Fab Files: Prettie Girls Dolls Designer Stacey McBride Irby
Created by Trent Daniels, (One World Doll Project Founder) and Stacey McBride Irby, Prettie Girls! an acronym for P(ositve) R(espectful) E(nthusiastic) T(ruthful) T(alented) I(nspiring) E(xcellent), each come with a positive message that children can relate to and parents can be proud of.
Currently the collection includes: Lena, African-American, Valencia, Latina, Kimani, African, and Dahlia, South Asian, as well as a collector doll modeled after The Real Housewives of Atlanta star, Cynthia Bailey! Each doll comes with a designer fashion outfit complete with accessories – shoes, a purse, bracelet and earrings and a doll stand to showcase the dolls.
Her story is inspiring and a great one to share with our little girls! Read more about this mompreneur, what she hopes to do with her dolls, and see them below– perfect holiday gifts.
Stacey: I knew that I needed this extra push to go out on my own, and that’s where (One World Dolls owner) Trent came in, and at first I was excited. But on the other hand he was moving so quickly it made me nervous [laughs]. So then I was like, this can actually happen. My whole life of being with Mattel for 15 years was about to change. I basically grew up working there, got married, had kids, so this was the life that I knew. Creating Prettie Girls was one of the toughest decisions of my life to take that leap of faith and start something on my own.
At Mattel, I had the comfort of a regular paycheck and benefits, they take care of you…and here I am stepping out on my own. But also what helped is having a great partner like Trent. He’s the firecracker behind the whole corporation we’ve established.
So how did you and Trent meet?
Stacey: We met on a UNCF Empower Me tour. We were on a panel and speaking at colleges. We kinda teamed up and asked me: what do you want? And I said I wanted to start a fashion doll line in the essence of American Girl dolls. That’s my vision. It hasn’t been easy but it seems like everything we need always falls into place at the right time.
Let’s say a little girl wants to be a doll maker or designer, how did your education or background help you pursue your dreams?
Stacey: I always loved playing with dolls–from fashion dolls to baby dolls–and the clothing was most important to me, so that’s when I discovered I wanted to be a fashion designer. I stopped when I was about 13, which is old for girls today but with Prettie Girls I’m trying to bring that back. But that’s when I started to go to the library and research what it takes to be a fashion designer.
Did you go to college or continued studies in this field?
When it was time to graduate high school, I ended up going to Los Angeles Trade Technical College, I did better than I expected because I didn’t know how to sew and no one in my family sewed, so that was a challenge for me. I ended up excelling in Children’s Clothing and got the gold symbol award.
I had a couple of jobs in the fashion industry. My grandmother, who worked in the garment industry when she was younger, was worried that I would have a hard time in the field, which I did. I quit one of the jobs I had and took some computer fashion classes at another college and the teacher there knew I was looking for work and said, “Why not try Mattel?” I thought: toys and fashion design, hmm, but why not give them a try?
I had a newspaper article about a Black fashion designer and cold called her. She didn’t call me back but about a month later I called again and she answered the phone and remembered my call, and said she was actually looking for an assistant. So that’s how I got into Mattel. That’s actually the schooling I got in doll design. When I left I was a Staff Designer – I actually designer the whole product and was in the career doll department. I did the Chef Barbie and she was a TV Chef Barbie and came with a TV camera and all the accessories.
So you’re doing the thing you always dreamed of as a little girl…
Stacey: Yes, but I never dreamed of having my own doll company. I didn’t even know I could work at Mattel. That’s why I wanted to create Prettie Girls as well, I wanted little girls to know the sky is the limit, you just don’t have to settle for the basic 9-5. And now I’m the face of letting girls know they can be what they want to be…
How has being a mom influenced how you work or the career you’ve chosen?
Stacey: She see’s me doing my long hours and she’s like, Mommy, I’m doing my homework, but I see you working non-stop. So she’s definitely getting it that hard work does pay off. I want girls to be inspired and know there are dolls that look like them and that they can have fun until they’re 100 years old. They can be used as a makeup tutorial…I’m going to do Dahlia eyes tomorrow.
Who inspires you?
Stacey: Kitty Black Perkins who gave me opportunity at Mattel. Today. Trent inspires me to move closer towards my dream with this project.
What’s your daily routine like?
Stacey: My day-to-day varies. The Walmart presentation was me pulling together new products and completing a sketch presentation for them. I had to come up with new characters and a story-line for them, research on what I wanted them to wear…and we also work on packaging and so many more things.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced?
Stacey: Financing. This is a major project. I was spoiled at Mattel because everything was accessible. Now we’re like a one-stop shop.
What’s your favorite thing about your company?
Stacey: Being independent and being able to do what I want to do.
What is your five year plan for your company?
Stacey: I would love to see brand extension: whether it’s adding a Prettie Boys to our line, new characters to our line (our Asian and Caucasian dolls are coming soon), to more fashion and accessories, to the retails space with party favors, bedding and even a Prettie Girl cartoon.
Trent, do you have anything to add?
Trent: Listening to Stacey, I’ve literally watched her come full-circle. I think that she personifies what it means for a woman to step out and take that risk. Beyond anything else, I think Stacey is one of our sisters who walked away from the after and put it all on the line. She had a lot of people who love her who said she was “crazy” but her spirit and passion is the essence of these dolls. What the world needs to know is that there’s real heart, passion and soul behind this. The retailers pay attention when we as consumers show up and support projects like this.