Two sisters, Jenae and Gina Heitkamp, are working to get dolls on shelves that represent a new range of career aspirations. Through their Kickstarter campaign, they hope to create iBesties – "modern dolls for modern girls." The dolls each come with a workbook that teaches girls about business and technology, as well as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning.
"The idea came when I was working as a school counselor in Los Angeles with inner city children," Jenae tells PEOPLE. "I realized that many of the girls I worked with didn't know about, or have exposure to, more modern careers based in technology or entrepreneurship."
The Heitkamps originally crafted a workbook to expose girls to modern career paths, but realized they could make more of an impact if they brought their workbook characters to life as dolls.
"Most people are shocked to learn that in this age of technology and tablets, over 90 percent of girls ages 3-10 own dolls," says Jenae. "This is a great opportunity to bring new concepts of technology and entrepreneurship into familiar play patterns, because these really are exciting careers and we want to convey that."
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"We wanted to bring female characters to the market that young girls could not only relate to but would also aspire to be like – smart, savvy and modern," says Jenae. "There's been a big push recently for girls to get involved in STEM fields, but unfortunately it hasn't trickled down to the mass market yet."
"iBesties plants the seed that these type of jobs are adventurous, fun, challenging and attainable," she continues. "The same way that dolls have inspired young girls to be fashionistas or pop stars, our dream is for young girls to dream about coding, start-ups and being business owners."