Learn About Our Project:
It's time to bring TRUE diversity to the toy aisle
My name is Yelitsa and I am a children's illustrator from the Rhode Island School of Design. Growing up, I suffered from many insecurities about my skin color and hair texture. I was often told that in order to be beautiful you had to have long, flowing hair or fair skin. Not seeing many girls like me in the media didn't help these issues. Today, only 8% of children's books have main characters of color, but about 50% of children in the USA are of color.
These numbers don't add up.
I created Healthy Roots to fill that void. Internalized racism and colorism stem from mainstream beauty standards that exclude women of color. The pressure that girls feel to appeal to mainstream beauty standards impacts their self esteem, leading them to use dangerous chemicals like perms and bleaching creams to become "beautiful." Healthy Roots teaches girls of color self-love through education, diversity, and positive representation. If the toys we play with influence how we perceive ourselves, imagine the kind of impact we can have with a toy that aims to inspire and empower.
Meet the Healthy Roots girls
Healthy Roots is a doll + book series starring best friends Zoe, Dara, Gaiana and Marinda, girls from all different cultures and walks of life. These girls are much more than fashionistas. They are truly passionate about learning and creating good for others. Girls get to follow our characters' journeys as they deal with insecurities while reading our storybooks.
As they read along, they learn about life and the many different cultures of the African Diaspora.
Target age range: 3-12
The initial set includes:
Manual: "Big Book of Hair": This is the intro to natural hair care starring the Healthy Roots Girls. Doll: 1 character doll. Product: 2 Kreyol Essence Natural Hair care products that girls can use to care for their own hair.
Healthy Roots Humble Beginnings
Healthy Roots has come a long way. What started as an art project has grown into a social venture. I've built a strong team of women of color from different universities who are equally as passionate and dedicated to this cause.
Participating in the Brown Social Innovation Fellowship, RISD E'Ship Program, Brown Breakthrough Innovation Lab, and now the MassChallenge Accelerator Program has given the Healthy Roots team all the necessary skills to launch this product.
These programs have given us access to workshops, mentors, and toy designers that have helped develop this product. We have done extensive research on the impact of dolls, race, and representation with several mothers and daughters to develop the best product. The positive feedback was so strong that we had to pursue this project.
We have already established a relationship with a manufacturer and have developed doll models that have been 3D printed and tested. The dolls will be made from plastic and different synthetic hair fibers. We will be avoiding dangerous plastic to ensure the safety of the children that play with our dolls.
Our dolls will go through all industry-standard child safety testing before it gets to you.
My focus as an artist has always been to create social change. We are ready to go into production and all we need are your orders. To get these dolls in the arms of little girls, we need to reach our minimum order of 2,500 dolls.
You will be able to see the process of producing Healthy Roots from start to finish after backing me on this Kickstarter. See the journey on www.healthyrootsdolls.com
Who we are doing this for
For the girls! We are doing this for all the young girls who participated in our model call. We are doing it for girls like Sarah, Lily, and Saige.
We go far beyond being just another black doll. Everyone deserves to be represented and no one should feel less than because of the color of their skin or the kink of their curl.
This Kickstarter project is only the beginning! We will create a series of Healthy Roots dolls and storybooks. Healthy Roots is not just a doll. It is a social movement. Help us make it happen.
***Photo credits: Nitashia Johnson, Allison Bamaca, Yelitsa Jean-Charles