Chrishonda Benson has collaborated with her 9-year-old daughter Mariah to form a unique collection of back-to-school items with Black representation at the forefront. Created through their company Pretty Dope Society, their mission is “to fill the representation void in the retail world with items that look, feel, and inspire us, our kids, communities, and our culture.”
The latest back-to-school collection features pencil pouches, lunch boxes, and even personalized backpacks with designs ranging from Black boys as superheroes and Black girls as unicorns. Encouraging phrases such as “I can be anything!” “Believe in yourself,” and “It’s cool to be smart” are displayed on the bags, giving children a burst of self-love and confidence as they enter the new school year.
Pretty Dope Society was born after Benson’s daughter said at the age of four that she disliked her brown skin because the “peach” dolls had more accessories than the brown dolls. “Over the years, I made it a point to find and buy items that featured black characters and images,” said Benson. “The one thing that I consistently noticed was that I could not just casually walk into a retail store and see products that looked like me or my daughter, unless it was a part of a Black History Month collection.”
This is why Benson and her daughter are committed to creating products year-round that are inclusive. “Far too often, Black families are left out of the narrative in the designs geared toward children. When you walk into many big department stores around the back-to-school season, it’s rare for Black children to see themselves portrayed in the product designs,” Benson said in an interview with BlackNews.
Mariah helps her mother create these products, offering her own beneficial sense of awareness regarding what would appeal to children in her demographic. To learn more about the collection and purchase your back-to-school items, visit Pretty Dope Society.