Remember the doll with the Afrocentric name that was the darling of all little girls of color who finally got the chance to covet a miniature image of themselves and feel proud of their baby doll with the same skin color and kinks and coils?
I remember buying a Kenya doll for my daughter Kaelani and she loved her Kenya doll for everything that she was – a reflection of herself.
Now Kenya’s back and it’s more than just a doll on the market – it’s a movement to make kids feel PROUD of themselves and say it loud. Family Dollar is spearheading that movement and invited a group of influential Atlanta bloggers to ride VIP style in luxury vehicles and join them at a private concert at the Bass Mint and to learn more about the re-emergence of an old-time doll favorite. (Visit KenyasWorld.com)
The Rock Star Madness Band’s Shanica Knowles represents the lifesize Kenya doll and the band members represent Kenya’s crew! They are a good crop of young people who have starred in stage and screen and shows like Hannah Montana and That’s So Raven before forming this band and touring nationwide to spread Kenya’s positive SAY IT PROUD message.
After the concert we headed to a new Family Dollar Store on Cascade Road in Atlanta where we were treated to a buffet of delicious food, drinks and desserts and learned more about the message and the re-emergence of the Kenya doll from Family Dollar officials.
After meeting opposition by residents to open a Family Dollar in this SW Atlanta neighborhood, I applaud Family Dollar for having a Grand Opening event showcasing a prominent and beloved African American doll like Kenya.
And as a mom of FIVE who shops at Family Dollar often, (the shoes my kids had on at the event were bought from Family Dollar) I am thankful for a store that allows me to shop economically and get the things I need for my household without breaking my bank account. As a community we have to stop opposing every company that enters our neighborhoods. The bottom line is we HAVE to buy what we need for our families and I appreciate a company that gives us products that are affordable versus one that enters our communities and price gouges us. It means a lot that I can buy all my kids sneakers and it will cost me between $40 and $50 TOTAL versus going to a major retailer and spending $250 on shoes! Maybe those who opposed Family Dollar didn’t have as many kids as I have so maybe they just didn’t understand the everyday working mom’s point of view!
Bob Giles, Divisional VP of Family Dollar explained the ups and downs of the Kenya’s success. Kenya was successful in the early 90s and consistently sold out in stores across the US and became a cultural favorite among African Americans because of its ability to instill self-esteem in little girls who did not see an influx of dolls that was a reflection of themselves with brown skin and a coily hair type.
The dolls were created by Donald Levine and his son Neil Levine has now taken over the company and brought the dolls back. What happened to the dolls and why were they missing from the market for so long? To make a long story short, Giles explained, the dolls were basically sold to Tyco and then to Mattel and with Mattel having such a heavy hand in promoting Barbie, Kenya was put on the back burner. Then in 1996 production stopped for Kenya after a failed licensee change.
Now Neil Levin has brought Kenya back and is pushing and promoting her with a message of being proud, “growing up proud, just like me,” is the Kenya anthem. And the dolls have been relaunched and the company Kenya’s World LLC, is hoping that the next generation of little girls will get the opportunity to covet, love and appreciate Kenya as much as little girls did 20-something years ago.
But it was also important to the Family Dollar brass as well to support a product that supports such a positive and motivating message to the African American community.
The new Kenya dolls will have hair beads and yes she will still have her Magic Styling Lotion that girls so loved. And not only that but there are plush Kenya dolls for babies, miniature Kenya dolls and the grown-up Kenya dolls that make up the collection are Barbie-like versions of Kenya and her stylish crew: best friend Denise, boyfriend TJ and little sister Keyshia.
This Christmas I hope all my friends will go out and buy the new Kenya dolls. With these dolls back on the market we should really kick some Barbie butt! Kenya dolls will be my gift of choice for the little girls on my Christmas list this year. I definitely want to support this movement and hope everyone else will too. Let’s say it loud, amplify this message and show PRIDE and SUPPORT in these beautiful Kenya dolls!
Thank you to Katherine for reaching out to me and thank you to Bryn and the whole Family Dollar Team. I truly appreciated this VIP experience and learning about the re-emergence of Kenya. And thank you also to Bob Giles for supporting Atlanta Diaper Relief as well, which was totally unrelated to my whole Kenya experience! I think that was such a wonderful gesture and truly shows how much you all at Family Dollar are committed to making the lives of all families just a little bit better.
Disclosure: I was invited to a VIP event by Family Dollar to preview the new Kenya doll and as part of the event was gifted a Family Dollar gift card, provided a doll and provided transportation to and from the event. All opinions expressed are mine solely.
Check out the SAY IT LOUD, SAY IT PROUD Video by the Rock Star Madness Band. LOVE this song. Very catchy!