In light of the Barbie phenomenon, dolls will likely be in high demand this holiday season. One of the factors that changed Barbie’s trajectory for Mattel (like I mentioned last week) was their embrace of diversity, creating Barbies of different ethnicities.
But, according to this post on Axios, new entrepreneur Elenor Mak says that while “U.S. doll lines have released some Asian American models, many still use white dolls’ molds and rely on stereotypes like kung fu or exoticized features.”
But Mak is out to change all that. She launched Jilly Bing, a new Asian American doll August 1. Axios reports that last year Mak was looking for dolls for her then-two-year-old daughter Jillian. But she told Axios that the dolls she found were “cartoonish or clichéd.”
Mak formed a team to research how to create a doll that reflected Asian childrens’ features. And she wanted the “doll to have a backstory that meaningfully reflects her heritage—not just as a white American Girl’s best friend.”
The doll, which retails for $68 and comes with a set of accessories and Axios says, already racked up sales across the country before yesterday’s launch date.
Mak told Axios she wanted to “showcase [Jilly Bing] as…someone who has the freedom to be who she is.”
From a broader perspective, according to this article, “dolls have a direct correlation with how young girls of color see themselves and their standards of beauty.”
Axios says Mak “plans to create more dolls of diverse Asian ethnicities, genders, and personalities.”
Creating a business born out of personal needs or wants is not a new idea. But Mak did what so many don’t have the courage to do. She identified the need, and she did something about it. This underscores something I have long espoused. Opportunity surrounds us—all we have to do is seize it.
Photo courtesy JillyBing.com