There’s an excitement around unicorns normalizing Black beauty.
"Afro unicorn is a lifestyle brand to remind women and children of color how unique, divine and magical there truly are," said April Showers, founder of Afro Unicorn.
Showers says she created the business concept in 2019 — an idea sparked by a friend.
"A friend has kept referring to me as a unicorn," Showers said.
When she took a closer look, she discovered there were no Black unicorns that represented her strength, determination and uniqueness as a woman.
"Instead of complaining about it, I just want to be the change that I wanted to see," Showers said.
She designed Unique, Divine and Magical. They're three mythical creatures with curly hair in three colors — mocha, vanilla and caramel — with a mission and a movement in mind.
"Our goal from the beginning was to normalize Black beauty, to give our Black and brown girls a unicorn that represents them and also encourages them to love the skin of their and embrace the crowns on their head," Showers said.
A recent Arizona State University study of more than 100 African American girls age 10 to 15 found they often go through unpleasant experiences because of their hair, including teasing and unwanted touching, and that can have a negative effect on body image for Black children.
NEWSY'S ADI GUAJARDO: What kind of negative impacts can kids have if someone's teasing them about their curly hair or someone's wanting to touch it because it's different?
ASU ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR LISA ANDERSON: They can often grow up feeling like they're not normal.
Anderson says it can also create a feeling of self-doubt that kids may carry with them into adulthood, and she says diverse representation of toys and role models also creates a sense of normality.
"The more representation you get, a more wide variety of kinds of people, the better it is to for people who are not in that particular group to understand the diversity that is within a particular racial or ethnic group," Anderson said.
Representation can also create confidence.
"I got a message from a mom just recently saying prior to the unicorn, her and her daughter were very conscious about their natural hair, and now she sees a difference in her daughter," Showers said. "Her daughter wants to wear her natural hair, and she believes that that confidence stems from a unicorn."
Showers, a single mother of two boys ages 16 and 11, started her business at home in printing t-shirts.
"It was a family affair," Showers said. "The living room was just filled with shirts and packaging."
Sales and support quickly grew despite a pandemic and civil unrest.
"This unicorn gave them a sense of hope, a sense of confidence, so sales actually took off during the pandemic because everyone wanted to feel unique, divine and magical during a time where we were really, really being oppressed," Showers said.
Big celebrities who felt represented stepped in to promote the business, like the cast of The Real Housewives of Atlanta and even Oprah Winfrey, who shared a post.
From there, a celebration of culture and beauty beyond her imagination took over. Walmart reached out to her and asked if she had ever considered doing party supplies, and the idea exploded.
In June, Showers posted on Instagram her first visit to Walmart when her unicorns hit the shelves.
"We're on shelves and party supplies in over 1,500 doors," Showers said. "We just launched apparel today and children's apparel, and we're over in 3,800 stores and Walmart. And it's a pretty big deal because I am one of the first Black females to enter into party supplies for Walmart."
A woman and a mother with a dream aimed to touch lives, starting in her living room and expanding to the shelves of one of the biggest stores in the nation.
"I cry every morning," Showers said. "I wake up crying in the morning. They'll have some kind of pulse from some child or mother saying how the brand has given them confidence, then I go to bed crying because I'll have another pulse before I go to bed, telling me what this brand and what the movement and when they feel like giving up, they see what we're doing and then they keep going. So it's it's an emotional rollercoaster for me.”
Now Showers will soon announce a publisher for her book, and plans to tap into the music scene.