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Hail to the (Plastic) Chief!

No recount needed-this presidential doll made her maker a winner.

Just another pretty face she isn't. Political naysayers' jaws dropped in June 2000 when Vanessa, one of five dolls in the Get Set Club collection, announced she would run against Barbie in the 2000 presidential election. Vanessa is college-educated, entrepreneurial and African American. "We thought the idea was a great way to [show] we were different," says company founder Jennifer Baker, 36.

Intrigued reporters and consumers soon flooded Baker's Philadelphia company with calls for the presidential doll. However, there was no Vanessa for President doll to go with the campaign. Baker and her staff hustled to make the special dolls, eventually selling 1,700 of them. "It was so backwards, but it turned out to be such a success," Baker says. Vanessa's cabinet members, the four other Get Set Club dolls, also sold well and led to a sales increase of 30 percent, with sales for 2000 exceeding $1 million.

Baker says the campaign was a very positive experience that led to other creative ideas, like a political fund-raiser for Vanessa, attended by CNN. The Ms. Foundation also selected Baker's dolls as the official products for Take Our Daughters to Work Day 2001. And the winner of that 2000 presidential election? You be the judge.

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This article was originally published in the November 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Hail to the (Plastic) Chief!.

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