Little girls love their dolls. Whenever I used to receive a doll as a child, the first thing I did was play with her hair. I’d brush, comb, and practically envy the long blonde or black silky hair that was attached to my usually creamy complexioned Barbie doll.
I remember the first time I got a Black doll too. She still had long silky hair, and as any impressionable child would, I wondered how come I didn’t have some long silky black hair down my back? What was wrong with my hair? I always wondered how my self-perception could have been altered in the early years had I had a doll with hair and features like mine? And now with my own daughter, it’s very important to me for her to see positive examples of her hair and brown skin. Imagine my excitement when I found out about Natural Hair Dolls by Karen Byrd!
Karen Byrd has made it her mission to show the world the diversity of Ethnic and Multicultural hair with her Natural Hair Dolls. The dolls come with Kinky Afros, Curly Afros, Afro Puffs, Braids, Locs, Twists and more! Karen’s motto is simply “our beauty, recognized…” and she aims to showcase the range in which our crowning glory can be represented. Take a look at the interview I had with Karen below and learn more about Natural Girls United and the lovely Natural Hair Dolls.
I was born and raised in Northern California. I have always considered myself an artist, but ended up with a career in Corporate America. During the summer of 2011, I decided to take up a project that I have wanted to work on for some time with customizing doll hair to have styles that are inspired by the natural hair community.
What was the defining moment that pushed you to start Natural Girls & Women United?
As a child, there were no dolls that looked like me. As an adult, my own children found it hard to find dolls that looked like them. So I decided that if the opportunity ever came up that I could work on styling dolls, I would take it.
How long does it take and what is your process in creating the dolls?
It depends on the style. It can take anywhere from two hours to two days to complete various styles that are offered at NaturalGirlsUnited.com
What was the initial feedback you received about Natural Hair Dolls?
People were excited and grateful. A lot of women and moms told me about their own experiences with not being able to find dolls as children and adults that represented themselves or their children.
What has surprised you most about creating and sharing Natural Hair Dolls with the public?
How open everyone has been with their personal experiences. It has been great sharing stories with people both in the US and internationally.
What is an interesting story about a customer interaction or feedback you had regarding your natural hair dolls?
I received a long handwritten thank you letter. I thought that was awesome! No one really writes letters any more. We are all into email, text or phone. So I was very honored that someone would take the time to write me a letter telling me how grateful they are for what I am doing.
What has been your own natural hair journey?
I use to think that I needed to have long straight hair to be beautiful. I would perm my hair and wear weaves, but it just never felt right. No matter what style I wore, it felt like a lie. Like it did not represent who I was. So I decide to loc my hair one year, with the support of a loved one and it was one of the best things I have done for myself. I love my natural hair.
What advice would you offer anyone who is aspiring to start a natural hair journey?
To be patient, do lots of research and join supportive communities that embrace natural hair.
Tell us more about the Naturally Beautiful Hair Blog?
The Naturally Beautiful Hair Blog is a place for our community to come to together and share stories, art, poems, experiences and inspiration photos.
Creating my blog has been really amazing for me. I have gotten to meet and talk to so many people because of it. I have learned so much and have become wiser for it. It has been an enriching experience and I hope to be able to continue to blog for a long time to come.
Where can we find you online and in social media?
For those who’d like to purchase a Natural Hair Doll, what must they do?
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you, Natural Hair Dolls or the Naturally Beautiful Hair Blog?
I think it is great that we as a community can come together and talk about the issue of our beauty not being represented properly or fairly in the media. It is something that needs to be address and we will have to continue to fight for it. I hope that my blog and dolls will play a part in people starting to realize that there is more than just one kind of beauty.