HarperIman dolls have taken doll making to the next level with their uniquely designed, full of personality, handmade, keepsake linen dolls. 

HarperIman focuses on dolls of color to represent and celebrate all that is beautiful about textured hair and a variety of skin tones. As we obsess over the dolls' hair, personalized outfits and accessories, we couldn’t help but wonder what it would’ve been like to grow up with a keepsake doll that resembled the women around us. The inspiration behind HarperIman dolls is clear, but getting to learn more from the mother-daughter duo, Cynthia Watkins and Kathryn Burnett, themselves left us in awe of their brand. Check out our interview below:

🙀 | @_malika_yasmin_ @harperimandolls x @ozzieolive #harperimandolls

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21Ninety: What was the inspiration behind creating HarperIman dolls?

HarperIman: We found that dolls of color are underrepresented. There aren’t many choices to choose from and the ones available do not accurately represent our different skin tones and hair textures. Our children are left playing with and trying to identify with dolls that look nothing like them and we wanted to change that.

21: The dolls seem to have their own personality, and very real ones at that, how did you come up with specific outfits, hairstyles and accessories for them?

H: We are inspired by fashion from around the world. We make dolls that we wish we had growing up. Making dolls allows us to create more diverse and realistic representations of children of color. It’s always fun to play dress up, but it is more fun when the dolls are relatable.


Ren 🌿 #harperimandolls

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21: What is it like working with each other, as a mother-daughter duo, in a business setting?

H: We are fortunate in that we have always been close and respect each other’s ideas and opinions. We have a common goal and we want each other to win both in our business and in general. We hang out a lot anyway, so working together towards something we’re both passionate about is the perfect partnership.

21: How are custom dolls made?

H: Between the two of us, we make each doll by hand. Ordering a custom doll is pretty easy process — customers can choose between four shades of linen, size of the doll: 16-18" or XL 20-22", eye shape, hair texture, color, hairstyle and desired outfit. The customer can also send a picture of the clothing they would like for us replicate in doll form. Once the order is confirmed, we begin the building the doll. 


♡ #harperimandolls

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21: Do you see yourself making dolls for little boys as well? 

H: Boys dolls are on the HarperIman roadmap and they should be on our website very soon.

21: Which of the dolls is your best seller and why do you think that is?

H: We can’t help ourselves when it comes to creating new dolls, they’re just so much fun to make! Currently Aqueelah and Sky are our best sellers. They are very trendy and right now. Both are beautiful dolls, although we may be biased because we literally fall in love with them all, so it is hard to say.


👧🏽👧🏽📦 #harperimandolls

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21: What change do you hope to see your company create within children and adults alike?

H: We create dolls with a purpose in mind — we want to help reinforce how beautiful our children are by providing them with positive affirmations of themselves that they can identify with.

21: What legacy do you hope to see HarperIman leave behind?

H: We hope to promote positive self-image in children. Representation matters and it’s imperative that children have relatable dolls to identify with. We shouldn’t be left to identify with dolls that do not share our same skin tone or texture of hair. We’re committed to change that. Our dolls are meant for light imaginative play and we want little kids to be able to have dolls that look like them and share the same style as them — dolls that reflect who they are and who they want to be.


“Gammy” 📦🌿 #harperimandolls #customorder

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