Annie Lee Dolls Portray the Work of a Legend

Annie Lee Dolls Feature Photo

“You’re going to be working all of your life, so just do what makes you happy! And, if you are able to make others happy while doing what makes you happy, what more could you ask?”
– Annie Lee

We were recently given the incredible opportunity to add a line of Annie Lee dolls to our products here at Africa Imports. The original retail price on these dolls was $84, but we are now able to offer them at a surprisingly low price of $3.95 each. We hope that you and your customers can enjoy these dolls and help pay homage to the creator of these timeless figurines. To see the wonderful collection we have available in limited quantities, simply click here.

Annie Lee

The Legacy of Annie Lee Dolls

Annie Lee, the creator of these dolls, is renowned as one of the front-runners in African American artwork. She was known for her exuberant, lively style and the way her faceless dolls would portray emotion and glamour in a way that was not only fun but humorous. Her dolls had no faces, nor did the subjects of much of her artwork, but their posture reveals an emotion and liveliness that is hard to find elsewhere. “I try to paint things that people can identify with,” Lee told Contemporary Black Biography. And she succeeded. At her first gallery show in 1985, her paintings sold out within four hours of the show.
Lee’s work seems to lure the viewer into the lifestyle and atmosphere it shows; you can hear the saxophone player in her paintings and you can sense the swagger in a faceless doll wearing a fancy blue dress and dangling gold-colored earrings. Everything about Annie Lee’s artwork and her dolls speaks of the lush, everday life in African American culture as Annie Lee knew it.

Annie Lee’s Origins

Annie Lee was born in Gadsden, Alabama in 1935 and raised in Chicago by her devoted single mother. Growing up, she was expected to learn survival skills like cooking, washing, cleaning, and sewing. She enjoyed listening to radio shows like The Lone Ranger and The Shadow while knitting, crocheting, or drawing. At an early age she found fulfillment through painting, and won her first art competition at the age of ten. She loved art throughout her childhood, and grew more and more skilled as a painter and creator throughout high school. After high school, Lee was offered a four-year scholarship to attend Northwestern University after high school, but chose to marry and raise a family instead.

Unfortunately, life wasn’t easy after that. She wasn’t able to resume painting until she was 40-years-old, and before that she had gone through the sadness of losing two husbands to cancer and raised a son and daughter largely on her own. By day she worked as a chief clerk at Northwestern Railroad, and by night she studied art. After eight years of night classes, she earned her masters degree in interdisciplinary arts education from Loyola University. “Getting my masters degree was the best thing I ever did for myself. It reopened my mind,” Lee is quoted as saying.

Physical Hardships and Personal Tragedy

Annie Lee’s life still wasn’t easy after she got her masters degree. She developed tendonitis and spinal problems from painting so much, and the fumes from her acrylic paints made her sick. Even so, she refused to give up and had her first gallery show in 1985. The demand for her work was incredible, and she was inspired to keep working nights to bring in a supplementary income for her two children.

Sadly, tragedy struck in 1986 when Lee’s son died in an automobile accident. She left work to grieve her loss, and decided she would give up the financial security of her day job to pursue her art full-time. “I prayed I could make my living by painting. I felt I was supposed to paint. Now that my son was gone, I didn’t need such financial resources,” Lee remembered to CBB.“God did this through me,” she continued.“I never thought I would leave the railroad, but it was the best thing I ever did. It was hard to leave the security, but you have to take a leap of faith.”

A Successful Art Career

Annie Lee’s daring risk was a good one. In 1990, she opened her own shop, Annie Lee and Friends Gallery. She had a strong business sense and her gallery was a success! Some of her paintings even appeared in popular TV shows like Bill Cosby’s A Different World.
Lee was determined to capture Black American life and to convey emotion through body language and style as opposed to facial expressions. “You don’t need to see a face to understand emotion,” Lee explained to CBB.“I try to make the movement of the body express the emotion. And people can use their imaginations.”

Sadly, Annie Lee passed away on November 24th, 2014, in Henderson, Nevada. She was 79-years-old, and she will be truly missed. We hope that many more artists will follow in her footsteps and learn from her determination and unique perspective.

To see the Annie Lee doll collection available now, click here.

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The 5 Powerful Ingredients in Raw Shea Butter Soap

Raw Shea Butter Soap Benefits

This raw shea butter soap has long been a best-seller here at Africa Imports, and it’s not hard to see why. Fans of the soap rave that it does everything from soften skin to repel mosquitoes!

“I love this soap…..not only does it improve the quality of your skin but I found another benefit. I live in the Delta in Mississippi and the mosquitoes are very bad here…..I started using the Shea soap and the mosquitoes stopped biting as often. As a matter of fact, the only time I get bit is when I stop using the raw Shea butter soap.”User 62045

So what makes this soap so great? Well, let’s take a look at 5 incredible ingredients found in this raw shea butter soap.

#1 – Shea Butter

Pure West African shea butter is used in this soap, and the benefits shea butter provide are numerous! Shea butter softens the skin, reducing itchiness, dryness, and flaking. Shea butter also helps to soothe symptoms of eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis. Shea butter can fade stretch marks, reduce scarring, and even help wounds to heal faster!

#2 – Vitamin E

The added Vitamin E in this soap helps to keep your skin smooth and soft while reducing hyperpigmentation and discoloration.

#3 – Honey Extract

Honey extract works wonders on sensitive or delicate skin. It gently moisturizes and soothes irritation while protecting skin from harsh environmental factors. Honey extract also helps to balance skin’s moisture levels and keep your skin breakout free.

#4 – Mango Seed Butter

Mango seed butter helps to encourage the production of collagen which in turn gives you more youthful skin! It also is a natural source of Vitamin A which helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Mango Seed butter also helps to keep skin soft and smooth while calming insect bites and poison ivy.

#5 – Cocoa Seed Butter

The benefits of cocoa seed butter are numerous! Cocoa butter helps to relieve itchy, irritated skin while improving moisture and overall tone. Cocoa butter can also help to soothe burns, rashes, and infections and fight signs of aging.

Where Can I Find This Soap?

You can order this soap online here or find it at certain local health food stores.

What Are Your Thoughts?

Have you tried this soap before? We’d love to hear your experiences! Share them with us in the comments!

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The Meaning and History of the Maasai Mask

Maasai Mask Meaning

The powerful and legendary Maasai people group of Africa is one of the most famous groups in African culture. While they are more commonly associated with Kenya, they are also located in Tanzania. They are known for their highly-skilled warriors and their cattle-herding abilities. In fact, in Maasai culture, a man’s wealth is measured in terms of cattle and children. A herd of 50 cattle is a respectable amount, and the more children the better!

Masks like the one shown below were historically used in traditional tribal ceremonies to scare opponenets of the Maasai people. This mask shows the characteristic stretching of the earlobes which is common among the Maasai. Because the Maasai are nomadic, they don’t have the ancestor cults that many African people groups do. They don’t hold any beliefs in survival after death – which is one of the reasons they do not bury their dead. In many African cultures, masks are used in rituals to honor the ancestors, but in Maasai culture the masks were historically worn in traditional ceremonies including celebrations, initiations, crop harvests, and war preparations. The masks often represented the spirits of mythological beings, animals, or spirits.

Maasai Masks

In long days past, during ceremonies, a tribal member of the Maasai people would enter a deep trance and deliver a message from the spirit in grunts, broken sentences, or partial phrases. An elder or wise man from the group usually served as an interpreter. Today, these types of ceremonies are often only practiced for tourists as modernism has done away with a lot of the traditional practices. The masks are a way for the Maasai people to make an income and are, for now, mainly used to sell to tourists to provide a livelihood for the carver or artisan.

Where Can I Get My Own Maasai Mask?

We sell Maasai Masks in various sizes at our Africa Imports web page. You can get one in a 9-10″ size, a 11-12″ size, a 5-6″ size, and a 15-16″ size.

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Deodorant Danger – Why Choosing Natural Deodorant is Essential

Dangerous Deodorant

Deodorant isn’t really one of those ‘fun’ purchases that you light up over and can’t wait to buy. Deodorant is considered by many an essential – you get it because you have to, because we all don’t want to smell bad, and many of us just look for the cheapest, best-smelling thing we can find. This was me for most of my life. This is most of us. But unfortunately, this kind of thinking can be dangerous.
What we put on our body is often absorbed by our skin and can have a great impact on our overall health. Here are some of the ingredients found in non-natural deodorants that you should avoid: Read more

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What is the Real Meaning Behind “Traditional” Print Clothing?

Meaning Behind Dashiki or Angelina Print Fabric

Traditional print, or dashiki style clothing is becoming increasingly popular this year, and it’s not hard to see why! From vibrant colors to an exotic design this style is a great way to bring attention to your African heritage. But what does this design mean? Is there any significance to this popular print? Let’s find out! Read more

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5 Ways Peppermint Oil Can Benefit You

Peppermint Oil Benefits

Peppermint essential oil not only smells amazing, but it does a lot of incredible things for your skin! Peppermint oil is extracted from the peppermint herb and has a minty aroma that is cooling and rejuvenating. Peppermint oil is rich in Omega-3s, iron, magnesium, calcium, Vitamins A and C, minerals, potassium, manganese and copper. With all these vital nutrients, it’s no wonder that peppermint oil is so beneficial for your skin.

Benefit #1 – Peppermint Oil Brightens Your Skin

Peppermint oil has natural menthol properties, which helps to cool and brighten your skin. You’ll feel refreshed and look luminous!

Benefit #2 – Peppermint Oil Controls Acne

Peppermint oil works to control the secretions of excess oil and prevents clogged pores and acne outbreaks.

Benefit #3 – Peppermint Oil Reduces Itching and Irritation

Peppermint oil has a naturally pain-relieving effect and it is also naturally anti-inflammatory. Because of this, it is helpful for reducing irritation related to poison ivy, insect bites, toxic plants, or allergies. You should always dilute peppermint essential oil with some lotion or a carrier oil, or use peppermint oil in a soap or pre-blended lotion.

Benefit #4 – Peppermint Oil Can Reduce Headaches

Peppermint oil is an amazing way to get rid of a headache. It is naturally anti-inflammatory and can banish tension headaches reled to stiffness, swelling, muscle aches, etc,.

Benefit #5 -Peppermint Oil Can Clear Sinuses

Peppermint oil is a natural anti-histamine and as such can help to clear clogged sinuses related to allergies. It can also help to reduce congestion from colds.

Where To Find Peppermint Oil

You can find peppermint oil at your local health food store, or online. Here at Africa Imports, we sell peppermint essential oil wholesale and retail, depending on your needs. Get your own here! We also have just added a new peppermint oil soap that you can enjoy, you can see that here.

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NEW! Personal Care Retail Catalog

64 pages of new and best selling soaps, healthcare, skin care, body oils, African herbal remedies and more. Use this essential business tool to get more customers and sales! Give some to your customers with your business card attached for faster sales. Hand them out at festivals or fairs or give some to friends and family. dbbe9fae-5615-451e-bc2e-22856a0dd66fClick here for easy page-turning version

This Personal Care retail catalog is currently being printed. However, Africa Imports gives you FREE access to catalogs to give to your customers now. Available with retail prices and without prices to fit your needs!
Click here for free printable version with retail prices
Click here for free printable version with no prices

Click here to find out HOW TO START YOUR OWN BUSINESS selling African products!

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Traditional Print Fashions!

Africa traditional print has been a staple in the African American culture for centuries and has recently begun to make a huge comeback! Africa Imports has the huge selection of these hot sellers for men, women, and children. From dashikis to pants, dresses to bags, or even shorts (just to name a few), there are so many fun ways to show pride in the African heritage and be stylish, comfortable, and cool!
BeFunky Collage
(Pictured from top left to bottom right:)
C-WS437 – Traditional Print Short Halter Dress
C-C002 – Children’s Traditional Dashiki
C-U155 – Traditional Print Pocket Pants
C-U912 – Traditional Print Dashiki
C-A616 – Traditional Print Beauty-Bow Tote Bag
C-WS827 – Traditional Print Long Skirt

Click here to find even more style options at africaimports.com

Click here to find out HOW TO START YOUR OWN BUSINESS selling African products!

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NEW Wholesale Summer Catalog!

Africa Imports brings you the Summer 2016 wholesale catalog! This book is printing right now. A copy will be mailed to all of our customers directly from the printer. Mailing and delivery normally takes 1-2 weeks. But why wait? There are more than 200 new items! You can see it now and be ready for the summer first; just click here.

catalog2016Summer-wholesale-big
There are so many great products in this 144 page catalog. The new fashions, jewelry, artwork are perfect for festivals, street fairs, and all types of fun, summer events!
Click here for the easy page-turning version
Click here for downloadable versions of the catalog!

Click here to find out HOW TO START YOUR OWN BUSINESS selling African products!

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How to Find the Essential Oil That’s Right For You

There are so many essential oils to choose from that it can be hard to figure out which one to pick! Plus, what are the benefits of each of them? You can read through long descriptions of all their uses, or you can use this handy visual infographic to easily pick out the right essential for you! We hope this helps!

If you’d like to see a huge selection of premium-quality essential oils on our web site, just Click Here.

How to Choose the Right Essential Oil

If you’d like to see a huge selection of premium-quality essential oils on our web site, just Click Here.

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