Most Dolls Didn’t Look Like Her Kids, So This Mom Started Her Own Company

“I was determined to give my kids dolls that looked like them so they could learn to love who they are and be proud of their roots.”
save article
profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
By Stephanie Grassullo, Contributing Writer
Published March 4, 2019
mom boss ozi okaro makes diverse dolls with textured hair
Image: Ozi Okaro

The Bump presents #MomBoss, a series dedicated to showing off all-star moms. We catch up with mompreneurs behind products we love, influencers who get real about motherhood and SAHMs who can multitask in their sleep.

Growing up, Ozi Okaro had a seriously warped perception of beauty, and it all stemmed from the dolls she played with. As an adorable black girl, her playtime pals looked nothing like her. When she became a mother, she refused to let her kids’ self-esteem suffer the same blow.

So she decided to launch Ikuzi Dolls—her very own doll company. The collection features beautifully crafted dolls available in different shades of brown skin tones and hair textures. Learn more about the brand below, and how Okaro balances a constantly-evolving company while raising four kids.

Image: Ikuzi Dolls

What makes Ikuzi Dolls different from others on the market?

Ikuzi Dolls are dolls of color that are available in a range of brown skin tones, hair textures and styles. There’s a very small selection of black dolls in the current marketplace, and kids of color usually have to settle for whatever they find in stores. More often than not, it’s a doll that doesn’t look like them. Ikuzi Dolls wants to change that. Our mission is to provide dolls for kids of color to relate to and identify with.

How did motherhood inspire you to launch the brand?

Being a mother of four, two of which are girls, had everything to do with my decision to start Ikuzi Dolls. Growing up, I loved dolls but only had one black doll—and I didn’t think she was very pretty! Positive role play in the early years is critical to building self-esteem, self-love and self-pride, and my dolls had a big impact on my perception of beauty. As a mother, I was determined to give my kids dolls that looked like them so they could learn to love who they are and be proud of their roots.

Related Video

Any plans to add more dolls inspired by other races?

Over the years, Ikuzi Dolls has grown organically, and we’ve added dolls based on customer demand. In 2015, we launched with just two dolls, and now we have 11 total with plans for two or three new dolls to launch this year. Right now, we’re focused on dolls of color, but that could change, especially if our customers request other races. If there is a true need for it, we’ll make sure it makes sense for us, our brand identity and our customers.

Image: Ikuzi Dolls

How did becoming a mom prepare you for a business?

A big part of being a mother is multitasking and decision-making. Parents make decisions that feel right, and then pray they work out. If it doesn’t, you reassess, realign and maybe even change direction. The same concepts are essentially needed to run a businesses.

How do you manage it all?

My family is my top priority. It’s funny, but at this stage, I run my business to revolve around my kids’ schedules. It’s not a typical 9 to 5 job—I work all hours of the day and night, depending on what needs to get done when.

Has your parenting style changed over the years?

It hasn’t changed too much, but I definitely believe I’m more relaxed. By the time I had my fourth child, I had a lot of practice! My kids are also all very different, so I try to match my parenting style with their individual needs.

What advice do you have for new moms?

Always go with your instincts. A rule of thumb for me is if I’m not okay with something, my child probably isn’t okay with it either.

What’s one product that made parenting easier?

One of the most useful items I used for my kids were these waterproof, washable and quick-drying mealtime bibs. Each had a little pocket for catching food and could be easily hand-washed and dried before the next meal.

Any epic #MomFails?

Yes, of course. I’m not perfect! From mixing up the lunches to almost losing one kid at Disney World…In my defense, Grandma was supposed to be watching them!

What about a guilty mom pleasure?

Two words: Rum cake.

Published March 2019

save article

Next on Your Reading List

mom kissing baby at home
Tips for Planning Your Return to Work After Parental Leave
Fact Checked by G. O’Hara
mother working on laptop while holding baby
These Are the Best States for Working Moms in 2024
By Wyndi Kappes
erin andrews and her baby for enfamil campaign
Erin Andrews on Squashing Mom Guilt and Navigating Life With Baby
By Wyndi Kappes
mother kissing baby before leaving for work
These States Provide the Best Work-Life Balance
By Wyndi Kappes
woman working at desk
Study: Providing Parents With Support Makes Businesses More Profitable
By Wyndi Kappes
Victoria Monét and two-year-old daughter Hazel Monét Gaines celebrate their Grammy nominations by indulging in Jimmy John’s Red Velvet Cookies while preparing for the awards show on February 04, 2024 in Los Angeles, California
Victoria Monét and Daughter—The Grammy’s Youngest Nominee—Make History
By Wyndi Kappes
allison holker and family
Allison Holker Boss on Dancing, Resilience and Finding Her New Normal
By Nehal Aggarwal
mom sitting at table at home thinking and pondering
I Was an Accidental SAHM—and I’m Done Feeling Guilty About It
By Kristen Bringe
Kristin Davis at the New York Pemiere of "And Just Like That..." A New Chapter of Sex and The City held at MoMA on December 8, 2021 in New York City
Why Moms Are Loving Charlotte's ‘and Just Like That’ Monologue
By Wyndi Kappes
78 Percent of Moms Are Overwhelmed by Pumping at Work
78 Percent of Moms Are Overwhelmed by Pumping at Work
By Wyndi Kappes
mother holding sleeping baby at home
Caregiving Reduces Mom's Lifetime Earnings by 15 Percent, Report Says
By Wyndi Kappes
working mother sitting at home with baby and breast pump
What the PUMP Act Means for Working Parents
By Wyndi Kappes
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hugs his daughter Poppy on the ninth hole during the Par 3 Contest prior to the 2023 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2023, in Augusta, Georgia
Kids Take the Masters by Storm Dressed as Adorable Caddies
By Wyndi Kappes
mother wearing baby in wrap while working on laptop at home
Study: Parents Work Longer Hours Than Non-Parents Amid Recession Fears
By Wyndi Kappes
P!nk attends the 2022 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 20, 2022 in Los Angeles, California
Balancing Acts: Pink Shares Her Journey as a Rockstar Mom
By Wyndi Kappes
Sanya Richards Ross and family
Olympian Sanya Richards-Ross on Motherhood and Finding Balance
By Nehal Aggarwal
Reps. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., Andy Kim, D-N.J., left, and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., conduct a news conference to announce the Congressional Dads Caucus outside the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, January 26, 2023
Congress’ New Dads Caucus Advocates for Working Parents
By Wyndi Kappes
Shonda Rhimes attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 09, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California.
Shonda Rhimes Shares the Secret Behind How She Does It All
By Wyndi Kappes
MommiNation founders talking at fundraiser event
How MommiNation Is Helping to Empower a Community of Black Moms
By Jen Hayes Lee
Rihanna is seen outside the Dior show, during Paris Fashion Week - Womenswear F/W 2022-2023, on March 01, 2022 in Paris, France
Rihanna Says Being a Mom Pushed Her to Perform at the Super Bowl
By Wyndi Kappes
Article removed.
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List