Meet Yelitsa Jean-Charles, the founder and CEO of Healthy Roots Dolls, a toy company that creates Black and brown dolls with facial features, skin tones, and realistic curly hair that can be styled in any way. Through the toys, Yelitsa aims to teach Black children about the beauty of their natural hair and how to embrace it.
Growing up, Yelitsa said she wasn’t really confident with her natural hair. She even ended up having damaged hair due to her excessive use of chemical treatments. When she finally came to love herself, she thought she wanted to help the new generation of young Black girls to learn to love their own beautiful features too. That’s what inspired her to create dolls that looked like them.
Yelitsa, who is a graduate of the Rhode Island School Of Design with a BFA in Illustration and a concentration in Race and Gender, designed a doll inspired by Rapunzel as a Black girl with beautiful kinky hair for a class project in college.
For nearly 5 years, she worked on developing the doll and raising capital through a Kickstarter campaign. Along with a grant she received, Yelitsa was finally able to officially launch her company in 2019.
Healthy Roots Dolls now currently has 4 dolls that have distinct facial features, skin tones, and natural hair that can be fully washed, detangled, and styled. Aside from the dolls, they also offer books that serve as illustrated guides to do natural hairstyles.
“My whole purpose in life is to do work for the next generation,” she told Women’s Health Magazine. “As long as I’m teaching kids to value themselves, put themselves first, and advocate for themselves… If I can do that by just making them feel powerful and love themselves with a toy, then I’m doing my job.”
Learn more about Healthy Roots Dolls via its official website at HealthyRootsDolls.com