Michigan mom builds doll business, self-esteem for girls

How would your child define beauty? Is it based on age or gender? Or how about color?

Detroit mom Sheri Crawley said she was shocked to find out what her daughters' definition of beauty was and set out on a mission to change it. Now, that mission has turned into a global-wide business.

Pretty Brown Girl started as a way to boost the self-esteem of Crawley's two daughters, Laila and Aliya.


"Initially, it was a simple birthday party that I planned at a popular doll store with my daughters and her friends," said Crawley. "Not one of the beautiful brown girls that were at the party picked a black doll."

Crawley soon realized there was a deeper issue.

"I was disheartened. I was brokenhearted," she said. "It really let me know that, despite everything that we were working hard to instill in them, the glamorization rather of European concepts of beauty is so overwhelming."

With the help of her husband, Crawley came up with a doll that was created by combining the images of her daughters' faces. Then, Pretty Brown Girl expanded to include T-shirts, book bags, umbrella bags and more.

"We have over 120 clubs," Crawley said. "We've developed a model for self-esteem clubs. Community based clubs that can be started by parents, organizations. We even have a school initiative where we have 15 to 20 week curriculum for after school programs for schools and that's K-12."

Crawley and her husband believe in Pretty Brown Girl so much they have made it their full-time job and taken their program to schools all over the world.

Every year, they host Pretty Brown Girl Day, and most recently hosted an international conference in the Bahamas. But it's when they got a call from Oprah that they realized just how far their movement was spreading.


"They were doing a highlight with Oprah Winfrey and Iyanla Vanzant on colorism on life class. She invited me to be a part of the discussion," said Crawley. "She was familiar with the brand as well, so that was really exciting and so that was one of those moments you will never forget."

Now, it's full steam ahead for Crawley and her team as they continue to spread their message and put Pretty Brown Girl into classrooms.


"We want to offer the school program to every school in America to be able to address this often overlooked topic of skin tone and self-esteem so we can move past it," said Crawley.

As for her daughters, they appear to have gotten the message.

"You're one-of-a-kind of a person," they said. "Just be yourself and your wonderful shade! You will know that you're beautiful inside and out."

You can find out more about the Pretty Brown Girl dolls and how to get your child involved by going to PrettyBrownGirl.com