As a child, I loved playing with dolls. As a result, I had many: some were fashion dolls, others were baby dolls, and others were toddler dolls. My dolls were lovely. They had beautiful blonde hair and blue eyes. Unfortunately, I did not see my beauty reflected in these dolls. They didn't have my gorgeous, black, curly hair; inquisitive dark-brown eyes; or lovely brown skin.
As a doll expert and mother, I am dedicated to increasing the diversity, equity, inclusion, and empathy in the doll world. To meet my goals, I promote the work of doll professionals--especially women and people of color. I have included information about some of my collaborations in this section.
Supporting Small Black Doll Creators
Doll Store: My professional doll journey began about a decade ago when I opened the doll store, Curiositeej™ Dolls & Collectibles. My goals were two-fold. The short-term goal was to raise money to cover my child's medical expenses. The long-term goal was to create an entrepreneurial opportunity for my child to successfully financially support themself. Because my child loved dolls and used them as ways to manage their social, mental, and physical health, a doll store was the logical choice.
Supporting Small Black Doll Creators: As a parent and doll store owner, I knew there were many more white dolls on the market than Black dolls; so, as I looked for dolls, I focused on small, Black doll creators.
Our store was one of the first in the US to carry the 12-inch fashion dolls, Queens of Africa (QoA) created by the Nigerian entrepreneur, Taofick Okoya. My store was also the only US store to carry the 18-inch, A-Girls made by the Botswana professor and doll creator, Bakani July. In addition, I have networked with multiple creators of Black dolls from around the world.
Helping Connect Black Dolls & Doll Lovers
Operation Sankofa: As I looked for small Black doll creators, I stumbled across a number of Black doll advocates, enthusiasts, and organizations. including Ama Guye, owner of the organization, Operation Sankofa. Ama's goal is to connect Black dolls and Black children. Ama gives Black dolls to children in Britain, Ghana, and Senegal.
Through my contacts, I helped Ama acquire and give more than 100 Black dolls to children. Ama and I purchased dolls and doll collectors donated dolls
In The Doll World: In 2021, I created the Annual World of Black Doll Celebration to introduce creators of Black dolls from around the world to a global audience. $2K worth of dolls were given away in the celebration, and the doll creators increase their sales. One ITDW follower told me she purchased 6 dolls from creators who participated in the Celebration.
Gifted a Doll and Outfits to 5K+ In The Doll World Followers: By the end of 2021, our followers were on every continent and lived in at least one-third of the world's countries. I worked out an agreement with doll creator, Darla Davenport-Powell, to allow ITDW to share a beautiful paper doll--including her outfits and accessories. It was truly a dream come true.
Increasing DEI, In The Doll World
In The Doll World: History-making doll creator, Georgette Taylor, approached me with an idea to create a doll podcast that would introduce doll lovers and doll professionals. As I worked with Georgette to create the podcast, I made a point of using ITDW's platform for my DEI work.
In less than 2-years, we interviewed people from around the world and our podcasts were downloaded in more than one-third of the world's countries. I created festivals that celebrated dolls of color and LGBTQ+ populations. We interviewed people who created an assortment of dolls--including one-of-a-kind (OOAK) dolls for children with special needs. ITDW truly celebrated diversity!
In addition, I collaborated with doll professionals on projects outside of the podcast. For instance, I wrote the foreword for and edited Doll Photography, a book written by Polish doll photographer, Izabella Kwella. I also encouraged doll creators to expand their skills, share their knowledge, and collaborate with other doll professionals.
When I initially opened the store, I focused on finding and selling Black dolls from small Black doll creators. After a while, I became friends with Nav Sikand, the British, East Indian creator of the La Poupee Anok doll line. Nav told me it was difficult to find red-haired dolls in Britain. I was shocked! I assumed red-haired dolls would be plentiful in Britain. Because Britain and Ireland are both part of the United Kingdom (UK), I assumed there would be shelves of red-haired dolls Britain. The red-haired dolls would accurately reflect the gorgeous locks that are commonly associated with the Irish people.