The career of Lisa Williams, Ph.D., is a prime example of why we should never box in our dreams. The scholar was already successful in both academia and the literary world when she decided to venture into the doll-making business.
Williams was inspired to come up with a multicultural doll line after seeing an Anderson Cooper segment on CNN re-creating a groundbreaking 1940s study that uncovered racial preferences young Black girls had toward white dolls over black ones. The new findings showed that even though decades had passed, Black children still associated lighter skin tones with “nice” or “good” and associated darker skin tones with “mean” or “bad.” Motivated by love and the desire to see kids develop a greater sense of appreciation for their skin color at an early age, Williams decided to create dolls that reflected the unique beauty of young Black girls.
At the time the former college professor knew nothing about making dolls, but she was determined to turn this side hustle into a main hustle that would not only benefit her financially but would also empower generations of Black girls to come.
Through grit and determination, Williams’s Positively Perfect launched at Walmart stores nationwide in 2010. The initial line offered two dolls whose appearance represented the varied skin tones and features of Black girls. In existence for nearly a decade, the brand has expanded to feature 20 diverse dolls. What started out as a passion project went on to generate millions of dollars in revenue for Williams and her company. With her bravery and boldness, she exemplifies the spirit of a hustler—a person who is able to skillfully navigate unknown territory to create a product that impacts culture. Her living legacy will always be marked by her business savvy and love for the Black community.