‘When we would do our holiday shopping, we weren’t seeing anything that reflected us because it didn’t exist…’
Now, they’re selling gifts with images of Clarence Claus to other families who prioritize inclusion.
Clarence Claus started when Jackie Rodgers, 35, was trying to find “appropriate” Christmas wrapping paper for her son’s presents. She couldn’t find wrapping paper with an African–American Santa Claus, so she decided to design her own.
“When we would do our holiday shopping, we weren’t seeing anything that reflected us because it didn’t exist,” she said. “So I decided that we would create what we wanted to see.”
Jackie said it’s important for minority children, like her son, to feel included.
“It’s important for children to see images that look like them and reflect them,” she told People magazine. “If a kid has glasses, it’s important for them to see images of kids wearing glasses”
Jackie and her husband, Shaun, decided to make a business out of it and created a new company, Greentop Gifts.
“We filled orders out of the garage until Black Friday,” she said, adding that they had to hie a fulfillment company because the orders kept piling up. “It’s a good problem to have.”
Clarence Claus is now featured on gift tags, t-shirts, sweatshirts, baby onesies, baseball hats, mugs, and wrapping paper. Jackie said that more than 15,000 rolls of Clarence Claus wrapping paper have been sold around the world.
The Rodgers said thankful parents and grandparents have written them letters thanking them for creating an inclusive Santa Claus.
“I read the letters and think, ‘oh, we’re doing the right thing,’” she said, according to WRAL. “We had a hard time finding images that looked like us. We wanted to make sure that we had a Santa that’s brown, because representation is really important for all children to see.”