My Kinda Thing Owner, Aniqua Wilkerson Talks Dolls and Natural Hair

                              
                                                                    
1BlessedNatural: My Kinda Thing Owner, Aniqua Wilkerson Talks Dolls and Natural Hair (photo cred: My Kinda Thing)

If you ask My Kinda Thing owner and doll maker, Aniqua Wilkerson what sets her custom crochet dolls apart from other dolls on the market, she will tell you the fact that they're one-of-a-kind! Last week, I was blessed with the opportunity to speak with her about natural hair and her beautifully custom crochet dolls that are in high demand.


It was 2013 when Aniqua Wilkerson decided to quit her job as a full-time early childhood educator in New York City and started seriously pursing her passion as a doll maker. The entrepreneur said her background in sociology and education helped her to understand doll making in a whole new way! Wilkerson said, "Through working with younger children, I noticed (in child development) when they become self-aware and when they start to realize or have self-esteem is as early as 2 to 3 years old." 
Because of her knowledge of self-awareness in children, Wilkerson began to understand the development of self-awareness and image in children of color, mainly girls.

Although Wilkerson began crocheting monsters and aliens, she said her interests switched to dolls. After making the first one, she did some research to find out how many other doll-makers there were out there. She was shocked to find that only two doll makers made Black dolls. Plus, they were white. Wilkerson said, "Because I know that we [Black people] crochet and all that, but I was just like: Oh my gosh! Really? And so from there, I was like, nah I gotta do this."

My Kinda Things owner, Aniqua Wilkerson (photo cred: Aniqua Wilkerson/My Kinda Thing)

The first thing Wilkerson thinks about when designing a doll is its skin tone. She offers over 17 different ones, and many of them include different shades of dark brown. Through her work and words, Wilkerson stresses the importance of little Black girls loving themselves regardless of the standards of beauty that are often placed on them. The Bronx, NY native encourages her customers to just think of the type of doll they would like, and she can create it! 
                                        
In addition, Wilkerson created two collections of dolls that center around the idea of self-love and they include the Beautifully Brown Doll Collection and "The Color Project". The doll maker said, "The purpose of "The Color Project" was to explore color both figuratively and literally. It's an unusual look at melanin and the absence of pigmentation through doll making." One of Wilkerson's goals for "The Color Project" was to bring awareness to the fact that Black and brown people include those with albinism, and she wanted to bring attention to the beauty in them. 
                        
One of the most exciting things about the My Kinda Thing dolls is that they include natural hairstyles. The dolls can be seen rocking puffs, cornrows, twists, braids, and more! Besides other little girls, Wilkerson says her 5 nieces are an inspiration for her dolls. Each one has a different skin tone and hair texture. Two weeks ago, the doll maker and one of her nieces attended the World Natural Hair Expo in NYC. Wilkerson created a doll that had colorful beaded braids, and then she cornrowed her nieces' hair with colorful extensions to match.


Wilkerson's niece and her new friend at the Natural Hair Expo in NY (photo cred: Aniqua Wilkerson/My Kinda Thing)

Both of the girls received compliments from others about their hair and dolls. Wilkerson was very pleased with the response because it boosted the girls' confidence about their natural hair. She said, "I think that it's so important that our girls know that who they are...what they are is unique and beautiful."

Wilkerson went natural back in 2000. The doll maker said locs were her 18th birthday present. After getting tired of the perm smell and burns, Wilkerson, who was in high school at the time made a choice to go natural by cutting her hair short to start the lock process:

I put some glitter in that joint, and I put on really cute headbands! I was just like, "Listen, it is what it is and going in all different directions, but, it’s all good!" I’m going to tell you… [It is]one of the best decisions I’ve made to date, because if I would’ve known how nice and how wonderful I was going to feel later on, because I didn’t... I just knew that I didn’t want perms anymore. I know that I didn’t like the smell when it got hot outside and you had a fresh perm. It’s a weird smell! It’s like no matter what kind of good smelling oils and things you put it in, it’s still that weird perm smell. I just knew I didn’t want to burn my scalp no more and I knew that with my locs, I wouldn’t have to worry about that. I wouldn’t have to worry about combs no more, because I was also very tender headed. I’m just so proud of that decision, and the compliments that I got throughout the process even gave me more confidence like, “You made a good decision.”

The doll maker said creating natural black hairstyles on her dolls is not only for her customers but for herself as well. My Kinda of Thing dolls has been sold around the world including in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Trinidad. An interesting fact is that all of the international dolls had natural hairstyles.

"My Lemonade Sisters" collection by My Kinda Thing (photo cred: My Kinda Thing/Aniqua Wilkerson)

As I said before, Aniqua Wilkerson proudly creates cute and fun one-of-a-kind dolls. She compares them to there being only one of each person. She said, "Celebrate that you are the only one on this planet with your compilation of details and experiences. There is no one in the world like you, and that's real!"


What do you think of the My Kinda Thing dolls?


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