The toy industry might be cute but don’t confuse that for it being small. Statista reports that in 2019, the average amount spent on toys per child in a North American household was $300. It seems parents are ready to reach deep into their pockets to put a smile on a kid’s face. Never is that more true than around the holidays. But here’s a not-so-fun fact: research out of Stanford shows that Black-owned companies were disproportionately hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and are disappearing at an alarming rate. What this all points to is this: Black-owned toy companies might be the best place to put your holiday spending to good use.
If you want to make your children light up with joy when they unwrap their presents this year, while you light up knowing you supported Black enterprise, get to know some of the creative and fun Black toy companies out there. To get you started, we rounded up a list of Black-owned toy brands to shop this holiday season.
Started by Chantel Calloway in 2015, Rhyme Antics was the first black-owned board game to be sold at Target and other major retailers. Charlamagne tha God is one of the investors in this game that teaches literacy through hip hop and uses a combination of cards and the Rhyme Antics app. Players form teams, and the game starts by one team choosing a rhyme level and choosing a corresponding 60-second instrumental on the Rhyme App. Then, it’s a game of rhyming and trying to guess what words might be on a card while freestyling a verse. It’s playful, competitive and always accompanied by good music.
Fresh Dolls was created by former college professor Dr. Lisa Williams. Williams was inspired to create the dolls after learning about a survey revealing racial attitudes Black girls had about white dolls. The survey showed that young Black girls associated light skinned dolls with being “nice” and dark skinned dolls with being “mean.” Anxious to change this perception, Dr. Williams got to work on Fresh Dolls, a line of dolls designed to give Black children positive representation of themselves in toys. Fresh Dolls has since grown and now has five collections, each representing Black girls and women at different ages, from different walks of life and in different professions.
Ada Twist STEM Toys
Ada Twist was first a popular children’s book written by Andrea Beaty and created to inspire children – especially girls – to take an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The book was so well received that Netflix eventually produced a show based on the series, depicting the bold Black girl from the beloved book. The book and the eventual series have aimed to give young Black girls representation in the STEM space, and the new line of toys based on the series takes the next step of piquing their interest in the subjects. There’s a broad collection of items to choose from, including the Brain Storm Book, designed to help little scientists write down hypothesis and try the scientific activities within its pages, the Go & Glow Notebook that’s filled with scientific prompts and even the interactive Ada Twist doll complete with lab accessories.
Brown Toy Box Educational Toys
The Brown Toy Box company was started by Terri-Nichelle Bradley, who believes, as she says in her mission statement, that Black children, “Should see themselves positively represented in every space they experience regularly.” And that begins as early as the years they play with toys. So she developed her educational line of toys. No matter where your young scholar’s interests might lie, you should find something for them on her site. There is a marine biology memory game, an astronomy kit, a chemistry lab puzzle, a museum of arts game and so much more. The site makes it easy to filter through categories such as robotics, coding, chemistry and beyond. They also feature Black History toys.
Kids Coloring Co.
Felicia Lanier and Taundra Dunbar are both nurses and mothers who were inspired to start their line of children’s gardening kits and recipe coloring books, Kids Coloring Co., by their own struggle to keep their young children entertained. Their aim with their toys is to create more family time as well as offer hands-on activities that provide a break from screen time. Their gardening kits offer simple instructions that are easy for kids to follow and let children experience the joy of growing their own small gardens. Kits range from herb gardens to vegetable gardens to flower gardens. The coloring books go beyond your regular coloring books – they’re actually recipe coloring books that give kids a chance to have fun in the kitchen with their family. Through the book pages, they’ll read a fun story attached to the recipe, color in the book and then make the food.
Yini Bini Baby
Yini Bini Baby is a hand-crafted baby brand based out of Washington D.C. and founded by Soyini George. George got her inspiration from going to Guyana, South America to visit her great aunt, who was a seamstress of vibrant and beautiful garments, and her uncle who always kept a colorful garden of fruits, vegetables and flowers. She works to bring that life and those colors to her handmade clothing, toys, books and more. In the toy department, she offers organic soy and beeswax crayons for the young artist in your home, as well as a bilingual wooden block set and several adorable sets of 100 percent cotton plush animal toys.
If you want to inspire the little entrepreneur in your home, purchase them a gift from this toy brand, founded by the youngest CEO of a Black-owned business, six-year-old Lily Adeleye. A lover of all things girly and – as the name says – frilly, Adeleye started the company with a focus on accessories like hair bows but has expanded into other items. One notable item that the little rascal in your home might delight at is the Lily Frilly slime. Made with a buttery consistency (please note: not edible), it’s perfect for building, molding, sculpting and whatever else a young artist or any child who loves to get their hands dirty might come up with. There are a few variations of the slime including cupcake, popsicles & sprinkles and galaxy.
Healthy Roots Dolls
Healthy Roots Dolls were created by Yelitsa Jean-Charles, who remembers receiving a Black doll as a little girl and bursting into tears because it wasn’t the “pretty one.” She never wanted any other Black girls to feel that way about dolls that represent them, and so Healthy Roots Dolls was created. The dolls celebrate girls with curly hair, and each doll has different facial features, skin tone and hair texture. The dolls have washable and stylable hair so little girls can have fun trying new looks on a doll who has hair like their own. Healthy Roots also sells accessories like the Curl Power Kit with curl rods, beads, butterfly clips, a spray bottle and a brush, as well as the Mommy and Me satin bonnet bundle that has a bonnet for a child, a doll and mom.