Dr. Lisa Williams used her passion for race and gender identity representation and turned it into a six-figure doll business.
The Fresh Dolls line was created to provide children of all ethnicities and gender identities with a form of visual and uplifting representation of themselves.
According to ESSENCE, the doll line is on a mission to use toys to help increase self-confidence among children of color all over the globe.
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After watching a study on CNN about the racial attitudes that young Black girls had toward white dolls, Dr. Williams was appalled by the findings that, although decades had passed, Black children still associated lighter skin tones with “good” and dark skin tones with “bad.”
This shocking revelation drove her to launch The Fresh Doll Collection which includes multiple doll lines created to spark conversations in the home about race and provide children of all ethnicities and gender identities with positive visual representations of themselves.
In just a few years, Fresh Dolls has surpassed six figures and is currently distributed globally in retailers that include Walmart.
Oprah also included the brand in her favorite things of 2020.
While the success of Fresh Dolls continues to be on the rise, Dr. Williams says it hasn’t always been easy.
“I’ve had some terrible experiences while scaling my business,” shared Dr. Williams in an interview with ESSENCE “But I always kept my ‘why’ top of mind and that led me to success.”
Her ‘why’ was instilled in her through her love to be in service to the community.
As a former marketing and supply chain professor, Dr. Williams attests to her career for helping her create Fresh Dolls for children of color who haven’t always been taught not to love the skin they’re in — even by the people meant to teach them.
She reflected on a time that she experienced something similar within her own family.
“My family’s beautiful skin tones ran the gamut from the deepest of deep to fairly complected with blond hair, so I never really felt inferior to anyone most of my childhood, until that changed with one off-hand comment,” she shared.
“When talking about my fairer skinned sister and I, they referred to me as “dark one” when trying to make a distinction between us,” Dr. Williams recalled. “I noticed even as a child that their tone was different when they referred to my complexion.”
Today, Fresh Dolls is here to change the narrative offering dolls that reflect all skin tones and genders.
The Fresh Dolls will also continue to expand and spotlight LGBTQ+ products and an expanded fashion line for dolls which will include gender-neutral outfits.
For more on The Fresh Dolls click here.