22-Year-Old University Of Houston Student Datreese Thomas Launches Doll Company To Empower Black Girls

At just 22-years-old, Datreese Thomas is a one-woman show. The economics major created The Melanie Doll from the ground up and currently sustains the company with her own funding.

Thomas applied for various grants but had no luck, and refused to keep her ideas on the table. Over the course of a year, Thomas saved money from her internship to put toward The Melanie Dolls then successfully launched her business in 2021.

“Honestly, I have not acquired any support. I am like a self sustained small business right now,” Thomas said. “I’ve tried to apply for grants and different things to help with my business, but I’ve never ever been able to acquire any of that. I had to make a decision to say, ‘Okay, I’m going to do this.’  Me saying I’m gonna do this, is me giving everything.” 

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