Featured Yelitsa Jean-Charles keynote speaker healthy roots entrepreneurship diversity inclusion
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Traveling From

Detroit, MI, USA

Tags: Activism / Diversity & Inclusion / Entrepreneurship / Social Change & Issues / Startup / The Arts & Design


Yelitsa Jean-Charles never had a doll that looked like her growing up. The one time her parents gave her a black doll, she burst into tears because it wasn’t the “pretty one”. Since then, Yelitsa has made it her goal to make sure that no other children feel the way she did about her own appearance growing.

While in her Junior year studying Illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design, Yelitsa redesigned the fairy tale Character Rapunzel as a brown girl with beautiful kinky hair. After speaking with classmates and friends. she saw the opportunity to address the demonstrated need for more diverse toys and representation in children’s publishing.

With a grant from Brown University Social Innovation Fellowship, support from the RISD E’Ship Program, Masschallenge Accelerator program and 674 dedicated Kickstarter backers, Healthy Roots was born.

Yelitsa has gone from not knowing how to do her own hair at the age 21 to teaching young girls all about their own.

Since starting Healthy Roots in 2015, Yelitsa has graduated from RISD with a BFA in Illustration and a concentration in Gender, Race & Sexuality. She was most recently recognized on Essence’s 2017 50 Founders to Watch list and won the Startup Stampede as well as the New Voices Fund Pitch competition.


How Black Girl Magic Can Change the World

Yelitsa looks to the options society provides to girls of color and considers a more diverse & inclusive future powered by women entrepreneurs.

Yelitsa Jean-Charles can speak to topics around entrepreneurship, art & design, culture competency, diversity & inclusion, and social justice.



I don't drink alcoholic beverages by choice and really wish there were better options to casually meet up with people after work/events/etc that doesn't include a bar. I've survived on mocktails, strolls in the park or gelato-runs, but would love to see a culture shift

Why are there no waffle houses in chicago.

I am emotional.

I have yet to see a non black woman questioned about her hair being real before given a compliment for it.

Y'all need to stop.

My life and journey with @RootsDolls is a great example of go where you are wanted and respected.

University of South Carolina graduate, Shydeia Caldwell on Oprah’s @OWNTV discussing her platform @blackgmagik which is dedicated to building sisterhood across the African diaspora. This summer, she and a collective of women of color will be touring the US

One Day is a terrible movie and I'm tired of women continuing to give space and time to men who don't put them first until after they've made all their mistakes.

Em really dropped a handsome successful french man for a washed up single dad who dubbed her in college? Pathetic.