This Mom Was Frustrated By The Lack Of Party Supply Options For Kids Of Color, So She's Working To Change That

" ... it is up to me to create what I wish to see in the world."

Lynette Abbott, 37, has been a professional event planner for over four years and has spent the past 15 years informally styling events and planning family trips. During this time, the Miami, Florida-based mom has been disappointed to see the lack of party supply options for children of color as the characters printed on paper cups, napkins, and balloons too often showcase very little diversity. 

"Once I had children of my own, I saw the world differently and decided that it is up to me to create what I wish to see in the world," Abbott told A Plus. "My daughter loves themed parties, but would choose characters that look nothing like her because she had no choice. She deserves to have a choice." 

So, she decided to give her one. 

Abbott recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for Craft My Occasion, a party supplies line dedicated to celebrating children of color and helping them develop a positive, loving self-image in the process. 

"I think the party supplies industry appeals to the mainstream, and the same is true for characters of animated shows and series. People of color are not commonly seen in these areas, therefore products are not created in their image. However, the conventional culture is changing and diversity is becoming mainstream," Abbott said. "Inclusion is the only way to move forward and grow. This is especially important for children. They must feel acknowledged, valued and loved in order to grow into thriving humans that contribute to the world."

Abbott's first party supply set features an under-the-sea mermaid. 

"I chose this design first because I have styled a few mermaid parties in the past, and was unable to find a brown-skinned mermaid. I usually settled for a mermaid silhouette as the main design for these parties," Abbott said. "It was important that my mermaid have brown skin, big brown eyes and big hair. Most mermaids have long flowing hair, but it was essential that my mermaid design had the kinky curls that many young girls of color can relate to."

After deciding what she wanted the mermaid to look like, the mom of two worked with graphic designer Ana Rako to bring her idea to life. Now, the design can be found on Craft My Occasion's cups, plates, napkins, balloons and backdrops perfect for photo ops. 

Her next designs include pirates and superheroes that represent boys and girls of color.

Getting an excellent idea off the ground is exciting as is, but it's even better when you can share it with your family. So, Abbott enlisted the help of her husband, Edson Abbott, and children, her daughter, 5-year-old Anyah, and her son, 9-year-old Adonis, to help. 

"My husband listens to all my crazy ideas and he also has a great eye for creative design. He's the muscle behind every party that I've styled and stays up late nights to help me package orders to ship," Abbott said. "My kids also engage in the creative process, because they are my 'customer' and I value their prospective."

Abbott hopes to raise $20,000 on Kickstarter to fund the first run her party supplies, but she's already seen the positive impact they can have on children of color from the mermaid products she's already had printed. 

"My daughter is obsessed especially since the mermaid looks like her. The first time she saw the design, she said 'I wanna be THAT kinda mermaid.' Several of my friends have shown it to their kids, and their faces light up," she said. "One of my friend's 10-year-old daughter told me that the mermaid looks amazing and makes her feel like she can be anything." 

She's also received many positive responses on social media from others who believe have more party supply options for children of color is long overdue. 

"The response has been overwhelmingly positive. I learned that so many women, no matter their ethnicity, are overjoyed to see my party supplies and have been very vocal about the value they will bring to children and the need to have them in party stores," Abbott said. 

In addition, Abbott's line has helped to bring awareness to this issue. "Several women, that are not of color, have commented on social media that they hadn't even noticed the lack of options for children of color before seeing my party supplies," she said. "My hope is that others will learn to sharpen their eye and identify disparities in our society, because that will lead to change." 

Projects like these show people that while we may have made strides toward inclusion in some products and media, we still have much more work to do. 

"It is so important that our children see themselves in a positive light on a consistent basis. If not, they will associate themselves with what they see in the media," Abbott said. "Therefore, it is our responsibility to live our lives in a way that they can proudly model and constantly give them tools to create a self-image of value and love." 

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