Having sources of representation at an early age is crucial. In 2020, Brooke Hart Jones recognized that there was a need for children to learn about Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and to be able to see into their potential futures at the institutions.
“I was looking for an HBCU doll to give someone during the pandemic and couldn’t find it,” Jones told the outlet. “And I was shocked, and was like surely these exist?”
After Hart’s discovery that they, in fact, didn’t exist, she got right down to business and handmade her own dolls for customers after being furloughed from her previous job as a toy buyer — thus birthing her company, HBCyoU Dolls. In addition, she had assistance from her husband with the package and shipping.
“It is the opportunity to plant the seed of higher learning, teach about HBCUs,” Jones said. “They see themselves for what they can be, what they can achieve, what they can become.”
Taking action on her own soon got the attention of toy manufacturer Purpose Toys, which led to the two teaming up. Under the partnership, HBCyoU Dolls began selling in Walmart, Target, Sam’s Club, Macy’s, CVS, and Amazon — making Jones’ company the first and only HBCU doll line sold in major retail stores globally — per the outlet.
The mission is to not only teach history but also to keep the legacy of HBCUs alive. HBCyoU Dolls’ slogan is “Sharing the magic of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.”
HBCyoU Dolls features 11 dolls ranging in skin tones and hair textures. In addition, the dolls’ interests include STEM fields, business, as well as leadership roles. For example, one of the dolls, Autumn, is a majorette, and another, Nicole, is homecoming queen.
To learn more about HBCyoU Dolls, click here.