A Hampton University graduate is inspiring the next generation of HBCU pride through her new line of HBCyoU Dolls, which can now be found lining shelves at select Target stores and online.
HBCyoU founder Brooke Hart Jones partnered with prominent Black-owned toy company Purpose Toys to release the collection of three 18-inch dolls with natural hairstyles and interchangeable outfits representing different historically Black schools.
Characters include student body president Hope and Nicole, a homecoming queen.
The toys aim to give children ages 3 and up a “sense of ethnic familiarity and be an aspirational role model – who dreams big, sets goals, works hard, and manifests a rewarding future for herself,” per the product descriptions.
Hope sports a varsity jacket, jeans and an afro, while Nicole is clad in a flowing gown and curls tied up in a tiara. The third HBCyoU character, cheer captain Alyssa, also proudly rocks her curls while wearing a skirt and holding up pom-poms.
Each doll comes complete with a biography listing their major and extracurricular passions.
Emblazoned on the doll’s outfits are the logos of esteemed HBCUs including Morehouse University, Clark Atlanta University, Tuskegee University and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, per the outlet.
HBCyoU Dolls are the latest toy release from Purpose Toys, founded by DeeDee Wright-Ward to support emerging Black toy entrepreneurs with the infrastructure to create toys that represent and align with the modern Black experience.
On CROWN Day in 2022, which commemorated the signing of the CROWN Act into legislation on July 3, 2019, Purpose Toys released the first fashion doll line with 4-C textured hair: the “Pixie Puff Collection” from Naturalistas.
“The African American community is a nuanced, multi-dimensional group with varying sensibilities and experiences,” Wright-Ward said in a statement. “Through Naturalistas and HBCyoU Dolls, Purpose Toys ushers in the perfect opportunity to honor the uniqueness and multifaceted nature of not only our community, but African American culture.”
“While ‘diversity,’ ‘representation’ and ‘inclusion’ are slowly becoming the corporate norm, more work needs to be done to bring cultural nuances, authentic brand stories, and Black ownership to the toy aisle,” she added. “We hope to affect positive change not only in toy development, but in business overall.”
HBCyoU Dolls are available online or in-store at Target now for prices ranging from $34.99 to $39.99.
Story Credit: thegrio Staff
Photo Credit: hbcyoudolls Instagram