Source: Afro Unicorn / Courtesy of Brand
As the mother of a little Black girl, who turned four in August, finding cute clothes with Black characters is considered a successful shopping mission. This back-to-school season, I was introduced to Afro Unicorn — the cutest colorful cartoon depiction of a brown unicorn on a pair of cozy fall pajamas. My eyes were immediately drawn to the bright colors, the natural textured unicorn mane, and the fictional spirit animal’s rich melanin.
Thanks to the Afro Unicorn CEO and founder, April Showers, Black girls like my daughter, can find representation at their local Targets, Walmarts, JCpenney’s, Kohl’s, and other retailers. April Showers is the first black woman to own a licensed character brand being sold in major retailers across the country.
“Afro Unicorn started in the e-commerce industry in 2019,” Showers explained in an e-mail exchange. “Back then, it was an organic, grassroots brand, and I was pressing shirts and selling them through my eCommerce store, adding logos to T-shirts and bags at my customers’ request. Afro Unicorn burst onto the scene as a brand in August 2021 after a video of a little girl wearing an Afro Unicorn shirt went viral. Then, I received an email from Walmart with the subject title ‘Afro Unicorn x Walmart’ collaboration, marking my start with Walmart as one of the first Black Women to enter the party supplies/celebration category, with Afro Unicorn gaining prime shelf placement next to Marvel characters and Disney princesses.”
Afro Unicorn products range from Magical Tresses hair products to the cutest clothing for mommy and means a publishing house extension with Afro Unicorn Books. We spoke to April Showers about Afro Unicorn and what inspired her to start the brand.
HelloBeautiful: Tell me about yourself and what inspired you to launch Afro Unicorn.
April Showers: Back in 2018, I was repeatedly referred to as a unicorn by a friend because I was doing it all at an extraordinary level—running my businesses, taking care of my boys as a single mom, and enjoying a bustling social life.
I researched these magical creatures to learn more and found that unicorns were white. Unicorns are magical, mythical, unique, and a good representation of myself, so I set out to find a unicorn emoji that represented me better. When I couldn’t find one, I hired an illustrator, who also happens to be my cousin, to create it myself.
HB: What is Afro Unicorn and how did you come up with the idea to make a Unicorn little Black kids could identify with?
April Showers: Afro Unicorn® is a conscious brand that has upheld its mission to uplift and impact women and children of color. The brand represents the beauty and uniqueness of vanilla, caramel, and mocha complexions.
The goal from the get-go was to normalize Black beauty. To give our black and brown girls a unicorn that represents them and encourages them to love the skin that they are in and embrace the crown on their heads.
More than a brand, Afro Unicorn has created a movement by upholding its intentional mission to uplift and impact women and children of color.
HB: What is the most surreal part about being the first Black woman to own a licensed character brand being sold in major retailers?
April Showers: The most surreal part is the fact that I said from day one that it would be a household brand. I didn’t know how it would happen or that I would still be the CEO while it was happening but I always knew the brand would be here. Afro Unicorn is now the fastest-growing, fully licensed Black-owned lifestyle brand in America.
Over the past year, Afro Unicorn has grown from one to 25 product categories with 500 SKUs across the U.S. and Canada in 40,000 stores, including the #1 luggage brand at Walmart and a featured brand at Target with three pull-togethers in the women’s, girls’ and toddler girls categories.
HB: What makes Afro Unicorn Magical Tresses hair products so good?
Afro Unicorn® is partnering with Magical Beauty as its first black-owned global licensing partner to offer an unrivaled hair care experience that honors all textures and tresses, fostering self-confidence and encouraging children to embrace the crowns on their heads. Afro Unicorn Magical Tresses hair & styling products are kid-friendly, mother-approved with pure goodness!
•NO YUCKIES- Free from Sulfates, Silicones, Parabens, Phthalates, Drying Alcohols or Harsh Chemicals.
HB: It’s back-to-school time, what products do you recommend for moms?
April Showers: Afro Unicorn Magical Tresses hair and styling products, Afro Unicorn accessories, our 5-piece backpack set, and lunch pail – both perfect for back-to-school! For birthdays and special occasions, moms will find beautiful Afro Unicorn cakes with edible icing art at Walmart and major grocery chains across the U.S. We are equally thrilled with one of our latest consumable products, Afro Unicorn fruit snacks. Our goal is for Afro Unicorn cakes to be enjoyed at every birthday party and for our fruit snacks to be put in every lunch pail.
I am thrilled to share my new line of six original Afro Unicorn® books under the Random House Books for Young Readers imprint this fall. “A Magical Day” and “We Are Afro Unicorns”—a Little Golden Book—both are now on shelves everywhere books are sold as of September 5th! There are six Afro Unicorn titles with ‘The Most Magical Time of the Year’ publishing this October and three books coming in the Spring. The series features three Afro Unicorn characters by name across all Afro Unicorn® products. Each Afro Unicorn has superpowers: Unique is the problem solver with the power to heal and protect; Divine cheerleads and uplifts others, possessing super strength; and Magical is the all-knowing one with the power to read minds.
HB: What do you hope Afro Unicorn conquers next?
April Showers: We want to create location-based experiences – activity centers, hotels, and amusement parks. We want children to live and play in the land of Afronia. My vision is an empowering, impactful physical space for authentic representation where children can be their authentic selves and get over that European standard of beauty. There are no spaces that currently exist with this type of representation.
In the very near future, I want to secure a family activity center. I envision a place where you can spend time together as a family in a fun, supervised place to play, create, or relax. Kids can be themselves, bringing self-esteem and motivating them positively.
My brand continues to be a movement with a social impact with the launch of the Afro Unicorn Foundation, led by extraordinary Executive Director, Kenyelle Ash. The Afro Unicorn Foundation is designed to make a direct impact on young girls by helping them to discover and uncover what makes them unique, divine and magical by nurturing them to become confident leaders of tomorrow. To learn more, visit our website: http://www.afrounicornfoundation.org.
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