We always enjoying chatting with the creative founders of our NAPPA Award winning toys. Today we’re spotlighting Purpose Toys. The mission behind this Los Angeles-based company is all about celebrating culture and giving children dolls that represent their unique heritage. We’re excited to introduce you to the founder and CEO as we chat about being a mom and entrepreneur.
Please tell us a little about the mission behind Purpose Toys and what led you to start this company.
Purpose Toys was founded in 2020, ignited as a result of the unfathomably tragic events of that year. My son and millions of Black children were exposed to unbearably negative rhetoric aimed at our community. During this period, I recall cocooning my son with stories and images that represented the best of who we are. Purpose Toys was created as my way of cocooning the children of my community with playthings that represent the best of our Culture, and who we are as a people.
As a mom and an entrepreneur, why do you think creating toys with a cultural mission is important?
As POC (“People of Culture”) we are more than our skin. Many of us have cultural language, cultural clothing, cultural hairstyles, food, art dance music! With our NATURALISTAS and LATINISTAS doll lines, we are changing the discussion around representation to include nuanced cultural storytelling in toys, not just (what my team calls) “ambiguous multiculturalism”. Our goal is to position Children of Culture to feel like the main character in their play experience, and not a sidekick as part of a multi-cultural line.
What toys did you play with as a child?
My fire engine red race car (with blue and white stripes). Lol …and, of course, fashion play. But playing with Black fashion dolls in the 80’s felt, at times, confusing. As a coily-haired kid, sometimes I was left with feelings of inadequacy playing with Black dolls with extremely straight hair. What would have done wonders for me, and many African American girls, is to have had entire line of Black Natural Hair fashion dolls like Naturalistas! Growing up in western society, Black women and girls are made to feel unusual about our unique tresses, rather than celebrated. At Purpose Toys, we’re changing that by uplifting our community and natural hair with beautiful and accessible CULTURE-driven products for kids.
Did you have a mentor growing up? And what role did that person play in your life and your career?
My grandmother was my biggest cheerleader and mentor growing up. Noticing my creative talents early on, my grandparents provided me with every resource necessary to refine my interests. It is because of my grandparents’ unwavering support, I was able to successfully pursue careers in creative fields (music, fashion and now toys).
Best life advice you received growing up?
Pursue what makes you happy.
How has parenthood changed you?
Parenthood is the longest service-oriented position any one person is blessed enough to hold. Better to give than to receive, to be of service to my little boy as he adorably evolves into the man he is destined to be, is literally the greatest gift.
What advice do you have for mom entrepreneurs who are trying to juggle life and career?
Align yourself with professionals willing to share their resources, not just advice. Too often I hear entrepreneurs, when asked similar questions, give vague daily affirmation-like advice, like ‘believe in yourself.’ You can ‘believe in yourself’ all you want, but if you lack a network of decision-makers to help bring your ideas to market, belief alone won’t get you very far. In addition to being the largest Black-owned CULTURE-driven toy company in the nation, Purpose Toys also prides itself on being a “Pipeline to Major Retail for Toy Entrepreneurs of Culture.” I am one of few Black women who can say I not only built a multi-million dollar business for myself, I built a multi-million dollar business for a fellow Black woman, a mother and toy entrepreneur. And through Purpose Toys (and Purpose Toys LATIN) I will do it again and again.
What would you tell your middle school self?
Your hair is beautiful and so are you.
When not working, where will we find you?
Exploring soulful old-school music catalogs with my son.
What are some of your favorite spots and activities in and around LA that you enjoy with your teenage son and on your own?
Temescal Canyon hike trail will always hold a special place in my heart. Will Rogers State Park, where my son practices polo, (not LA but) Big Sur, Ojai and any freshly powdered CA mountain.