|Prodigyrls Janelle and Nicole photograph courtesy of Dr. Daniela Wiggins|
Today's post was originally published at the DOLLS magazine website, written when I was one of their "Voices of the Industry" bloggers. During a several-week period in 2009, my blog posts were featured, usually weekly, under the heading: Dolls in Black: Chronicles and Perspectives.
This week as I prepared to share what inspired me to purchase Prodigyrls, Janelle and Nicole, for a "Doll a Day" activity, I discovered my interview of the founder of the Prodigyrls dolls is no longer accessible at the DOLLS website. In fact, all blog posts written by the "Voices of the Industry" have been removed.
Because others might enjoy the dolls' story and because they remain available to purchase, this post is a re-blog of my 2009 interview of Dr. Daniela Wiggins.
*****Dolls That Inspire Girls to Dream
written November 1, 2009
I recently discovered the Prodigyrls after reading a fellow doll enthusiast’s blog about them (http://whosthemamahere.blogspot.com/2009/10/prodigyrls-now-available-for-pre-order.html). She noted that two of the planned dolls are available for preorder and urged readers to vote for their favorite doll.
At the website, I voted for the doll I plan to preorder and followed the link to “Design a Prodigyrl.” I designed a doll collector that would come with her own doll or two. During my website visit, I inquired via the “contact us” link, why the dolls were not being released simultaneously. I received a prompt reply from the dolls’ creator, Daniela Wiggins, MD, who wrote, “Releasing our dolls in phases helps with our research and product development.”
Intrigued about the dolls and their concept, I wanted to know more about them and asked a series of questions, which Dr. Wiggins again readily answered. I believe doll enthusiasts (collectors and parents who desire to expose their daughters to wholesome dolls with a purpose) will delight in learning about the inspiration behind the dolls’ creation.
Dr. Wiggins shared the following:
“The idea for Prodigyrls (named by combining prodigy + girls) came to me about two years ago. Two completely separate thoughts came together to form our doll company. The first idea came as a result of my frustration with the lack of black dolls on the market. The second idea was to write a series of children's books about health and nutrition based on the millions of questions my children asked me about medicine. At the time, my daughter was 7 years old and I had NEVER purchased a doll for her. She had been given dolls as gifts, but I had never seen a doll I felt compelled to buy. When I asked around about black dolls, I was referred to a doll which was a freed slave. Although slavery is an important time in our nation’s history to learn about, we have been and are so much more than former slaves. I was also disappointed by the fashion dolls with heavy makeup and sometimes inappropriate clothes. Every mother I spoke with wanted the same thing I did, dolls that actually looked like our children and that were positive and inspirational.
“One morning, as I sat on the edge of my bed, the two ideas merged. I would create a collection of African-American dolls, each with a special talent or passion, and I would use each doll's story to teach age appropriate health information to children, Prodigyrls was born. Since then we have created many dolls with varying talents and interests, the first 5 of which appear on our website. We are still in our research and development phase and are now selling Nicole (the doctor doll) and Janelle (the chef doll).
“Our target market is African-American girls 5-8 years old.
“We have put a lot of time and energy into creating our dolls with features that represent the beauty and diversity of the African-American community. This has not been easy. Manufacturers have historically not paid attention to such details. Our dolls are 18 inches tall with vinyl head, neck, arms, and legs. The torso is cloth, dyed to match the vinyl skin color. Our dolls have varying skin tones and hair textures. The hair is rooted on all of our dolls with Sienna being the only exception. Sienna has locs and those will likely be wigged. There will be extra clothing for the dolls and accessories. Nicole has a doctor set and Janelle has a cooking set. Each doll will also have a picture book which will tell the story of her special talent or what she is passionate about.”
While several dolls were planned at the time of the above interview, to date the only two Prodigyrls that have been produced are the two I own. At the Prodigyrils website Janelle and Nicole are now reduced from $69.99 to 56.99. Parents: Think Christmas. Collectors of 18-inch dolls: You'll love them.
See photos of actual dolls here, here, and read more about Dr. Wiggins here.