96. Frobelles

Frobelles is a digital dress-up game that's challenging a lack of representation and pushing for greater inclusivity in the tech world.

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For the business that demonstrates committed diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative and how it has been embedded in the company.

Startups 100: DEI Award
Startups 100 2024 NOMINEE
Young Entrepreneur Award Shortlisted

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Founders: Yvonne Ottley-Awuah and Alyssa Ottley-Awuah
Founded: 2018
Website: frobelles.fun

In a world where children are bombarded with images that reinforce narrow beauty standards, Frobelles is a breath of fresh air. This innovative dress-up game is designed to celebrate diversity and inclusivity, providing young people with a platform to experiment with their sense of style and identity without fear of judgement.

The brainchild of mother-daughter duo Yvonne Ottley-Awuah and Alyssa Ottley-Awuah, Frobelles was created in response to the lack of representation in popular media. 

Yvonne is a social entrepreneur with a passion for using technology to create positive change, while her daughter Alyssa is staking a claim to fame as a cofounder at just 11 years old – though her journey began in 2018 at the tender age of six. 

Frustrated by not finding characters who looked like her in the doll brands and dress-up apps she adored, Alyssa and cofounder/mum Yvonne set out on a mission to create a solution by launching Frobelles, the UK’s first Afro hair dress-up game. 

“I’d say the biggest USP is Alyssa’s involvement,” Yvonne tells us. “She represents the demographic of girls that our game has been dedicated to helping see themselves. So, her opinion, feedback and steer on many decisions have helped us to shape our brand into what it is today.” 

Indeed, Alyssa’s input was instrumental in the early stages of beta testing. Both Alyssa and her friendship circle became a test bed and focus group before the launch of the game.

The game features a wide range of avatars with different skin tones, hair textures, and facial features, allowing children to create characters that look like them.

In addition to being a fun and engaging way for children to express themselves, Frobelles also offers educational content on topics such as self-care, hair care, and styling. This is particularly important for young people of colour, who are often bombarded with negative messages about their appearance.

Frobelles is more than just a game; it’s a movement for change. The company is committed to using its platform to promote positive body image and self-acceptance. Through its social media channels, Frobelles shares stories of young people who are embracing their individuality and challenging societal norms.

Yvonne lauds the sense of community Frobelles has achieved. “We put a lot of time into our digital channels,” she tells us. “We treat our Instagram like an extension of our main product.” 

Yvonne is bold about the future ambitions for the business. “We see Frobelles as a leading brand in the children’s entertainment market,” Yvonne says. “We want to continue to develop our game to include more features, add more hair and fashion collections, and do more community activities. We also want to expand our brand into retail, and increase our positive impact beyond the digital app.”

Frobelles is addressing a critical social issue: the lack of representation of diverse groups in media and technology.  The game is a reminder that everyone deserves to feel seen and represented. It is a celebration of diversity and a call for greater inclusivity in all aspects of life, and is filling a gap in the market for inclusive children’s entertainment. Alyssa’s guiding involvement is a powerful example of how young people can use their voices to make a difference in the world.

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