January 2002

Kitty Black-Perkins

Chief Designer of Fashions and Doll Concepts for Mattel's Barbie line

Kitty Black-Perkins is an accomplished Chief Designer of Fashions and Doll Concepts for Mattel’s highly successful Barbie line. Over the years, Black-Perkins’s hard work and fashion genius have contributed to Barbie’s 300 million plus fashions. Barbie is marking her forty-third anniversary in 2002. For 26 of those years, Black-Perkins has wowed the world adorning its most popular doll. A native of Spartanburg, South Carolina, Black-Perkins is one of seven children. She was encouraged to dream big by two loving parents and her two art teachers at Carver High School. Her dream of becoming a commercial artist took flight when her aunt in California invited her to visit for the summer after high school graduation. Black-Perkins embraced Los Angeles. She earned her degree in fashion design from Los Angeles Trade Technical College in 1971, and after that, she was on her way. Her career experience as a fashion designer began with several fashion houses in Los Angeles among them Miss Melinda of California, Debbie Ross, A & O Couture, and many others. In 1976, Black-Perkins was enticed by a classified ad for a fashion designer for the largest toy company in the world – Mattel. Through Mattel, Black-Perkins was given the opportunity to travel all over the world. One of her many lines is the African-American fashion dolls: Shanni and Friends, introduced in 1991; Fashion Savvy, introduced in 1997, and the Brandy line currently on the market. A special doll, designed by Black-Perkins, was donated to the South Carolina State Museum in May of 2001. Black-Perkins’s creative impact as a top designer has been recognized and pursued by some of the industry’s top magazines and newspapers. Ebony, Essence, LA Magazine, Woman’s Day, and Sister to Sister are just a sample of those who have followed her career in print. In addition, her reputation of 26 years and design savvy have earned her many honors throughout the industry. Some of these include the distinction of receiving the Chairman’s Award, the highest recognition a Mattel employee can receive. She was honored with this in 1985 and 1987. The toy industry also honored her with their highest achievement award, The Doty Award. She was chosen Woman of the Year honoree at the annual “Woman Keeping the Dream Alive” banquet sponsored by the National Council of Negro Women in 1994. More recently, she was inducted into the Black Hall of Fame on July 23, 2001. Black-Perkins has always made it a priority to invest time and energy back to the community. She has volunteered to be a guest speaker at several Career Day events and has contributed spectacular one-of-a-kind creations to various charitable fund raisers, raising well over $100,000. Black-Perkins says the best part of her job is the satisfaction of seeing her designs completed and knowing that her dolls are making a lot of little girls happy all over the world. Black-Perkins resides in southern California with her two children. They are her most prized accomplishment and have been a great source of strength and support for her in following her dreams.