Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Interview With Stacey McBride-Irby

Stacey McBride-Irby is a designer/intrapreneur at Mattel. Recently, she received rave reviews from the national media for creating their new "So In Style" line - a new line of black Barbie dolls with fuller lips, a wider nose and more pronounced cheek bones.

The hype is mostly based on the fact that the dolls accurately reflect how African American women look, compared to the original "Christie" doll that Mattel debuted in the 1960s that was "essentially a white doll painted brown".

Stacey, who is very down-to-earth, and obviously very intellectual and entrepreneurial was kind enough to grant me the following interview:

Dante: Thanks for making yourself available Stacey. Tell me - What's your background, and how did you get a deal with Mattel?

Stacey: I have a background in fashion design. I started out designing clothes for little girls, assisted adult line clothing designers, then was blessed with the opportunity to be a design assistant at Mattel. I’ve been designing Barbie dolls for over 12 years now.

Dante: How does your new dolls differ from previous African American dolls sold by Mattel?

Stacey: My dolls are different because they give parents and girls a variety of skin tones and facial features to choose from within an African American fashion doll. The dolls also have features that little girls can relate to while playing and dreaming up stories. We’ve also added a positive message behind the dolls. For instance, the big dolls are teenagers and after school they mentor their little sisters. I hope that this message will inspire girls to aspire to be role models to their little sisters or girls in their community.

Dante: You refer to yourself as an "intrepreneur". What does that mean?

Stacey: Yes, I am considered an intrepreneur - which is basically a person who develops a new business in the context of a large organization. So, I created a passion project within Mattel’s larger organization. While designing the Barbie and Pets, and Barbie “I Can Be” Career dolls - I embarked on the creation of the "So In Style" line in the summer of 2007.

Dante: Will your dolls be sold worldwide?

Stacey: Yes, the dolls will be sold at Walmart, Target, Toys R Us, and their online stores. They're also available on and Other countries that are interested in "So In Style" include Brazil, Italy, and Canada.

Dante: We all know that millions of dolls are sold annually, and you certainly stand to make a lot of money from your designs. What advice do you have for entrepreneurs with innovative products looking to partner with a major distributor like you did?

Stacey: Fortunately, I’ve had the opportunity to design for a great company (Mattel) and brand (Barbie). Two years ago, I presented the "So In Style" concept to upper management and they saw my passion and believed in it. If there is something that you are passionate about - work for it, fight for it, and don’t give up on your dream. I am a witness that dreams don’t happen over night, but do come true.

Dante: Thanks for the interview! You're very inspirational, and hopefully many will learn from your fine example of passion, patience, and persistence.

For more info, follow Stacey on Twitter at @StaceyMcIrby


  1. 1. As a child, I recall the first Christie doll, and she looked Black to me. Perhaps you are thinking about "Colored Francie," who was a White doll done in brown vinyl. Christie's nose and mouth area protruded more than the White dolls in the Barbie line did. Her hair style was a short curled bob - like that of many Black women then. She may not have been as fine tuned as Mattel's more recent dolls, but she was as Black then as the contemporary White dolls were White.

    2. Mattel produced a black doll line, Shani, in 1991 where there were three African American dolls with THREE different face molds and different complexions.

    The So in Style dolls are lovely ethnic dolls. I don't understand why promoting them calls for denigration of the dolls that preceeded them.

  2. Hi! I see that you interviewed Stacey McBride-Irby. I have been trying to get her on my talk show. I would love to talk to you. Please email me


    Denise Y. Mose