These dolls just got a $200,000 investment on ‘Shark Tank’ because representation matters.

Not long ago, Angelica and Jason Sweeting were driving home when their 3-year-old daughter Sophia started crying and wouldn't stop.

When they asked her what was wrong, Sophia told them that she hated her dark hair and dark skin and wanted to look like Barbie or Elsa, with long blond hair and white skin.

She told them she'd never be beautiful because she didn't look like those dolls.


Sophia's fear hit the couple at their core. They took a hard look at the images their daughter was regularly exposed to, and they promptly saw the problem glaring back at them.

The way Sophia looked wasn't well-represented — not in the media nor in the toys she played with.

They looked everywhere for a black doll that resembled Sophia but couldn't find one.

Yes, there are black dolls and Barbies on the market, but most are simply dark-skinned versions of white dolls. Few offer features that many black girls like Sophia see when they look in the mirror — like wider noses or fuller lips — and even fewer dolls come in a variety of skin tones.

Meet my Co-Founders and biggest inspiration! Sophia + Sydney

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According to the Census Bureau, there are now more racial and ethnic minority children under 5 years old than white children under 5. While dolls have diversified significantly in recent years, it's still a struggle for many parents to find dolls that accurately reflect their children's specific demographic identities.

Dissatisfied with the limited doll options available, Angelica and Jason decided to create their own doll.

Their first 18-inch doll, named Angelica, was modeled after photos of Angelica and Sophia. Her hair was designed to look just like Sophia's, and they even made it washable so it can be styled like real hair.

Having a doll to play with that looked like her, Sophia's confidence levels improved significantly. Together with her younger sister Sydney, Sophia is learning to style her own hair by playing with Angelica's, and she's learning how much there is to love about her curly, voluminous hair.

Seeing how much of an effect the Angelica doll had on Sophia inspired the Sweetings to take their project to the next level. So they launched a Kickstarter to make more dolls. After all, Sophia and Sydney weren't the only little black girls out there desperately in need of seeing themselves represented in the toy aisle.

"Our girls need to see a reflection of their own unique beauty," Angelica explained on their Kickstarter page. "It’s time for our young girls to have a new standard."

After raising $25,000 in just 48 hours, the Sweetings started production on their new doll line: Naturally Perfect dolls.

As soon as they were on the market, kids and parents seemed to love them.

My daughter's 5th birthday was yesterday and Kennedy was one of her gifts, along with this salon chair (Our Generation...

Posted by Candace Kirkman on Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Currently, there are four dolls available: Angelica, Brielle, Camryn, and Kennedy. They all have different skin tones, hair colors, and textures, and diverse careers and interests.

Image via Naturally Perfect Girls, used with permission.

Due to high production costs, the doll's retail price is a lofty $83, even with the funds raised from Kickstarter. So the Sweetings went on "Shark Tank" to try to get some financial support.

@sharktankabc set your calendars! 01/06/2017 EST 9PM Did we survive the tank?

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At first, whether they'd get funding was a bit touch-and-go. The biggest concern the "sharks" had was that Mattel is already working on diversifying its dolls — how could a small company make a dent in the market?

Shark Daymond John, who has mixed-race daughters of his own, came through for the couple, investing $200,000 for 30% of the company. In an interesting twist, the couple also agreed to give 10% of their shares to a girls' empowerment charity.

Thanks to the investment, the Sweetings can lower the dolls' cost and increase the number of dark-skinned dolls on the market.

For all the parents struggling to find dolls that resemble their kids, making the Naturally Perfect dolls more affordable will make a huge difference.

Kennedy 💓 click the link in the bio for 15% off Code = OCT2016 Receive one free outfit!

A photo posted by Beauty Doesn't Come In A Box! (@naturallyperfectdolls) on

In Nigeria in 2015, the Queen of Africa dolls, created by Taofick Okoya, started outselling Barbie because they spoke to the population majority. With the United States becoming a minority-majority nation, large doll companies like Mattel and American Girl might want to take a lesson from the Sweetings and step up their game.

Girls of all races deserve to love themselves. That starts by seeing themselves in the faces of world around them, both human and plastic.

Lainey and baby goat Annie. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse
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Oftentimes, the journey to our true calling is winding and unexpected. Take Lainey Morse, who went from office manager to creator of the viral trend, Goat Yoga, thanks to her natural affinity for goats and throwing parties.

Back in 2015, Lainey bought a farm in Oregon and got her first goats who she named Ansel and Adams. "Once I got them, I was obsessed," says Lainey. "It was hard to get me off the farm to go do anything else."

Right away, she noticed what a calming presence they had. "Even the way they chew their cud is relaxing to be around because it's very methodical," she says. Lainey was going through a divorce and dealing with a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis at the time, but even when things got particularly hard, the goats provided relief.

"I found it impossible to be stressed or depressed when I was with them."

She started inviting friends up to the farm for what she called "Goat Happy Hour." Soon, the word spread about Lainey's delightful, stress-relieving furry friends. At one point, she auctioned off a child's birthday party at her farm, and the mom asked if they could do yoga with the goats. And lo, the idea for goat yoga was born.

A baby goat on a yoga student. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Goat yoga went viral so much so that by fall of 2016, Lainey was able to quit her office manager job at a remodeling company to manage her burgeoning goat yoga business full-time. Now she has 10 locations nationwide.

Lainey handles the backend management for all of her locations, and loves that side of the business too, even though it's less goat-related. "I still have my own personal Goat Happy Hour every single day so I still get to spend a lot of time with my goats," says Lainey. "I get the best of both worlds."

Lainey with her goat Fabio. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Since COVID-19 hit, her locations have had to close temporarily. She hopes her yoga locations will be able to resume classes in the spring when the vaccine is more widely available. "I think people will need goat yoga more than ever before, because everyone has been through so much stress in 2020," says Lainey.

Major life changes like Lainey's can come around for any number of reasons. Even if they seem out of left field to some, it doesn't mean they're not the right moves for you. The new FOX series "Call Me Kat", which premieres Sunday, January 3rd after NFL and will continue on Thursday nights beginning January 7th, exemplifies that. The show is centered around Kat, a 39-year old single woman played by Mayim Bialik, who quit her math professor job and spent her life's savings to pursue her dreams to open a Cat Café in Louisville, Kentucky.

Jeff Harry started making similar moves when he was just 10-years-old, and kept making them throughout his life. After seeing the movie "Big,"Jeff knew he wanted to play with toys for a living, so he started writing toy companies asking for next steps. He finally got a response when he was a sophomore in high school — the company told him he needed to become a mechanical engineer first.

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Katie Schieffer is a mom of a 9-year-old who was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after spending some time in the ICU. Diabetes is a nuisance of a disease on its own, requiring blood sugar checks and injections of insulin several times a day. It can also be expensive to maintain—especially as the cost of insulin (which is actually quite inexpensive to make) has risen exponentially.

Schieffer shared an emotional video on TikTok after she'd gone to the pharmacy to pick up her son's insulin and was smacked with a bill for $1000. "I couldn't pay for it," she says through tears in the video. "I now have to go in and tell my 9-year-old son I couldn't pay for it."

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Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

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"What's 'the Holocaust'?" my 11-year-old son asks me. I take a deep breath as I gauge how much to tell him. He's old enough to understand that prejudice can lead to hatred, but I can't help but feel he's too young to hear about the full spectrum of human horror that hatred can lead to.

I wrestle with that thought, considering the conversation I recently had with Ben Lesser, a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor who was just a little younger than my son when he witnessed his first Nazi atrocity.

It was September of 1939 and the Blitzkrieg occupation of Poland had just begun. Ben, his parents, and his siblings were awakened in their Krakow apartment by Nazi soldiers who pistol-whipped them out of bed and ransacked their home. As the men with the shiny black boots filled burlap sacks with the Jewish family's valuables, a scream came from the apartment across the hall. Ben and his sister ran toward the cry.

They found a Nazi swinging their neighbors' baby upside down by its legs, demanding that the baby's mother make it stop crying. As the parents screamed, "My baby! My baby!" the Nazi smirked—then swung the baby's head full force into the door frame, killing it instantly.

This story and others like it feel too terrible to tell my young son, too out of context from his life of relative safety and security. And yet Ben Lesser lived it at my son's age. And it was too terrible—for anyone, much less a 10-year-old. And it was also completely out of context from the life of relative safety and security Ben and his family had known before the Nazi tanks rolled in.

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Nearly a year into the deadliest pandemic in a century, the U.S. is still battling not only the virus, but Americans living in denial of reality as well.

Take this video of a group of anti-maskers who stood in front of a Trader Joe's entrance and tried to argue that they had every right to shop there without masks. The woman narrating the video states that they have "a right to commerce" (they don't—there's literally no such right), that Trader Joe's doesn't have the right to require masks (they do—it's their store), that the mandate to wear masks in public places can't be enforced because it's not a real law (it can—), and that they were not there to demonstrate, but just to buy groceries (umm, right).

The manager, to his credit, did what he could to calmly talk with these people while also making it clear that they were not going to enter the store without a mask.

"The point you're trying to make isn't going to be made with us," he said. "It can be made with your government...I am not here to debate policy. I totally respect for you to think anything you want to think...my job, as manager of the store is to enforce the mandate, whether you believe in it or not."


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