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Mattel has launched a Barbie doll to honor Madam CJ Walker, America's first self-made woman millionaire

The toy manufacturer released the new doll of the icon as part of Barbie's Inspiring Women Series, which pays tribute to incredible heroines of their time.

Mattel has launched a Barbie doll to honor Madam CJ Walker, America's first self-made woman millionaire
Image Source: Barbie / Amazon

Mattel has long honored women icons in American history. Now, it is Madam CJ Walker's turn. The toy manufacturing company recently announced a Barbie doll in her honor. Walker was the first self-made woman millionaire in the United States, building a business empire by going door to door to sell hair products. She was responsible for cultivating the industry of modern Black haircare and cosmetics and creating the role of the 20th-century businesswoman. Mattel's new Barbie doll, developed by Lead Designer for Barbie Signature Carlyle Nuera, captures Walker in the period of her life when she was building her empire, My Modern Met reports.



 

The new Barbie doll was created in collaboration with A'Lelia Bundles, great great granddaughter of Madam Walker. She is also the Walker family's official biographer and historian, as well as an author and journalist in her own right. Nuera announced the new Barbie doll via her personal Instagram. She wrote, "I did an initial sketch, and from then on, A’Lelia guided us, granting us access to the Walker Family photo archives, providing insight into things like what Madam’s favorite colors were, and the societal context that she lived in. I sent A’Lelia samples of different Barbie skin tones, hair textures and colors, and bodies for her to choose from, so that the Madam CJ Walker Barbie would turn out as accurately as possible. A’Lelia was absolutely clutch in the development of this doll!"



 

"I wanted to capture Madam CJ Walker in the period of her life when she was building her empire, the true definition of self-made," Nuera continued. "Thinking about how she believed in her Wonderful Hair Grower as a product, selling it door to door. So I had to include that as an accessory for the Barbie!" Therefore, she collaborated with graphic designer Jendayi Smith and sculptor Sean Olmos of Mattel Sculpting to create "a Barbie-sized Wonderful Hair Grower, a teeny tiny tin that fits on the tip of [her] finger." According to Nuera, Olmos sculpted and engineered the product to have a removable lid with sculpted and painted faux hair product inside, whereas Smith recreated the iconic image of Madam Walker on the lid, scaling it down perfectly to fit.



 

In addition to this, Smith designed the delicate floral of the doll's blouse, incorporating Madam’s favorite colors. The packaging was developed using a photo of Madam Walker’s Villa Lewaro estate for the background and also using Madam’s favorite colors for the outer box. With the help of marketing partners Amy Goldenberg and Carmyn Cosey, the team nailed down a direction for the photo shoot set to rightfully tell Madam CJ Walker’s story. The doll is part of Barbie's Inspiring Women Series which pays tribute to incredible heroines of their time—courageous women who took risks, changed rules and paved the way for generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before. You can purchase your own Madam CJ Walker doll on Amazon here.



 

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