No Longer Just a Barbie World

Houston company launches Prettie Girls collection of dolls of color (and Obama collectables, too)

Houston company launches Prettie Girls collection of dolls of color (and Obama collectables, too)

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The Prettie Girls include an African, African American, Indian and Dominican Republic doll. Courtesy of Prettie Girls
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Sophia makes her debut as a recent high school grad on the campaign trail for Obama 2012. The collectible dolls range from $49.95 to $149.95. Courtesy of Obama 2011 Dolls
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Mattel veteran designer Stacey McBride-Irby brought her expertise to the One World Dolls.
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Bettie DeBruhl heads up the marketing for One World and is planning a major advertising push in 2012.
News_dolls_The Prettie Girls!
News_Dolls_Obama 2012 Dolls_by Stacy McBride-Irby
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News_Bettie DeBruhl_head shot_column mug

Barbie’s circle of friends is getting more colorful and multi-cultural, thanks to a Houston company that is launching a collection of dolls that truly represent the girls who play with them. The line of Prettie Girl dolls includes African, African American, Indian and Dominican Republic girls and their creators hope they will be the antidote to the one-look-fits all world of toys.

The One World Doll Project has an impressive pedigree behind it. Stacey McBride-Irby was a project designer for Mattel for 15 years and designed the ground-breaking So In Style line of African-American Barbie dolls released in 2009. Houston executive Trent T. Daniel is the company's CEO and public relations veteran Bettie DeBruhl is chief marketing officer. The trio met during a United Negro College Fund speaking tour and began to conceptualize what would become the Prettie Girl doll.

“A doll is a girl’s first best friend and through dolls we learn a lot about who we are,” DeBruhl said. “We get a lot of comments from women who are 60 and older saying they wished they’d had these dolls when they were growing up. They ask, ‘Would my life have been different? Would I have made different choices?’”

It’s heady stuff to contemplate for sure. After all, isn’t it just a toy?

DeBruhl says we shouldn’t underestimate the effect toys and other sources like television can have on the development of a girl’s self-esteem and self-image. Prettie Girl dolls feature various skin shades, facial features and body structures that reflect black girls.

Prototypes show hair of various lengths for styling and, unlike Bratz dolls that tend to be decked out for the club rather than the playground, the Prettie Dolls, which are 11.5-in. tall, are dressed in colorful leggings, bolero jackets and booties. The dolls also have positive attitudes and believe in getting good grades, making good choices and planning for the future-and not just their future wardrobe choices.

The Prettie Girl dolls will be available early next year.

Collectors are abuzz about another line of  limited edition collector dolls that pay homage to Barack Obama’s presidency and the 2012 campaign. One World created Sophia, a recent graduate-with-honors from the Dream Academy for Excellence, the fictional high school that all Prettie Girls attend. When campaigning for Obama, she wears a “Sophia Loves Her President” t-shirt, cuffed Capri jeans and heels. For the inauguration ball, the Sophia wears an electric royal blue gown trimmed in sparkling silver, accented by encrusted jewels and garnet stones.

The limited edition dolls are $49.95. DeBruhl says they will be available for Christmas 2011. McBride-Irby is also hand-signing 2,012 Signature Edition Collector’s Dolls available, each with a unique number, certificate of authenticity, retailing for $149.95.

“We are getting so much feedback from the collectable community and are selling dolls even now without a lot of promotion,” DeBruhl says. “Dolls are emotional thing in black culture and we are excited about dolls that are strong, smart, intelligent and caring. It’s a cultural thing more than a consumer product.