"We would be looking for a mermaid that looked like my little cousin, or a mermaid with brown skin and we could never find any," Abbott told Parents.com. "We would usually create our own decorations or we would settle for supplies with just a silhouette of the mermaid. But I would [say] 'it would be so awesome if we had a mermaid that looked like us'."
Now Abbott has a daughter of her own—and ran into the same issue when planning her birthday party. When her daughter said she wanted a Dora the Explorer party, Abbott suggested maybe she choose another theme. "I said 'don't you want to be somebody else?' And she said, 'like who?' I really didn't have an answer for her," Abbott said. "So I told my husband 'you know what? I'm going to create my own party supplies.' I'm going to create [characters] with brown skin.'"
Abbott did her research and found a void in the marketplace. She posted about her project on Facebook and got lots of great responses, and now she's launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund her vision. She's hard at work on product samples and is working on more designs and characters, including a pirate-theme. Abbott plans to sell the items on her own site, but she also hopes a major party supply retailer will pick them up.
"I showed [images of the products] to my daughter and said 'what do you think?' And she said 'I want to be that kind of mermaid.' That kind of blew me away because I've never had a conversation about race with my children. I've never told them they were different than anybody or that anybody was different than them," Abbott said. "For her to say 'I want to be that kind of mermaid' and she's only 4 meant to me that she recognized that this mermaid looks different than other mermaids she knows....She was in love with it from the beginning."