In 1979 my first child, Jamila, brought the inspiration to create Brown Spice Dolls. A partnership with my mother, Ann Dickerson, and a wonderful silent partner, Roz Watkins began a wonderful legacy of Brown Spice Dolls and Dudes. The concept was that “If ice cream comes in 31 flavors, Black Folks come in 31 million.” Our quest was to reproduce as many of those individuals as we could. Thus, we began creating a very diverse collection of dolls which reflected the African Diaspora.
We delved into many spin-offs including a coloring book, cut outs, a newsletter, pillows, clothes, bags, and more. The height of the spin-offs came when renowned photographer Roland Freeman approached us to create doll quilts. He partnered us with his traditional quilt makers and created an amazing collection of work. Some documented in his book, Communion with the Spirits.
The culmination of the experience came every year in a “Family Reunion” in which the collectors would bring their dolls home for a lively celebration and the creation of a family album. The dolls lead to doll classes and the classes lead to workshops. Eventually the workshops lead to The Young Masters, Inc. a program which continues today.