Here we chat with Claudia from The Black Toy store online about her new book the ABC’s of HBCUs and why she has created resources and products that highlight and include children of color.
How are you doing? How would you describe your life as a mom or your life in general in just six words? I'm doing well. Six words that describe my life are blessed, busy, bountiful, purpose-driven, humbling, and joyful.
What was the best advice on motherhood you ever received? When I was nearing the end of my pregnancy with my first child, a man on the street congratulated me and asked how I was doing. I told him that I was tired of being pregnant and ready to meet my baby. He said "cherish this time. Even if you have another child, you'll never be able to repeat the beauty of this pregnancy with this child." It shocked me, not only because it was coming from a man I'd never met before, but because it was absolutely true. I try to apply this same spirit of gratitude into my daily time with each of my children.
What are some things you and your family are doing to manage during Covid 19? We're really enjoying spending time together. Of course we want things to return to "normal," but as a family of five, pre-COVID, we were constantly on the go and managing schedules was hard. It feels nice to be able to slow down and focus on what's most important.
Let’s change the subject to something lighter and fun. What was your favorite toy as a child and why? I was completely obsessed with Cabbage Patch Kids. They were all the rage in the late 80s and hard to get. They were adorable and came with their very own birth certificates. At the time, I was an only child, so I really bought into the idea of adopting babies - at the height of my collection, I had nine dolls.
If you were a kid now, what would your favorite toy be? Great question! I'd definitely be into Zoe - the Healthy Roots Doll. She's the first doll that teaches coily textured girls how to style and care for their hair. As a child, I used to love styling my dolls hair, but they always had that big bald spot in the middle.:-)
Do you think it is important for kids to see themselves in their toys,books, media, etc? How important is diversity and inclusion in your eyes? Absolutely. We know that play is an important part of social development. It shapes the way they see the world. If they don't see themselves (or people who look like them) reflected in toys, books, and other forms of media, then it suggests to them that they aren't valued.
We see that you created The Black Toy Store. Tell us more about your amazing website and what you do. What made you start it? How long have you been operating? As a mom of three, I grew frustrated with the lack of diversity in the toy industry. Thanks to the internet, I started finding unique toys, games, and books that highlighted Black children, but weren't readily available from mainstream retailers. I realized that the products existed, but they weren't aggregated in a central location. So in January of 2019, I came up with the idea for the Black Toy Store and officially launched the site in March.
We also see you created your own children’s book. Tell us more about the ABC’s of HBCUs? What was the inspiration behind creating the book? Where can we find more information about your book? When will it be available for purchase? I'm an alumna of Spelman College and my four years at Spelman and in the greater Atlanta University Center were transformative. I now live in California, so apart from my stories about college life, my children aren't really exposed to HBCUs the way they'd be if we lived in the south. So I decided to write a book to teach them and other children about the incredible legacies of HBCUs. The book is currently available for purchase at www.hbcuprepschool.com
What advice do you have for writers and entrepreneurs? You have two brands. How do you manage it all? Your gift will make way for you. It might be intimidating, but if you have a story or an idea that won't let you sleep, then figure out how to bring it to life. Do your research. Ask the right questions. Network. If you can't find someone to mentor you, you can probably find some of the answers to your questions on Youtube.
How can we find you online? What is your website, social media links, etc? Please share.