Black History Trailblazers and Changemakers 2020-DAY 25: Dr. Lisa Williams

Dr. Lisa Willams, a mom, professor, and founder of a multi-million dollar company created and launched a doll line to honor the beauty and intelligence of multicultural children and help boost their self-esteem.

Why Dr. Lisa left academics to start her doll line

"One day while watching an updated doll study, I saw a beautiful little mocha- skinned girl say she didn’t think the brown doll was pretty because its skin was nasty.  She then touched her own hand and said, “just like mine”.  As my heart broke and tears flowed down my face, I said, "Oh my goodness, this begins in early childhood." At that moment, I knew I had to create dolls for multicultural girls. "

Her entrepreneur journey begins

In 2003, she formed the World of Entertainment, Publishing and Inspiration (World of EPI) with the mission of spreading joy by providing children with dolls that inspire dreams, promote intelligence and build self-esteem.  

In 2009, she created Positively Perfect Dolls (PPD), which includes 14" and 18" baby dolls with custom-blended skin tones, beautiful full lips, cute noses, and natural hair textures and styles.

The line began with just two African-American dolls at one retailer, but the collection has grown to over 20 dolls representing African-American, Latina, and Middle Eastern girls. She has now added has a doll fashion line and accessories to the Positively Perfect line. The PPD Collection is being distributed in the US, Australia, Dubai, France, South America, Mexico, Switzerland and in other parts of the world.

A message about the Positively Perfect Doll Line

A new doll line for older girls

In 2017, Dr. Lisa launched a line for older multicultural girls called FRESH.  In addition to custom-blended skin tones, beautifully authentic facial features, and trendy fashions, the hips, thighs and waists of this line are more representative and realistic of this age group. They are also fashioned with hairstyles that include, braids, afros, afro-puffs, wavy and curly styles. 

Academic career

Before Dr. Lisa began her doll line, she enjoyed a successful academic career. She was the first female professor to receive a multi-million dollar endowed chair, the first African American professor to earn tenure at Penn State University, and the first African American to receive a doctorate in Logistics from Ohio State University.

Recognitions and awards

  • Outstanding Female Faculty Member of the Year from Penn State University
  • Amazing Woman by University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV)
  • Trailblazer Award by the American Marketing Association Ph.D. Project
  • Supplier of the Year Award for her visionary leadership from Walmart
  • Featured in the book 50 Billion Dollar Bosses
  • Featured on the covers of Black Enterprise and The Grio Magazines
  • Ernst & Young Entrepreneurial Winning Women, Class of 2013
  • Interviewed by Tamron Hall on News Nation
  • Her column Profiles in Leadership has been published in the Supply Chain Management Review Magazine
  • Her research has been published in the
    • Journal of Marketing Channels
    • Journal of Business Logistics
    • The Transportation Journal
    • The International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management

The study that inspired Dr. Lisa

The original doll study (sometimes called doll test) that Dr. Lisa mentioned was conducted in the 1940s by Dr. Kenneth Clark and Mamie Clark.  1947  Doll Study for Kenneth Clark and Mamie Clark and was credited with helping overturn the segregation of schools in 1950's America.

CNN's Anderson Cooper highlighted a similar study done in 2010. This test was done 63 years after the original one and reveals how 21st-century children feel about race and why there is a need for Dr. Lisa's dolls.



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