Women to Watch: Yelitsa


“I never had a doll that looked like me growing up. The one time my parents gave me a black doll, I burst into tears because it wasn’t the “pretty one”. Since then, i have made it my goal to make sure that no other children feel the way i did growing up.” 

While in her junior year studying illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design, Yelitsa redesigned the fairy tale character Rapunzel as a brown girl with beautiful kinky hair. After speaking with classmates and friends, she saw the opportunity to address the demonstrated need for more diverse toys and representation in children’s publishing.

With a grant from the Brown University Social Innovation Fellowship, support from the RISD E’Ship Program, Masschallenge Accelerator program and 674 dedicated Kickstarter backers, Healthy Roots Dolls was born. Since starting Healthy Roots Dolls, Yelitsa has graduated from RISD with a BFA in Illustration and a concentration in Gender, Race & Sexuality. In 2018 she won the Startup Stampede, New Voices Fund Pitch competition, participated in the VFA Accelerator program and was awarded the first Main Street Ventures Wendy S. Lea Female founders Grant. In 2019, she was accepted to the Backstage Accelerator program in Detroit with an investment of $100,000. Most recently won People’s Choice and First Place at the 2019 Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day for a total winning of $125,000 and as of 2019 have raised nearly $500,000 total.

”I am a mission to make sure no one feels less than because of the kink of their curl or the color of their skin. I want to make sure all girls love their healthy roots.”

Healthy Roots Dolls is a toy company that creates dolls and storybooks that empower young girls and represents the beauty of our diversity.

65% of the world’s population has curly/wavy hair. In 2016, Dove conducted a study and found that only 4 out of 10 girls love their curls. Toys impact how we think, act, and perceive ourselves. So when girls can’t find dolls that look like  them, it negatively impacts their self esteem.

That’s why Yelitsa created Zoe, the first Healthy Roots dolls.

Because while there are black dolls, it goes beyond just painting a doll brown. Zoe is an educational play experience with curl care. 

Healthy Roots Dolls have a medley of facial features, skin tones, and hair textures that can be styled in countless ways. Our dolls have multiple interests and aspirations which exposes young girls to their own unlimited career potential. Our goal is to represent the voices of young girls in the toy industry with products that empower, educate and inspire self love.

You can visit the website: https://healthyrootsdolls.com/ to order your own happy doll :)

Cheers to solution-oriented women and to empowering our girls. 


P.S. Would you like to be featured in our Women to Watch series, or do you know a woman who would like to be featured? Email me: yansi@tux-couture.com

Our mission is to channel the confidence of women, making a worldwide power-shift, one tux at a time. We redefine what it means to wear the pants.