Today, American Girl, a cornerstone of Mattel’s focused brand portfolio (NASDAQ: MAT), kicks off its 35th yearanniversary with the reintroduction of her original historical figures – Samantha Parkington, Kirsten Larson, Molly McIntire, Felicity Merriman, Addy Walker and Josefina Montoya.
Since 1986, the beloved brand known for helping girls grow with confidence and character has created engaging heroines who have transported millions of girls back in time – from 1774 to 1944 – through books and stories that teach courage and compassion, trust and resilience. These same characters are about to inspire a new generation to make a positive mark on the world.
“For 35 years, American Girl has created powerful stories with smart and courageous heroines who have helped shape an entire generation of women,” said Jamie Cygielman, CEO of American Girl. “As we celebrate this milestone, we are thrilled to recognize the very first generation of American girls who grew up with these quirky and adored characters and made them the phenomenon they are today. Knowing that many of these women are now mothers themselves, we look forward to creating special, multigenerational experiences for families through their shared love of the brand. We look forward to inspiring and empowering this next generation with even more relevant products, immersive experiences and timeless stories. “
How American Girl Evolved
Founded by Pleasant Rowland, a retired teacher and writer, American Girl began as a catalog company only. Over the years, the company has grown to create retail stores with cafes, magazines and a well-known global brand. However, Cygielman is quick to point out that this incredible growth did not happen overnight.
“Our first store in Chicago opened in 1998, and we established our New York flagship five years later,” Cygielman said. “We’ve taken our time to make sure we have a great retail experience and maintain all of those qualities that make our brand memorable and unique. We currently have 12 retail stores in major US markets, where girls and their families can immerse themselves in the total GA experience. “
She also recognized that while traditional print is still an essential part of helping children learn, they also translate their popular series on digital platforms, like YouTube, where these characters come to life in animations, music videos, etc.
When asked how much of Rowland’s original vision was today and what had changed, Cygielman replied, “When Pleasant started the business 35 years ago, she celebrated the childhood of ‘in a way that had never been done before. Today, as the world has definitely changed since 1986, we remain guided by Pleasant’s original vision. We’re deeply committed to inspiring and empowering this next generation of girls with great products, immersive experiences, and timeless stories featuring smart, strong, and comparable heroines. “
This includes placing even more emphasis on the multicultural and multidimensional nature of America today. Some of these initiatives have already been launched this year, such as their Conversations for change series, designed to amplify and celebrate more diverse voices.
“For American Girl, the company was born out of a place of true passion and, above all, purpose. He was mission driven from the start – doing good things for girls – and that hasn’t changed, ”Cygielman added. “We are proud to have a strong push in the lives of girls today – from what they love to do, where they spend their time and how we can support and encourage them throughout their childhood. . We also know that we have a vital role to play in teaching girls complex subjects as our world changes.
Last year, American Girl focused particularly on racial equality, including their monthly talk series to amplify their various dolls and stories. They also put more energy and focus in their creative development process on the multiculturalism and multidimensionality of today’s girls.
In June, American Girl plans to add a new advice book to their Smart Girl Guide series to help girls resist racism and build a better world. And in the fall, they are launching diverse new characters in their contemporary line and unveiling several exciting partnerships to help celebrate the past and reinvent our future.
Encourage girls now more than ever
According to UNESCO, Covid-19 has forced 743 million girls out of school in 185 countries. A corresponding increase in poverty, household responsibilities, child labor and teenage pregnancies can prevent many girls from returning to complete their education. It seems that, more than ever, shedding light on girls is vital to their future, and American Girl is hoping to do just that.
“When the pandemic struck, we quickly launched a free content center for families with digital resources, activities and books to help children (and their parents) during such a difficult time,” Cygielman said. “We also made all of our various books free to download from our online library, as well as guides for teachers and readers, and we donated $ 500,000 in these and other titles to schools and communities. libraries across the country. ”
The plan is to continue this platform until 2022 to continue amplifying voices. This includes a young girl who founded Earth Uprising, an organization providing funds to support their new climate change program coming up this fall.
The future of the American girl
With her roots in children’s publishing, American Girl has long championed the belief that strong readers become strong leaders. This summer, to further support children’s literacy and ensure access to quality materials to help children grow as readers, American Girl is partnering with the US literacy program Save the Children’s with a donation of over $ 100,000 in American Girl pounds. This donation brings the brand’s total commitment to over $ 9 million in pounds and funds for the organization.
American Girl has several other exciting events and partnerships lined up this summer and fall to further celebrate the brand’s rich heritage and reinvent its future. Visit their website for details on upcoming birthday-themed product releases, must-see virtual events, and additional 35th anniversary activities happening throughout the year.