Empowering Children through Play: The Story Behind World of EPI's Wakanda-Inspired Dolls
Each World of EPI doll is a one-of-a-kind piece of art with unique facial features, custom blended skin tones, and a variety of hair textures reflective of ethnicities around the world.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re proud to continue shining a spotlight on women, Black-owned businesses, and licensees that have produced products inspired by Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. This week, we’re spotlighting World of EPI, a Black Woman-owned award-winning toy company that creates beautiful, multicultural dolls.
Each World of EPI doll is a one-of-a-kind piece of art with unique facial features, custom-blended skin tones, and a variety of hair textures reflective of ethnicities around the world. “Each doll is designed to inspire children to see their beauty, brilliance, and power reflected back to them and foster imagination during positive play,” Founder Dr. Lisa Williams explained.
Dr. Lisa was inspired to create World of EPI in 2010 after watching a study that found that children associated positive attributes with lighter skin tones and negative attributes with darker skin tones. This study ultimately changed her path. She committed herself to developing a business focused on encouraging acceptance, inclusion, and self-love among children of all ages.
“Our vision is for children to have access to dolls which encourage dreams, promote intelligence, challenge perceptions, and open their hearts to all types of beauty.” –Dr. Lisa
Ahead of the film’s release, World of EPI collaborated with Marvel Studios to create a line of dolls for Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Fresh Fierce Collection. These dolls are inspired by the women of Wakanda, honoring their highly admirable qualities including: strength, power, and brilliance. This collection even features a first-of-its-kind innovative Patent-Pending dreadlock hairstyle, as seen on the Nakia doll. “We approached this collection with the same attention to detail we do for all of our dolls,” Dr. Lisa said. “We took great care to ensure each doll had striking character likeness, custom-blended skin tones, and authentic hairstyles.”
Each doll has multiple points of articulation which makes it easy to recreate warrior poses and action shots while utilizing their respective weapons and props. After this collection debuted in 2022, it won the Toy Foundation’s Toy of The Year award for “Doll of the Year,” a testament to World of EPI’s innovation and thorough detailing.
Designing and producing this collection was both challenging and rewarding for World of EPI. Dr. Lisa and her team worked hard to curate a delicate balance between character authenticity, including highly articulated poses and intricate costumes, and true-to-life natural hairstyles and locs. “It’s so rewarding to contribute to changing the lives of children so they see they are unique, amazing, and can be and do anything their heart's desire,” Dr. Lisa said. “Nothing is more gratifying than seeing a child with one of our dolls saying, “This doll looks just like me.’”
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