Jason and Angelica Sweeting want their girls to have dolls they can relate to. All too often, dolls are an unrealistic portrayal of femininity. The Sweetings, who are black, grew tired of buying dolls for their daughters that didn't portray girls of color appropriately. “Black Barbie,” for instance, is basically Barbie with dark skin.
That's why they created Naturally Perfect Dolls. They wanted to give their daughters, and other girls of color, a doll that looked like them, not some plastic representation of unattainable female beauty. Naturally Perfect dolls have kinky and washable hair, full lips and cheekbones, brown eyes, and dark skin.
The “crowd” loved their idea and they raised over $80K on Kickstarter to get the first batch of dolls made. At $85 each, they're a bit pricey, but they're durable and will last for a little girl's “doll lifetime.” Of course, they also sell a crap ton of clothes and accessories. They probably want a Shark to help them expand into mass retail.
My Take on Naturally Perfect Dolls
With four daughters, our family has seen its fair share of dolls. I rarely bought them for my daughters, my mother loved giving each of the girls a doll for a present and I let her do it. When the kids were younger, we had countless Barbies and of course each daughter had an American Girl Doll. The older kids once dressed their newborn sister in American Girl Doll clothes.
American Girl has a line of dolls called the “Truly Me” collection that has varying hair textures, eye, skin and hair colors, but they all have the same facial features. Naturally Perfect varies not only colors, but facial structure as well. This gives their product a different look. They're also about thirty bucks cheaper than American Girl. When I think of the money my mother spent on American Girl, I shudder. She could have bought me a new car!
I like what the Sweetings are doing. Their primary goal is to build self-esteem for girls, which is always a good thing. While my family's doll buying days are over, I wish them well.
Do the Sharks Get Dolled Up?
Americans spend nearly 2.6 billion dollars on dolls each year. That's a lot of money. The Sharks know it's a big market, but it's also a crowded market. The challenge for the Sweetings is getting noticed among the thousands of other doll products on the market.
Mr. Wonderful always says he knows the toy business and he has connections. He'd be a good partner. If Lori thought they'd sell well on TV, she could make a play, too. She's the only Shark on tonight's panel that ever played with a doll, so she could identify.
What it comes down to for the Sweetings is whether they give up enough equity to make a difficult journey for a Shark worth it. I think all the Sharks will like the concept, but will they like the business?