Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduates Shawna Davis and Tiffany Mickel have put a twist on traditional playing cards by printing pictures of history-making black women on their faces. Say goodbye to your typical two through 10, jack, queen, king and ace. Instead, players can find the faces of Michelle Obama, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Madam C. J. Walker, Nina Simone and more.
“Cards are a staple in Black households, but we don’t have our own kings and queens on our decks,” Davis said of the duo’s inspiration. “We wanted to create a movement that empowers the African American community of the greatness, [through learning] our past culture and history, and helping players realize the endless possibilities and potential of just being born into the Black culture.”
Each woman on the Heiritage playing cards has a story that coincides with their card’s corresponding number. Bessie Coleman, for example, is displayed on the eighth card, which pays homage to the eight-meter biplane she learned to fly in.
The founders’ creative style was bred from their degrees in material science, which focuses on the creation of new materials or improving upon existing ones.
“While we preserve the four original French suits, including clubs, diamonds, hearts and spades, we reengineered 12 cards within those suits to have fitting Black American legends as a reflection of our interests and legacy,” the founders said. “With Heiritage, each card has a unique identity.”
The cards already released are considered “first edition,” but future decks will include more contemporary figures like Serena Williams, Beyoncé and Issa Rae. Both Davis and Mickel are self-proclaimed “die-hard Insecure fans,” and their excitement built when they saw star Yvonne Orji playing with their deck in an Instagram story.
“Having women like Yvonne engage with these cards with their tribe of friends, lovers and family members ties directly into our whole vision for the cards: To further tradition of faithfully honoring one’s inherited legacy and courageously realizing one’s infinite destiny,” Mickel said.
Heiritage cards are available for $23.99, and, according to Davis and Mickel, a men’s deck is in the works and will be launching this Spring!