Guyanese-born businessman creates dolls that reflect a multi-ethnic world
Noticing the obvious lack of dolls with various ethnic backgrounds in a market filled with blond-haired blue-eyed dolls at the time, U.S.-based Guyanese Percy Newsum embarked on a mission to provide a product that would exceed the expectations for the price, keeping in mind that its major role would be to give parents access to a product that would help build self-esteem in their children.
Dolls from the Spring 2012 Dynamite Girls Collection
Newsum was born and grew up in New Amsterdam. He attended Berbice High School, class of 1974. He worked at Guymine and was a general foreman until he left in 1988 for the U.S. In the U.S., he attended business school and upon graduating was sent to work for a toy company on a temporary basis. The company offered him a permanent job after he worked for six weeks with them. It was there he learnt the doll business.
In an interview with Guyana Times Sunday Magazine, Newsum said he was the vice president of operations for the toy company and spent six months in Hong Kong coordinating the factory operations and shipments. In 1995, the company experienced financial stress and decided to relocate and he decided it was time to leave.
“I did not plan on starting my own company then, but after not getting the deal promised, I did what I knew best, and in July 1995 started my own business, Integrity Toys. Always reaching for the next level, Integrity Toys designs, produces, and markets a variety of dolls and related accessories, with a specialization in high-end fashion dolls. Integrity Toys’ extensive experience and capabilities in the field of doll-making allows us to create products and programmes for many of the world’s best-known retailers, consumer products companies, celebrities and other intellectual property holders,” he explained
Newsum recalled that America in 1995 was not what it is today. Dolls of colour were not readily available, and if you found them, they never had the physical features of what they represented. So when Newsum started his company, he produced dolls that had features that were “ethnically correct” and the dolls soon became a hit with parents and children.
Now, many major doll manufacturers have since realized the value of the ethnic toy market, and have also started to offer more culturally diverse dolls in their lines.
Integrity Toys currently produces high-end fashion dolls ranging in size from about 12 inches to 16 inches tall, under a number of brands, including Fashion Royalty, the Dynamite Girls, Poppy Parker and the Brides of Dracula, among others. The company’s products typically retail from US$50 to US$175 each, with most of the products retailing in the US$90-150 range. Its products are known for their superior engineering, high-end aesthetics and fashionable, detailed clothing.
“My inspiration comes from my wife and four daughters. Over the years numerous collections have been created. There are several collections in various brands like Fashion Royalty, Dynamite Girls, Poppy Parker, NuFace, NuFantasy, FR Monogram, and Tulabelle to name a few. It’s hard to name a favourite as they have become like my children, but I am bias to the Fashion Royalty 1:6 scale dolls. The dolls’ designing is done by a team of very talented designers who work for my company only. I also have Jason Wu as our creative director, who oversees all of the designs. Jason began working with me since 2002 and is now well-known for his own high-end fashion clothing designs and accessories. He is also the designer who designed both of Michelle Obama’s inaugural gowns,” Newsum disclosed.
The dolls are also famous worldwide. They are shipped regularly in the USA or to Canada, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Germany and France.
“My future for the company is that we will continue to be the one that leads in the ever evolving world of fashion dolls. We have defined ourselves as leaders and not followers. I will be looking to create new concepts, and I will also look at doing more licensed products to help with the growth and expansion of the company,” he declared.
Visit Integrity Toys on Facebook to view the many doll collections by Percy Newsum’s company.