|It's a Small World After All|
|By Charlotte Bruce Harvey '78|
In the weeks after 9/11, Aisha Bailey worked at the New York City medical examiner’s office. “I would go to autopsies all day,” she says, “and when that got to be too stressful, I needed some sort of artistic channel.” That need for an outlet ultimately led Bailey, now a pediatrician in New Jersey, to a second career as designer and CEO of a line of dolls called Ishababies, which draw their name from her childhood nickname, Isha.
Since college, Bailey had been drawing cartoons for friends’ birthday
cards, and while in New York she created a line of baby-announcement
and gift cards. Her mother, Bernicestine Bailey ’68, had been attending
toy shows for years and was discouraged by the lack of diversity among
dolls. “When I decided I wanted to create a companion for little
people,” Aisha says, “Mom got me into a toy fair.” They connected with
a manufacturer in China who took Aisha’s drawings and translated them
into ten-inch-tall cotton plush dolls. Since Aisha was training for her
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree, her mother and father, trustee
emeritus Harold Bailey ’70, helped run the company.
Still, the pediatrician in Bailey comes out when she talks about the therapeutic role her dolls can play in boosting children’s confidence. She tells the story of one of her patients, an eight-year-old boy who lived in a mostly white neighborhood with his white dad and black mom. Receiving a Caramel Boy doll, he was thrilled. He carried it everywhere, Bailey says: “He said, ‘It looks like me!’ and he started speaking up more in class.”