Thursday, May 3, 2012

Natural Hair Dolls- Now Everyone Can be Barbie Girls!

Lori and her personalized doll.

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:


Lori Boyd said...


Karen said...

Thank you so much for highlighting my dolls and business. It has been an absolute joy to be able to work on a something that brings joy to our children and community. The majority of the dolls on the site are hand customized. And a few of the dolls are dolls that I have found from other collectors that are no longer available in stores (like the last doll shown in this post with short cropped hair cut and pop star dress on). I hope to be able to continue to bring dolls to our little girls, women and men that help us to recognize that our beauty is beautiful. ~ Karen :-)

Alisha De Freitas said...

Hi Karen, thanks so much for stoppping by! I'm absolutely in love with your work and plan on ordering a doll sometime in the next couple of months. You're most definitely a talent and blessing! :-)

mscatamaran said...

i have had Shawnee and Asha since I can remember. I always loved them and as a grown woman I took a few mementos from my childhood into my new home. I took 10 Barbie dolls, they were in this list. I'm actually getting their hair to look more natural. I tried with pipe cleaners and boiling water but Shawnee's hair was so old and crunchy (deteriorated over time) it didn't look even as half as good as some one the dolls I've seen on the internet. But I eventually found a wonderful artist to help with that.

Alisha De Freitas said...

@mscatamaran, I'm not the only on! Yay! My hubby was shocked I'd keep a doll so long.. But I LOVE those dolls. I never heard of using pipe cleaners. So interesting. :-)

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