A lot has changed in the twenty years since I was given my very favorite Barbie doll, Nichelle, who was part of Mattel's "Shani" collection.
I later received Shani, while my sister was given Asha. Then came the Jamals- plural since we both got one.
The trio of Black beauties were great. They had their own names, styles and outfits. They were all beautiful with their different skin tones, instead of just being brown carbon copies of Barbie.
Sure, there had been other African American friends of Barbie, but these girls were in their own world.
From left to right, Shani, Nichelle & Asha
Fast forward to the present, and Natural Girls United makes Shani's world seem extremely small.
I found out about the company when my friend Lori (who was featured on FAR here) posted pics of her specially created doll this past week. I was amazed by the doll's honey hued locks and warm amber skin tone. Lori shared with me the link to the site and added that she had designed her mini-me back in February and she was brought to life by the creative (and friendly) Karen Byrd.
Lori and Lori!
As a Barbie fan who still has my Nichelle (!) and is a mother of my own little doll, I'm definitely bookmarking this site with plans to purchase my own natural girl some day soon!
Some more of Karen's work: