CARLSTADT, New Jersey -- Aniqua Wilkerson is an artist and designer who is diversifying toy boxes with her handmade, one-of-a-kind crochet dolls.
Inspired to address a lack of diversity in dolls, Wilkerson launched My Kinda Thing, a business to empower children of color by helping them to feel seen and represented.
"I used to be an early childhood educator, and that is where I got to witness firsthand how important pretend play is to the early childhood experience and development. From there, it became a mission for me to find yarns that would realistically depict children of color, particularly Black girls," Wilkerson said.
After eight years of hand-making dolls and selling them internationally, Wilkerson partnered with the Lion Brand Yarn Company to launch "Skein Tones", a new brand of yarn that comes in 12 different shades of brown.
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"Aniqua knows, personally and professionally, the deep need for an inclusive product like Skein Tones to exist in the crafting space. There really hasn't been a diverse line of yarn that reflects a wide array of nudes. We're so honored that Aniqua could bring her singular artistry and perspective to this partnership," said Shira Blumenthal, a brand ambassador for Lion Brand Yarn Company.
From nurse dolls to whimsical figures, Wilkerson has created dolls for children all across the United States and in countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom.
Wilkerson hopes that through her creations, children of all races can see themselves represented in their toys. She hopes that toy companies take into consideration the importance of showcasing diversity and inclusion in toys.
"My goal is to make sure that we love who we are. Differences are dope, and I think that people should understand we are different, supposed to be different, and that's fine," Wilkerson said.
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