If you’ve ever tried to find a black doll at your local toy store, you may have noticed they usually come with tamed, straightened hairstyles. But one California mom, fed-up with that status quo, started a business making dolls with a fabulously diverse spectrum of natural hairdos — and her products are proving to be pretty popular.
Karen Byrd, founder of Natural Girls United, customizes dolls to give them natural hairstyles not typically seen on those sold in stores. As a child, Byrd remembers wondering why she didn’t resemble her straight-haired, white dolls.
“I had dolls that were gorgeous, but they didn’t look like me. When I looked in the mirror, I would be confused — like, am I beautiful?” Byrd told The Huffington Post.
While toy shopping for two of her daughters, now 14 and 12, Byrd was stunned to discover the same lack of diversity in contemporary toy stores. It was time to do something about it; she started her own business in 2011.
Byrd, whose company was recently featured on StyleBlazer, takes straight-haired dolls of different skin shades and customizes them with ornate handmade hairstyles. Each style takes up to three days to craft, though she won’t reveal anything more about the process behind the painstakingly detailed ‘dos.
Due to high customer demand, Byrd’s current stock of dolls is almost sold out, and she’s working hard to satisfy a 51-person-long waiting list. She has plans to hire more employees to provide for a customer base that has expanded to the United Kingdom, Africa, and Australia.
“People are excited that the dolls look like themor their children or the people in their community,” she told HuffPost. “It makes them feel good about themselves.”
Her three most popular dolls at the moment are: