SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — They just wanted to give their niece a toy that matched their reality, but their makeshift doll set may be on its way to bringing more diversity to toy aisles everywhere.
“They look exactly like you,” Natalie, 8, shouted with excitement when she opened the same-sex couple doll set her uncles gave her.
Matt Jacobi and Nick Caprio, of Scottsdale, Arizona, have been together for more than 11 years, and they’re planning a May wedding, with their two nieces as flower girls.
Natalie, one of the girls, was celebrating her birthday on Dec. 8, and because she loves dolls, her uncles were hoping to get her a doll wedding set.
“We really wanted to give her something that she could enjoy, but also something that would be meaningful to her and somehow connected to the wedding she will be a part of,” Jacobi said.
The couple stumbled across the almost perfect set. It had a groom, two flower girls, a wedding cake and — a bride. Every set they found had a bride, which didn’t represent their love life.
“When we saw the toys in all the aisles, Nick and I looked at each other and had a moment. We just didn’t feel connected to any of them,” said Jacobi.
Upset they couldn’t find what they were looking for, Jacobi and Caprio got creative. They bought one of the Ken and Barbie wedding sets and an extra Ken, ditched the Barbie, and made their own same-sex couple wedding set.
After seeing his niece’s reaction, Jacobi wanted to give others the chance to experience the same emotion, so he posted the photo of his custom Barbie set on Instagram in hopes of catching the attention of Barbie-maker Mattel.
“This toy brought so much joy and happiness to my 8-year-old niece, and there are thousands and thousands of families just like Nick and I. I just had to do something,” Jacobi said.
The toy giant responded, and confirmed to CNN that Mattel has asked the couple to meet in Los Angeles to discuss their idea.
“We have a confirmed date set in early January, and we are extremely excited, grateful and incredibly determined to make this happen,” Jacobi said. “We are over the moon with all the positive responses we have received. We really just want to thank all the people out there for believing in our message that love is love.”
Mattel has been creating Barbie and Ken couple sets since 1961, and in recent years, the brand has been redefining what the dolls look like.
In 2015 it broadened the number of skin tones, eye colors and hairstyles available for the dolls.
In 2016 Mattel realized people don’t all come in one shape, so why should Barbie? So, the toymaker introduced the first curvy and petite Barbies.