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Unique ‘urban unicorn’

Afro Unicorn brings an assortment of party supplies to Walmart. (PRNewsfoto/Afro Unicorn)

Born and raised in South L.A., April Showers (yes, that’s her real name) drove herself to the LA County High School for the Arts daily. She credits that environment for her ultimately becoming an entrepreneur and founder of the Afro Unicorn brand.

“We went to school on a college campus,” Showers said. “It gave me a sense of real independence. No one’s really monitoring you. It takes you to a different level of maturity. It definitely prepared me.”

But what could have prepared her to be interviewed by Gale King last month as a guest on “CBS This Morning?”

The television feature on the Afro Unicorn™ brand, which she had been promoting through her online community, all started with a viral video featuring a 4-year-old girl wearing an Afro Unicorn™ t-shirt. That video was shared by numerous celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, King’s BFF.

It also caught the attention of a Walmart associate. In June, Walmart launched a curated assortment of Afro Unicorn™ party supplies and favors. Next month, Target will feature a girls clothing line sporting the colorful cartoons.

“I am the first Black woman to have a licensed brand character in major retail,” Showers said. Her unicorns come in various shades of brown and sport afro-like manes that some children can relate to. “It’s about building confidence. A lot of the parents have told me that because the unicorn has complexion and afro style hair, that gives them an extra sense of confidence.”

The idea started when one of her friends admired her real estate business and her go-to attitude.

“‘You’re a unicorn,’ he always told me,” Showers said, admitting she had to look up exactly what he meant. “I grew up with mud pies, basketball… not unicorns.”

The mythical, magical creature has been featured in a few movies of late. The single-horned horses are so unique and hard to find in those movies, that it is said that the hairs from their tails are used in the cores of magic wands.

After figuring out the metaphor, Showers used the unicorn emoji over and over again in her correspondence.

“I decided I’m Black girl magic,” Showers said.

But one day she noticed something was wrong, even though unicorns seem to be wildly popular, especially for little girls’ products, none of the unicorn dolls or their depictions on clothes or accessories resembled her at all.

“Who determined unicorns were supposed to be white?” she asked, noting that this country has had a European standard for so long – going back to Cinderella and Snow White. “I wanted to be the change I wanted to see.”

Showers now has about 40 licenses and the line features everything needed to throw a unicorn party, including party staples like plates, napkins, balloons, decorations and pinatas. Other highlights from the brand include favors like multi-color faux hair clips, sequin journals and an Afro Unicorn™ stuffed animal.

“As the world’s largest retailer, Walmart continues to build an inclusive supply chain that reflects our customers and provides products and services that resonate and meet our customers’ needs,” said Laura Rush, senior vice president of entertainment, toys and seasonal at Walmart.

“My main goal for Afro Unicorn™ is to ensure Black girls and women feel unique, divine, and magical,” said Showers, who added that the brand is more than a line of products. “It’s a movement to make sure Black people are represented and have a seat at the table. I’m grateful Walmart understands how important this is and gave me that seat at the table.”

Our Weekly coverage of local news in Los Angeles County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support minority-owned-and-operated community newspapers across California.