Bevy and Dave, launched by Tiffney Laing in 2016, sells toys that help young children learn about and celebrate Black history.
Tiffney Laing, from Ashburn, Virginia, was formerly employed in the education sector as an administrator and professor of leadership studies. At the same time, she was enrolled in a doctoral program, researching how children learn Black history. Unfortunately, she soon came to realize that young children simply had no toys through which they could learn about Black history. Therefore, she left the doctoral program to develop solutions to the problem and subsequently launched Bevy and Dave in 2016. Her company builds toys to help parents and educators explore Black history through the lens of leadership, rather than oppression, Good Morning America reports.
"When you understand the experiences of African Americans and Black people around the world, if you're going to study the oppression, you also have to talk about how they were able to succeed beyond that," she said in an interview with the news outlet. "I feel like children should be inspired by Black History and not be depressed by it. Can you imagine constantly being told something negative and never following up with something positive? It does something to the spirit." Laing is a mother herself, to Beverly, aged nine. Her research began online in 2015 when she was in pursuit of toys for her daughter that celebrated Black leaders.
Her search led her to a trade show where she met with manufacturers and designers. Laing eventually found a designer, and the two brought to life the toys she had imagined. These toys were intended to teach children what school textbooks failed to share. The first toy by Bevy and Dave, a wooden puzzle block set, was launched in October 2016. Now, there are three additional wooden puzzles that celebrate Black inventors and leaders, including Carter G. Woodson, who is credited for creating Black History Month. Students in preschool through elementary will enjoy the toys.
The founder shared, "Those are impressionable years. Our job as adults is to do the very best of helping children see the best in themselves—encourage and empower them. If we really want to get past those racial barriers, we [also] have to share the beauty of everyone's contributions. As they get a little older and they start to connect to their heritage, country and learn about diff ethnic groups, they will see through a lens that will be helpful and not hurtful." Since first establishing her company, Laing has gone on to win $5,000 to expand her Bevy and Dave as part of GMA3's "The Second Act Showdown" in 2020.
This year alone, she has four new toys in the pipeline. She also recently partnered with The Homeless Children's Playtime Project, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, to share Bevy and Dave toys with children who live in women's shelters for folks who are victims of domestic violence. Owing to the pandemic and the shift to virtual learning, Laing additionally has plans to offer a free, virtual workshop for these children, where she will teach them Black history.