College Student’s Doll Company Empowers Black Girls

College Student’s Doll Company Empowers Black Girls

When the news of Breonna Taylor‘s death hit TV screens, Datreese Thomas was trying to come up with her first business venture. What she came up with not only helped her but is empowering young Black girls.

Thomas, who was struggling in her freshman year at the University of Houston, wanted to empower Black girls and help them develop self-love and give them something to look up to. So she created The Melanie Dolls.

“I wanted to help Black girls feel beautiful, gain courage, and just develop self-love. I do that by providing a product that helps young Black girls individually see themselves better. I truly believe the company I created is a clear reflection of the journey that I had to go through with myself,” Datreese Thomas told AfroTech.

Thomas applied for various grants and seed money but couldn’t get any. As a result, the economics major created The Melanie Dolls from the ground up, saving money she earned from an internship to launch the business in 2021.

Thomas’ Taylor doll sold out almost immediately after a TikTok post featuring the doll went viral earlier this year. The Houston Cougar plans on using a portion of her profits from The Melanie Dolls to launch her nonprofit, The Melanin Movement, which will work to financially empower and assist creative talent in Black communities.

Currently, The Melanie Dolls is taking pre-orders for its flagship Breonna Taylor doll. Its second doll is inspired and designed after author and civil rights activist Angela Davis. Thomas said she was inspired by Davis and the Black Panthers’ style, who wore all Black and sported afros.

“I’m just glad people are becoming aware of the lack of Black representation in retail,” Thomas told ABC7NY, adding she’s created each doll from a truthful spot in herself that properly represents Black people.