The Cackle: Episode #48
Badass Business Strategies for Bold Entrepreneurs
SPECIAL GUEST: Yelitsa Jean-Charles, Founder and CEO, Healthy Roots Dolls
AIRED ON: Wednesday, February 24th on Facebook Live or Twitter at 10:30 am EST
Yelitsa Jean-Charles, Founder and CEO of Healthy Roots Dolls, joins The Cackle to badass business strategies for bold entrepreneurs.
Yelitsa Jean-Charles never had a doll that looked like her growing up. The one time her parents gave her a Black doll, she burst into tears because it wasn’t the “pretty one”. Since then, Yelitsa has made it her goal to make sure that no other children feel the way she did about her own appearance growing up.
The CEO and founder of Healthy Roots Dolls wanted young girls of color to see themselves reflected in toys. She was first convinced by her peers’ response when she reimagined the classic, long-haired fairy tale character as brown, with “kinky, curly hair,” in a 3D illustrations class at the Rhode Island School of Design.
Yelitsa, who was born in Canada and grew up in New York, first fleshed out her business idea and acquired mentors in the Brown University Social Innovation Fellowship while in college. She took the $4,000 grant and turned it into $50,000 with a Kickstarter campaign. She also worked as a research assistant and hall monitor during her senior year and graduated with a degree in illustration in 2016.
Yelitsa became a Venture for America fellow for the start-up sector experience. She then produced the first Zoe doll in 2018. A separate Venture for America accelerator program led Jean-Charles to Detroit, where she then took part in another accelerator, Backstage Capital’s, and won $125,000 in two grants through the Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day contest in 2019.
Since founding Healthy Roots Dolls in 2015, Jean-Charles has raised $1 million in seed funding to expand her line of products, which also includes educational storybooks.
About The Cackle
Each week on The Cackle, we highlight small businesses, startups, and people who have an impact on communities across the Midwest. We explore a wide range of topics relating to the vibrancy of local economies, including: entrepreneurial journeys, economic trends found in our research, the challenges facing small businesses and startups face, and the importance of building a diverse and inclusive community.