then Mattel informed everyone that the doll would be available shortly at Amazon.com.

Some people waited for Mattel to release the Amazon link, while others searched on Amazon for the doll. And there it was, available for preorder. Once word got around on social media that the doll was already on Amazon, it was every eager consumer for him or herself. Around 1:30 p.m. EST, Mattel finally tweeted the link to the Amazon.com site. But it was too late; the doll was already sold out.

More tears. More disappointment for those eagerly waiting to get their hands on the doll.

https://twitter.com/direct7000/status/673989886748131329?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

I’m pretty sure Mattel didn’t expect the doll to sell out, especially since the company hadn’t planned to mass-produce the doll. But how often is a doll made in the likeness of a great black filmmaker on the market? How about never.

The fact that DuVernay’s doll sold out within minutes of its release is a testament to the fact that representation matters. People want to see dolls in their image and in the image of those people they admire. If Mattel wants to continue to make an impact, someone in its R&D department better start doling out ideas about how to jump on this.

A DuVernay doll is just the beginning.

How about a Viola Davis doll? A Kerry Washington doll? A Denzel Washington doll? A Neil deGrasse Tyson? Idris Elba, anyone?

Remember back in the day when Cabbage Patch Kids dolls were all the rage? On Monday, DuVernay’s doll and the anticipation were the equivalent. Instead of fighting in stores, people were fighting against the clock and how fast they could refresh their browsers.

This tweet perfectly summed up the day:

article by Yesha Callahan via theroot.com

Taofick Okoya’s “Queens of Africa” Dolls are Taking on Barbie

/

Queens of Africa, the black doll line that’s outselling Barbie in Nigeria, started as a personal mission seven years ago. Taofick Okoya was frustrated that he couldn’t find a black doll on the market for his niece. “I happen to be the kind of person that doesn’t enjoy complaining and criticizing without taking any action,” the 43-year-old businessman tells ELLE.com. So he researched making a doll that Nigerian girls could identify with: one with their skin color and traditional African fashion.

“It became a frontline project for me due to the resistance the dolls received because of their color and outfits from most children and distributors,” he explains. “I spent about two years campaigning on the importance and benefits of dolls in the African likeness. During that process, I realized greater social issues such as low self esteem, which led to the passion to make a change in the coming generation. It’s been a tough journey but one I have enjoyed.”

Okoya created two lines of dolls, Queens of Africa (which come with three outfits, four accessories, and cost 1,300 to 3,500 naira, or $6.75 to $18.18) and Naija Princesses (which come with two outfits, two accessories, and cost 500-1,000 naira, or $2.60 to $5.19). Each doll represents a different African tribe (Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa).

Okoya sells 6,000 to 9,000 dolls a month, Reuters reports—10 to 15 percent of Nigeria’s small but growing toy market, by Okoya’s estimation. The dolls have quite a few fans. Okoya shares one’s testimony: “Usually the black dolls are so dark, I don’t buy them because they look nothing like me. I think that if they had maybe a better variety of black dolls with different colors like yours, that would be a lot better. No two black people are the same color: Some have darker and some have lighter pigments. Like many other African Americans, I have never found a doll that really fits me ’till now.”

Continue reading “Taofick Okoya’s “Queens of Africa” Dolls are Taking on Barbie”

Harlem Mom Calls On Toymaker to Create Black Barbie Party Supplies

karen braithwaiteWhen Karen Braithwaite (pictured) could not find party supplies for her daughter’s fifth birthday gathering with images of Black Barbies, she took her gripe to Change.org and YouTube in order to twist the corporate arm of the famed doll’s manufacturer, reports CBS New York.

The Harlem-based, 40-year-old human resources manager could not fathom why the toy company makes Black Barbie dolls but failed to create a culturally diverse line of party goods that would follow suit. She refused to purchase supplies with images of blond-haired, blue-eyed Barbies for her daughter, Georgia (pictured), despite the child’s insistence.

Braithwaite is at the helm of the group of 14 Harlem moms who have taken up their concerns with Mattel. The Change.org online petition that Braithwaite started last month has thus far garnered nearly 5,000 signatures. The request has reportedly not fallen on deaf ears and the toy maker, which manufactured its first African-American doll, Christie, in 1968, is reportedly considering the move to create the cultural party supplies.

article via newsone.com

On Mattel’s social media page, the company tweeted two replies to people who brought the issue to their attention: “We work closely with our partners to develop and distribute Barbie products such as party supplies,” and “We will be sharing your valuable feedback with them to start conversations and evaluate the business.”

Black Is Beautiful: Why Black Dolls Matter

Collectors Weekly Show & Tell poster stepback_antiques has this topsy-turvy doll from the 1870s in his collection.

Topsy-Turvy Doll from the 1870s.

In February 21st’s issue of Collector’s Weekly,  Associate Editor Lisa Hix wrote a thoughtful, in-depth article entitled “Black Is Beautiful: Why Black Dolls Matter.”  Hix’ piece covers the comprehensive history of black dolls, from early 19th century Topsy Turvy dolls (pictured above) to Limited Edition Black Barbies (pictured below).  GBN encourages you to click here to check it out.

This Barbie Collector edition doll, called "In the Limelight" the first featuring clothing by black designer Byron Lars, got Debra Britt's sister Kareema Thomas out of her hospital bed to hunt for dolls in 1997.

Barbie Collector edition doll, called “In the Limelight” was the first featuring clothing by black designer Byron Lars.

Related Stories: 

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
%d bloggers like this: