Babson Business, Melanites, Getting Noticed
Babson graduate student Jennifer Pierre M’ 16 is looking to make a difference in the toy industry. She is doing just that with her business, Melanites. She isn’t only making an impact at Babson, but also in the local media.
Melanites is a toy company expanding representation in the toy aisles with the first line of boy dolls of color.
Pierre and her team are challenging gender stereotypes and the lack of diversity in the toy industry. Her products, “Action Pals” and accessory kits (Thinker, Doer, Maker, and Performer), inspire young boys to build their own personas and dream big. The pals have a diverse range of skin tones, facial features, and hair types reflective of the multicultural demographic.
She says this social innovation venture is a celebration of brown boyhood.
Melanites was born out of a discovered need, the need for better role models and more diversity in children’s toys. Pierre worked closely with young boys at a local community center last year and realized many of the kids dreamed only in their own reality; they couldn’t see out of the world that was around them.
“The messaging they received on a daily basis from various factors like TV and media, did not provide positive affirmation. I wanted to change this,” says Pierre.
Melanites means Melanin (pigment) filled, illuminating the many colors in our society. When we celebrate brown boyhood, she says, it is a message to all the black and brown boys in our communities:
Dream Big, Stand Tall, and Live out your childhood.
“Our society has built a glass ceiling on young boys’ mind about what they can be when they grow up,” says Pierre. “We are changing this by inspiring young children of color to feel empowered and valued in our society.”
Having diversity in their toy selection shows children from the beginning, stories that they can relate to and have characters that look like them.
“The ultimate goal is helping to create a world in which young boys can not only see their identity around them, but watch it being celebrated,” says Pierre.
How You Can Help
Pierre and the Melanites team are launched their Kickstarter campaign on April 11th. The funding goal is $35,000 in order to cover manufacturing costs and to fill initial orders. Make sure to check out her website and video for more information.