Diverse dolls with the smart, ambitious, opinionated characters that girls deserve
I’m Neha, and I’m creating a line of dolls with characters that are smart, ambitious, and opinionated. Willowbrook Girls is a doll and story series that gives girls characters that they can see in themselves—girls who are both ordinary and extraordinary, and who are becoming leaders in their own right. We want to move away from the one-dimensional view of girls offered by most dolls, which focuses on appearance, and instead, introduce characters that celebrate girls for their brains, talents, and leadership.
Girls need characters like the Willowbrook Girls because they don’t otherwise exist in toys and media available today. We’re creating dolls and stories with depth. The characters are a group of seven friends in the fifth grade who are intelligent, goal-oriented, and outspoken. Each character has incredible ambition, just like the girls we all know.
Our seven characters are diverse not just in personalities, career ambitions, and interests, but also ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds.
We’re changing things… and we’re excited.
Get the Cara doll, the first of seven Willowbrook Girls
Cara Morales-Burch is an aspiring entrepreneur who loves arts and crafts. She starts a business with the rest of the Willowbrook Girls that is inspired by her latest DIY project. Cara is half-Latina and enjoys learning about both of her cultural backgrounds. You’ll learn more about Cara in our first story, The Brookies Build a Business.
Our dolls are 18 inches and have soft bodies.
Seven friends in fifth grade, each with her own story and ambitions
We’re empowering girls by offering strong role models in the Willowbrook Girls. The characters will inspire our next generation of leaders—the girls who will crush these staggering statistics:
- Women hold less than 5% of CEO positions at Fortune 500 companies
- Women comprise only 20% of the Senate
- Women comprise 14% of engineers in the work force
- Women had nearly half the number of bylines as men at the nation’s top ten most widely circulated newspapers in 2014
- Women directed only 17 of the 250 top grossing films of 2014
Cara Morales-Burch wants to be CEO of her own company
Mackenzie Hill wants to be a Senator
Rory Rosenstein wants to be an engineer
Maya Martinez wants to be a scientist
Anjali Shah wants to be an actress
Perry Yu wants to be a journalist who travels the world
Bailey Fox wants to lead education reform
We’re giving girls characters just like them
Creating dolls with career ambitions was important to us. Our dolls aren’t here to tell girls what they can do. They’re here so they never doubt it.
We want to give girls a different perspective on their gender identity relative to traditional dolls by exposing them to relatable female characters with career ambitions that include ones in which women are underrepresented. Our dolls are not “girl coders” or “girl presidents”—they’re coders, class presidents, and so much more. We want girls to embrace what they already know is in them. The Willowbrook Girls serve as an example of seven girls who do just that.
Learning from dolls with different backgrounds
Many of our best learning experiences when we were younger came from having a diverse group of friends who offered perspectives wildly different from our own. We’ve been disappointed in the lack of diversity in dolls. Willowbrook Girls is a modern doll line that better reflects reality, and features characters that are diverse in backgrounds, whether ethnic or socioeconomic.
Of note, Anjali, an Indian-American doll, and Perry, an Asian-American doll, will be the only dolls of their backgrounds, with their own stories, available in the toy market at launch. Other Willowbrook Girls include Mackenzie, who is African-American, Maya, who is Colombian, and Cara, who is half-Latina. We hope to continue to create diverse characters, each with her own voice and story. Giving each character a voice was extremely important to us, as we’ve seen that many doll brands give minority characters sidekick roles or stories full of stereotypes.
Diversity will continue to be an essential part of the brand as we grow.
The making of our first doll, from sketch to sample
Get to know the characters in our stories
We’ve created characters that are authentic to girls and live up to their ambition. Told from the perspective of each character, our stories are a way for readers to get to know the Willowbrook Girls.
In the first story, written by the fantastic Molly Donovan, we see how Cara inspires her group of friends to start a school business together. The Willowbrook Girls learn about teamwork and how their talents can be used to build the business. They ultimately decide to give their business a social mission.
The first few chapters of The Brookies Build a Business are currently available to preview for free online. We hope you enjoy reading!
Thanks for helping us bring the Willowbrook Girls to life!
More dolls from Willowbrook Girls
We want to produce all seven of the Willowbrook Girls. If we reach our stretch goal of $200k, we’ll be able to ship even more characters by late fall.
We will offer kits that explore the career interests of each character. The kits will be designed in collaboration with the foremost leaders in each field and will include things like activities, skills-based learning, and stories of trailblazing women in these fields.
This is just the beginning
We see a future for Willowbrook Girls beyond the dolls. We’re just getting started… stay tuned!
Visit us at willowbrookgirls.com
Neha Chauhan Woodward is the Founder of Willowbrook Girls. Prior to Willowbrook Girls, she built her career in e-commerce, working at companies like Blue Apron, Diapers.com (Amazon), and DANNIJO. She started her career at JPMorgan. Neha has a BA from Harvard University and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Neha named Willowbrook Girls after her elementary school, Public School 54, which was located on Willowbrook Road in New York.
Follow @willowbrookgirls on Instagram
Over 20,000 people are following Willowbrook Girls’ start on Instagram. We’re so glad the story of seven incredible fifth graders is resonating with girls, boys, and parents alike.
We want to hear from you! Tell us what you think! We’re building a better doll for girls, and need your help to make it happen. Email us at [email protected].