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Latinistas, the first exclusive line of Hispanic dolls: 'We make toys of culture'

Jovanna Rosado, Head of Purpose Toys Latin (a division of Purpose Toys, LLC), and DeeDee Wright-Ward, founder and CEO of Purpose Toys, explain to Voz Media how the idea of ​​creating dolls that represented Latin American cultures arose.

Imagen promocional de Las Cuatro Amigas, las muñecas que conforman la línea Latinistas

Las 'Cuatro Amigas'

Waking up to salsa at full volume, the aroma of pork at a party and bolero music being sung by your mother at the top of her lungs. These are memories "forever imprinted in my heart," says Jovanna Rosado, head of Purpose Toys Latin (a division of Purpose Toys, LLC), remembering her childhood in a Hispanic family in the United States. For Rosado, her mother and her Latin heritage occupy a special place in her heart: "She has always exuded a special love for her culture."

This strong connection to her roots inspired Rosado to work with Purpose Toys on their launch of Latinistas, the first exclusive line of Hispanic dolls. So much so that one of the four dolls is inspired by her mother: "Lola’s dicho is 'La Cultura Viene del Corazón' – ‘Culture Comes from the Heart,’ which is something I learned at an early age from my mother and the women in my family."

I am me, a proud Latina, not because of where I was born, but because of my passion and love for my culture. It was really important for me to remind children to remember this and that it really does come from the heart.

Julianna, Dani and Liv are the other three dolls that make up the Latinistas collection—informally nicknamed "Las Amigas" by the Purpose Latin team. Each one has distinctive physical features and its own story to represent the diversity within the Latino community: "We all have different motivations, interests, and passions, and by combining those with our core values tied to the love of our family, friendships and culture, we create a recipe that drives our happiness and success."

The rebirth of dolls is an opportunity for Latinistas

With the success of the movie "Barbie," dolls are experiencing a bit of a renaissance. With Barbie, Nancy, Bratz and other, what space do Latin dolls occupy in this market that is thriving, but full of supply? “I saw a lack of authentic representation in my experience in the toy industry,” explains Jovanna Rosado. “It was important for me to be integrally involved in shaping the characters' stories and bringing them to market because historically there has been a lack of diversity in the toy aisles."

"In the toy industry there is what we've coined in my company 'ambiguous multiculturalism,'" adds DeeDee Wright-Ward, founder and CEO of Purpose Toys. "There will be a toy that represents a white character, a toy that represents a black character, a brown toy with a neutral name that doesn't necessarily represent a culture, more so than just a skin tone."

We don't make toys of color, we make toys of culture. So the Latinistas, in addition to representing different skin tones and facial features and hair types and hair textures that you'll find across the Latino community, we tell a story of culture.

'A dose of cultural authenticity' for the toy industry

Purpose Toys Latin was created by DeeDee Wright-Ward and is the first toy division dedicated exclusively to Latinos in the United States. Jovanna Rosado is the head of the division. With eight years of experience, going through giants such as Mattel, American Girl and the European Haba Family Group, Rosado understood that the time had come to provide "a dose of cultural authenticity" to the industry. That's when Wright-Ward, after two years of trying to recruit Rosado, joined her in the company she founded three years ago: Purpose Toys, a company that helps entrepreneurs create and sell toys with a purpose.

"Purpose Toys Latin is not only a pioneering division of our company, it's a pioneering division of the industry," says Wright-Ward. In that sense, she highlights that the toy industry has a lot to learn from the Hispanic community.

Images courtesy of Latinistas of Purpuse Toys founder DeeDeeWright-Ward and Purpose Toys Latin director Jovanna Rosado.

The Oscars of toys

"The product is barely able to stay on shelves," says DeeDee Wright-Ward, although she prefers not to detail figures. That is one indication of the support "Las Amigas" have received, she says. Another is private messages:

Private messages that we get, I mean, just by the hour, like just message after message of people firstly being shocked to see something on the shelves that centers our tagline, across purpose is to "Center and Celebrate Communities of Culture."

The line was also nominated by a panel of journalists, academics, retailers and gaming experts for the Toy of the Year Awards (TOTY), known as "The Oscars of Toys." The Latinistas line enter the awards in Doll of the Year category, where they shared a nomination with industry giants such as Disney, with its CreativeSoul Dolls edition, and Mattel, with, of course, its Barbie collection inspired by the Greta Gerwig film.