Neha Chauhan Woodward, 29, a Harvard University graduate, has created seven dolls that represent common girls with ethnic diversity and celebrates them for their various virtues such as brains, talents and leadership. They symbolize characters that are smart, ambitious and opinionated. She has provided each doll a unique personality that girls can relate to. Each doll is about 18 inches and full-cloth bodied.
The doll collection created by her startup toy company Willowbrook Girls and story series is based on the similarly ambitious childhood friends she grew up with on Willowbrook Road.
"The toys I played with had such an impact on me, but they weren't a great reflection of me or my friends, who were so smart and so diverse in their interests and backgrounds. I knew we needed to do better", says Neha, who studied economics at Harvard and worked as an investment banking analyst at JPMorgan. "A lot of girls I spoke to said that they wanted dolls that looked like them," she said. "They wanted characters that were relatable. You have to see something to know that you can be it".
She further said that, the concept came to her mind when she was pursuing MBA at Stanford university. "I've always had a very entrepreneurial spirit, and this was a mission that I cared about…This was the right time to do it, and it's something that I really wanted to see happen". "Next door to the coffee shop I studied in was a very popular doll store," she said, declining to name the shop.
After years of working for successful e-commerce sites Neha turned her tech marketing experience into a concept for a doll company that would more accurately entertain the modern girl.
She also informs, if and when fully funded, each doll will have a corresponding book about their endeavours. The first one would be about the Willowbrook girls starting a business at their school. The stories will provide more depth to the characters. Growing up as an Indian-American, Neha also wanted to make sure the dolls appeared diverse. "It was something lacking in the toys she grew up with, and hasn't gone unnoticed by young people of colour," she said.
Though the Willowbrook Girls dolls are not ready for sale yet, Neha is nearing the end of her Kickstarter Campaign to raise money for the first doll, Cara, a half Latina with brown eyes and long blond hair. Cara will eventually be sold online. Ms. Neha also hopes that sales from that and other sources will enable her to release more of the dolls.