Aniqua Wilkerson is a New York City native, born and raised in the High Bridge section of the Bronx. As number three of seven children, creativity was always encouraged in her house growing up. Her father, an electrician, artist, and avid comic book collector made sure she always had art supplies. Aniqua attended Lehman College in the Bronx where she obtained a degree in sociology with a minor in education. She spent most of her adult career as a teacher, using art to be a more effective educator. Aniqua is a self-taught crochet artist. She became interested in crochet at around 19 years old when her cousin found some old home economics books. At this time there was no YouTube and she didn’t know anyone who could teach her.
Over the years while attending college and working, Aniqua did not realize how skilled she had become at her favorite hobby. She had acquired quite a collection of tools and materials to experiment with and create new things. It wasn’t until January 2013 that she decided she didn’t want to teach anymore, at least not in a formal setting. She decided to try her hand at being a full-time artist.
Meet the Maker
As a former early childhood educator, Aniqua is inspired by children and vibrant colors. Much of the things she creates are whimsical and imaginative. Her crochet creations are most often collectible and practical. Her company “My Kinda Thing” encompasses her designs noticeably nontraditional take the old art form of crochet. From crazy hats to imaginary creatures, her crochet creations are not the kinda things grandmothers make!
Aniqua decided to specialize in creating dolls when she opted to challenge herself a little. Because she had become so skilled in creating without needing blueprints, she decided to take a look at what designs were already around. She was surprised to find that she only came across two designers who were creating Black/African/African American dolls. What surprised her, even more, was that neither of the designers was Black/African/African American. It was at this point that Aniqua had officially found her thing.
Aniqua’s collection of Black/Brown dolls (Beautifully Brown Doll Collection) is about more than just doll making. It’s about representation through positive imagery. It’s about creating designs in a rainbow of brown skin tones and hairstyles/textures that realistically depict children of color. The mission of this wonderfully unique doll collection is to promote pride and confidence in children of color, particularly girls in efforts to combat self-hate. Her dolls have been teaching tools created with love and purpose much like the individuals who purchase them.
In April 2017 Aniqua started what she has called the “My Kinda Thing University” a virtual handmade school comprised of over 30 courses geared towards teaching other crocheters how to create dolls of color. It has become her mission to not only contribute to the store of positive imagery for children of color but to encourage others to do the same. She has shared some of her most sought after techniques through teaching these courses and makes it clear that “in order to truly create diverse doll designs you will need to do more than just use brown yarn.”