Toy company Healthy Roots Dolls established itself as a brand creating representation for all children with their line of products. Now it’s raised a $1 million seed round to expand on its offerings and continue to spread the beauty of diversity.
The seed funding round was led by Backstage Capital, and accompanied by other investment groups such as Lightship Capital, Broadway Angels, Alpha Bridge, The Community Fund, Sequoia Scout as well as a group of individuals, including Sahil Lavingia.
To date, Healthy Roots Dolls has raised a total of $1.5 million, which includes funds from grants, pitch competitions, accelerator programs and crowdfunding, according to founder Yelitsa Jean-Charles.
During an interview with Crunchbase News, Brittany Davis — a principal at Backstage Capital — shared that she initially met Jean-Charles during her firm’s Backstage Accelerator program and was one of Healthy Roots Dolls’ first investors.
“We’ve seen her since Day One be heads down and focused on the product,” Davis said. “Now we are seeing that journey, and it has been cool to be a part of it.”
In terms of other companies’ attempts to address the issue of representation, Davis revealed that they do not pull it off as authentically as Jean-Charles and her startup.
“Yelitsa is phenomenal and builds representation in a product. The future of this country will be a minority majority, so she is building for the future customer. She is going to be at a scalable size, meeting them where they are — more diverse.”
According to Crunchbase News, Jean-Charles created her Detroit-based company back in 2015. Four years later, she then launched the company’s first Black doll, Zoe, to combine an entertaining play experience with an educational lesson on curly hair care.
“As a company, our goal is to be representation for all children,” Jean-Charles told Crunchbase News. “Before Zoe, I could not find a doll that had the same hair texture and color of skin that I did. We are now building products for every child. They can see themselves, or their friends, in Zoe, and it also represents diverse play in early stages of development.”
Since the release of the Zoe doll, Jean-Charles reveals that her company’s growth “has been pretty crazy.”
In addition to its successful growth, Healthy Roots Dolls previously partnered with consumer goods company Procter & Gamble for their 2019 My Black is Beautiful campaign to share and celebrate positive images of Black women.
“The partnership was intentionally mission alignment, and not about getting into stores,” Jean-Charles shared with Crunchbase News. “We also launched a hair care line with it.”
After going viral last summer amid the Black Lives Matter protests, Jean-Charles shared that the brand’s recognition has grown tremendously, thus the Zoe doll has not been able to stay in stock.
Moving forward, Jean-Charles plans to use the funding to help meet her startup’s demand, expand the brand’s product offerings outside of producing dolls, and focus on building up its customer base.
Her overarching goal — in what she describes as “total doll domination” for these yet-to-be-made products — is to create all types of products representing our multicultural world.
“I’m looking forward to creating more value for our customers,” she said, “and listening to them to see what they like so we can design for the future.”
For more information about Healthy Roots Dolls, visit their website.