Celebrating #BrownBoyhood Through Toys: A Naturalista Introduces Melanites!

Celebrating #BrownBoyhood is an exciting new venture. Perhaps you haven't heard about it so sit back, read and enjoy this fantastic information about, Jennifer Pierre, a young Black woman entrepreneur who has created a novel project worthy of serious consideration, entitled Melanites. She is a graduate student in the entrepreneurial program at Babson College. She was one of my former students, so I am bursting with pride, but not surprised to see her brilliant, well-thought out and interesting creation as it was obvious in the classroom that her brain energy would never be wasted. On the heels of Barbie's debut of a new line, and American Girl's release of their latest African American addition, it seems that diversity on the shelves is once again a hot discussion topic. It is no wonder that the desire for more diverse options is on the rise given America's continuously changing consumer demographic. Per Jennifer, "according to the United States Census, there are more multicultural children being born under the age of five today than ever before." Hence rather than "minority," emerging majority is becoming the reality for children of color. This reality peaked Jennifer's interest towards a new creation.

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Additionally, as a smart business-minded person, through her research, Jennifer learned that in 2015, the Toy Industry Association estimated a $24 Billion market in the US alone of which 8% of those sales were accounted for by the doll category. Of that slice, that the percentage of diverse dolls cannot be calculated because there is not enough data. Her light bulb went on as she realized this fact: that translates into a substantial untapped market that does not coincide with what is currently being offered! The Toy Industry is simply not making products that appeal to the millions of multicultural families who purchase toys every year.

Consequently, Jennifer went on to create Melanites, a toy company introducing a new line of boy dolls of color. After visiting countless toy stores that did not reflect her or the people in her community, she decided to do something about it. Jennifer is a founder of the company, which hopes to stand up for children's right to options. She decided to focus her mission on celebrating brown boyhood. This means tackling racial and gender bias simultaneously. Pierre points out "that there exists a "blue aisle" that stereotypes young boys into the pigeon-hole of hyper-masculinity. The shelves marketed to young boys are "littered with toy guns, fighting stances, and aggressive role play."

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She indicates that "children's play is serious business because it is a focal point of where ideas and messages around their sense of self-confidence and imagery emerge." Having diversity in their toy selection is a very human need for access to different backgrounds.

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Melanites are changing the standard by introducing a line of multicultural boy dolls that have different aspirations and personalities like being the next "Thinker, Doer, Maker, & Performer." She hopes to expand the breadth of representation and aspire young boys of color to dream big.

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Jennifer Pierre is currently running a Crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter in hopes of making her startup a reality and bringing Melanites into the hands of all young children of color. It seems that this is a project is, which can really make a difference!