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Detroit entrepreneur creates diverse line of dolls

Entrepreneur helps girls of color have doll that looks like them

DETROIT – For girls and boys of color, it can be hard to find toys that represent them. Minorities have not often been princesses in movies or heroes in children’s shows.

For young children, it can be confusing to understand why there aren’t any dolls that look like them. Now, a Detroit-based entrepreneur is working to help girls of color feel like they have a doll that looks like them.

“Zoe is a physical manifestation of everything I never had as a little girl,” said Yelitsa Jean-Charles, CEO of Healthy Roots Dolls. “I started Healthy Roots Dolls while I was in undergrad at the Rhode Island School of Design. It was born out of my own experiences growing up and the fact that I never had a doll that looked like me.

She said Zoe is more than just girl power.

“She’s all about curl power, with hair you can wash and style, just like your own hair,” Jean-Charles said. “So girls can learn to love their curls, and she’s the first of many products we hope to make.”

So far, Zoe has been a hit.

“At a young age, looking at T.V. and not seeing girls with beautiful box braids and cornrows and beautiful big curls -- I didn’t think that my hair was good hair,” Jean-Charles said. “You hear those conversations with people, like, ‘Your hair is ugly,' or, ‘Why does your hair look like that?‘”

For Jean-Charles, images of girls enjoying Zoe are heartwarming. She said she loves the feeling of giving.

“The first thing a lot of kids say is, ‘She looks just like me,‘” Jean-Charles said. “Even though it’s not a carbon copy, but because it’s a variation of a product that they’ve never gotten to see before. It’s supposed to resemble you in some way and you feel seen."

With the national spotlight focused on race and race relations, Healthy Roots Dolls seem to be a timely symbol of equality. Times being what they are, along with a viral tweet, has business booming.

“In the midst of all that turmoil, seeing a positive product that is addressing the issue from a different side really gives people hope in work that people can be doing at home, in a small way,” Jean-Charles said.

Jean-Charles said Healthy Roots Dolls are for everyone. Click here to visit the company’s website.


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