Guess what toy makers? Girls love adventure!

Katie Nielsen is a young entrepreneur who loved adventure as a kid. Looking at the toy market today, Nielsen sees sharp gender segregation that encourages action-oriented play for boys and fashion-oriented play for girls. Frustrated by this stereotyping, she’s founded Ember World, a toy company to create a brand new category of empowering toys for girls: adventure dolls.

I’ve gotten to know Katie over the past couple weeks, and I love her understanding of girl culture and the need for messages and products just like Ember World. I cannot wait to buy her entire line for my own adventurous daughter. (I think my son would like them, too!) I really love this quote from Katie, “I want to offer girls a doll that lets them play as their most confident and imaginative selves! So many young girls are enthralled with adventure, and love to imagine themselves as the heroes of their own stories. Now these girls can play with a doll that will encourage that adventurous spirit.”

I invited Katie to share her story with the PPBB Community. Enjoy it, and support her Ember World Indiegogo campaign so that we can continue to make meaningful change for our girls!


A guest post by Katie Nielsen, creator of Ember World.

Guess what toy makers? Girls love adventure!

The memories from my own childhood and the imaginations I see in young girls today are chock full of great adventures and unwavering self-confidence. Yet the play style of most girl-centered fashion dolls is all about dress-up and hairdos, while the boys get “action figures” intended for role playing that involves bravery, heroism and power. Why are young girls left out of the action when they are just as likely to see themselves as brave heroes? Why can’t girls have dolls to play out their own adventures with a female lead? The more I thought about this, the more I became convinced that I needed to do something. You know what? Forget fashion dolls – I’m making adventure dolls!

The Ember doll will come with hiking boots and a grappling hook.

The Ember doll will come with hiking boots and a grappling hook.

I designed Ember World adventure dolls to tap into a girl’s natural curiosity and wild imagination. Ember comes with hiking boots and a grappling hook, not your typical hairbrush and pink stilettos. She’s dressed to explore, push limits and make her own way.

We were careful to avoid the dangerously thin proportions of a typical fashion doll and instead we’ve made her strong and healthy looking. Her body is a tool she can use to accomplish her goals, not the center of her life.

Each of the dolls in our series will have a unique skill set they can use to overcome challenges on their adventures.  We have even created a book series to illustrate what confident, motivated girls can accomplish. We hope the girls who play with these dolls and read our stories will be able to see themselves as adventurers and dream big.

The four follow-up characters in Ember World.

The four follow-up characters in Ember World.

Adventure is beautiful. It’s about pushing boundaries and discovering new things. It’s about believing in yourself and finding your hidden courage. It’s about pressing onward. Every child should practice this a million times when they play: I want to see girls fall in love with adventure. I say it’s important to reinforce to girls that they are allowed to be curious, that it’s good to be brave, and that they also belong at the center of great adventures.

To me, this is not just a doll, it’s a whole new category of toys for girls.


Ember Adventure doll vs Fashion Doll

Ember Adventure doll vs Fashion Doll

My hair is worthy of a shampoo commercial and that’s just what grows on my legs. Plucking and shaving is definitely a full time job”  – Clawdeen Wolf

It seems really odd to describe a doll shaving her legs on a toy targeted to children under 10, but that’s exactly what’s on the bio of the popular Monster High® doll Clawdeen Wolf.  I can’t fathom why a major toy company thinks that young girls care about leg hair! The fashion doll markets seems to be unwilling or unable to move away from the old stereotypes about beauty. It’s 2015! It is time to provide girls with choices outside of the fashion and beauty category.

Adventure dolls are designed to be a refreshing alternative to fashion dolls – built for action. They will feature action-oriented clothing and accessories, an immersive adventure storyline, and a strong and healthy looking body. Each doll is a relatable character, and comes with a unique skill set that she uses to drive the adventure.

I hope you’ll come explore what Ember World is all about!

To help us to raise the funds needed to manufacture the first production run of Ember dolls and storybooks (and to order a doll for a young girl in your life), you can visit our crowdfunding campaign page at:


Ember World creator Katie Nielsen.

Ember World creator Katie Nielsen.

Katie Nielsen is an adventurer, entrepreneur and the founder of Ember World – a toy start-up that is looking to inspire confidence in young girls through adventure play. With a background in business, marketing, and women’s studies Katie is passionate about the empowerment of young girls, and the power of entrepreneurship to help change the culture. She wants to see the toy industry invite girls into the action/adventure space, and she’s making this happen with adventure dolls.

La De Da: More Fashion Dolls

La De Da dolls main character.

While watching tv together this morning…..

“Mom, are La De Da dolls appropriate? I don’t think they have too much makeup on.” -6yo Original Pigtail Pal

“Well, some of their outfits are really creative and their hair is super cool. But some of their skirts are really short, and they are wearing other items that are usually just for grownups, like fish net stockings and high heels.” -Me

“Well, I think they wear high heels because they live in the city.” -OPP

“Oh, maybe. Except the dolls are supposedly 16. Auntie Courtney and Auntie Lisa and Louise and Lindsey live in big cities. Do they wear high heels and makeup like that?” -Me

“Well, Auntie Lisa can’t because it isn’t safe to wear heels in Africa. I think Auntie Courtney and Louise do when they go out for nights of fashion.” -OPP

“Oh, right. Auntie Courtney does have some fancy heels she wears for special occasions. The only time Auntie Courtney and I have worn makeup like that was in high school when we were being silly for Homecoming.” -Me

“Well, Lindsey can’t wear heels in her science lab because if she drops a beaker of chemicals, her toes will melt off and she’ll become a zombie.” -OPP

“Totally. I think their bodies look like sticks with big heads on top. They look like lollipops.” -Me

“Yeah, they do look like lollipops. So, can I get one of these? They just don’t make nice dolls these days.” -OPP

“You got that right, Sister. Amelia, I want you to realize these dolls aren’t too bad compared to some others, but all they are about is fashion. Design and textiles can be really interesting to study, but these dolls are just about wearing fashion and looking pretty. I’d like it better if they were students at a design school in NYC or at Columbia, and this into fashion. But when wearing cute clothes is their only attribute…. I just want you to realize the four women we talked about who we know in real life all have great wardrobes, but they are also a photographer in Africa, a vice president at a communications firm, a researcher for the government, and a PhD student in chemistry. They all have traveled the world, gone to college, gone to graduate school, and two of them have babies. I’m just saying, there is more to life than fancy eye makeup and super cute dresses.” -Me

“I know, Mom. There’s also zombie experiments. What if when I play with these dolls, I will pretend they are going to college to be President.” -OPP

“President of what, Smalls?” -Me

“The United States.” -OPP


La De Da dolls World Trip Collection




Images from Idle Hands post linked above. (