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Lisa McKnight, senior Vice President and head of doll production at Mattel, is responsible for transforming the Barbie brand

Photo Mattel

For more than 60 years, Barbie dolls have been inspiring and motivating generations of girls and contributing to their empowerment

During this time, the dolls have mastered more than 200 professions and have changed a lot. Manufacturer Barbie supported the new trends and began to produce dolls with different skin colors and more realistic proportions. In addition, an inclusive line of Barbie dolls in wheelchairs and with prosthetics was launched. For a long time, there have been debates in society about the physique of the Barbie doll and the image that it transmits to girls. Nevertheless, the manufacturer of the legendary dolls managed to overcome all obstacles and change the concept of the brand. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Lisa Mcknightdimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Lisa McKnight, senior Vice President and head of doll production at Mattel, is responsible for transforming the Barbie brand. "A new exciting Chapter has begun in the history of Barbie dolls," explains the top Manager. "About 5-6 years ago, we realized that we had lost our footing. Of course, our dolls still attracted girls. At the same time, Barbie dolls were removed from modern culture and no longer liked by parents. After all, parents have also changed over time. They have become more interested in brands that support their values. Barbie dolls had a whole history behind them. Our brand could also tell an incredible story about women's empowerment, but for some reason we didn't. We were really inspired by the story of Barbie doll Creator Ruth Handler. We looked into our past to get inspiration for our future," says McKnight.


McKnight and her team realized that Barbie dolls were originally created with the goal of empowering girls. In the late 1950s, the Creator of Barbie dolls, Ruth Handler, set herself a very progressive task at that time. She wanted girls to have as much choice as boys. It was not just about toys, but also the ability to choose your own path in adulthood. Ruth Handler understood that the girls were limited in this choice. That's why she created Barbie dolls. "We knew we could bet on empowering girls," McKnight says.

To transform the Barbie brand, the McKnight team needed to change the company's position on three important issues. First, the Barbie brand had to focus on empowering girls and young girls. Secondly, the brand had to provide production of Barbie dolls that could really inspire girls. To achieve this goal, McKnight and her team developed a line of dolls that learn new professions. "A few years ago, we also launched a line called Inspiring Women Line and started producing dolls in the images of great women who did truly amazing things," McKnight recalls with a smile. This line featured artist Frida Kahlo, NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, and tennis player Billie Jean king. The brand chose a variety of women, some of whom were more famous than others. Nevertheless, the life of each of them was full of incredible stories. At the same time, all of them were able to break down stereotypes and achieve success in their business. Third, with the transformation of the Barbie brand, the McKnight team has begun to pay more attention to cultural diversity and inclusiveness.


"We believe that Barbie dolls should reflect what girls see around them on a daily basis. This is very important. The new doll lines will show girls that there are different ideas about beauty in the world," says Mattel's senior Vice President. "There is no single standard of beauty. The more diverse our dolls are, the better. After all, this way girls and children in General will be able to identify with them. Over the past five years, we have purposefully created lines of dolls with different skin tones, proportions, hairstyles, hair structure and eye color so that they can more accurately reflect the real world. Potential buyers like this. Over the past few years, we have developed more than 170 dolls. Last year, more than 50% of the dolls sold were from a new line dedicated to cultural diversity, " adds McKnight.

"There is no single standard of beauty. The more diverse our dolls are, the better. After all this way girls and children in General will be able to identify themselves with them>>

Before joining Mattel, McKnight worked in advertising. For example, she worked for a long time in the marketing Department of the Gap Global, Gap Kids and Baby Gap brands. "I liked the creative energy and the creative process of working, but I felt that I lacked engagement," explains the top Manager. "I wanted to be more interested in developing the brands I worked with. I felt that I could give 120% or even 150% if I understood that the development of the brand and the entire business depends directly on me. So I found it very tempting to move to a huge Corporation where I would manage the development of the brand and be responsible for all my decisions," recalls McKnight.

She started her career at Mattel as a senior Manager and helped the Director of consumer products. In 20 years of working for a toy company, she moved from Department to Department 6 times. McKnight is currently a senior Vice President at Mattel. "I had several career paths in one career. Sometimes I took the initiative and took a certain job. In other cases, I was appointed to a particular position. Perhaps some of the tasks that I was assigned were not as interesting, but you know, again, when you get out of your comfort zone, you then always appreciate the experience and knowledge that you received," McKnight believes.

When transforming the Barbie brand and building your career McKnight pays special attention to the following important steps:

* Trust your intuition. You don't need to think too long, but you don't need to make a big decision in a split second. Just ask yourself if you are happy with this decision. Do you feel calm?

* Make sure that you are not distracted by other things. Focus on the long-term goal. Your foresight will help you achieve it.

* Find people who can give you advice. Talk to your mentors and mentors. Listen to several points of view before making a decision.

"I often reflect on how lucky I am to be able to work on developing an important brand that brings so much joy to children and families around the world. Today, we must do work that is of great importance to society. That's what really inspires me. Barbie dolls have always been great toys for children and a source of inspiration, but today we have the opportunity to really change society for the better, " McKnight emphasizes.

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