BROCKTON — Widline Pyrame didn't see many black dolls when she was a child and later when she wanted to buy them for her nieces.
As a social worker, she recognized the importance of children having dolls that look like them to learn about self-love and acceptance. So Pyrame decided to create her own.
“I’m really on a mission to change the world one doll at a time," said Pyrame, who is Haitian and moved to America as a teenager.
She is the owner of Fusion Dolls, which brings diversity to the toy market with a collection of Black dolls with varying skin tones and curly hair.
Her original doll is Angel, a girl who shares Pyrame's middle name, and whose hair can be brushed, washed and fashioned into black hairstyles like twists.
Fusion Dolls also sells three baby dolls — Adelaida, Kinara and Malaika — with brown and Black skin tones and curly hair.
Each doll has its own story, traits and interests. Angel likes to try new things. Adelaida enjoys the outdoors. Kinara is described as a social butterfly. Malaika is motivated to fight for equality and social justice.
The dolls Pyrame sells are a step from the Black Barbie she shared with her sister. She remembers perming her hair without telling her mother to match her Barbie's straight hair.
Pyrame has since learned to like her hair and other features she felt insecure about.
“We need to grow positivity about us," she said. "If we’re not doing it, who’s going to do it?”
Customers are happy to find her Black and bi-racial dolls that look like the children in their lives, Pyrame said.
Children also react positively to them. Pyrame said a girl saw her Fusion Dolls table at a market and asked her grandmother if she could have all of the dolls for sale.
With the Black Lives Matter movement, she has noticed interest in her dolls from parents wanting their children to know more about diversity.
Being a social worker has shaped her mission to promote self love and diversity through her dolls, Pyrame said.
She remembered taking a diversity and inclusion class at Wheelock College while pursuing her social work degree. The class mentioned an experiment called “doll tests” in the 1940s in which children were given a white and Black doll and asked which one was good and bad and which doll looked most like them.
Pyrame would eventually like to hire people to work for Fusion Dolls full time. For now, she’s running most of the business on her own.
Fusion Dolls plans to sell doll accessories like hair brushes and strollers. There will also be new clothes, like nurses outfits.
She is working with an illustrator to make a Fusion Dolls book called “Angel’s Hair Journey” about the business. The goal is to have that ready for Christmas
Eventually she would like to offer Angel, the girl doll, in different skin tones and have books available about each doll's story, Pyrame said.
"Believe in whatever you're doing and let people know what you're doing," she said.