By Megan Sayles,
AFRO Business Writer,
When Darius Bridges was 12 years old, his art teacher assigned an origami project to his class. A friend taught the Maryland native how to make an origami puppy, and after turning it in, he aced the assignment.
Since he enjoyed the project so much, Bridges continued making more origami puppies at home, giving them faces, colors, spots and even their own backstories and personalities.
Unbeknownst to him, this adolescent hobby would transform into a full-fledged business.
Now 25, Bridges is the creator behind Personality Pups, a children’s brand that features 12 animated puppies who have their own unique personalities.
The brand provides youth with educational videos and engaging activities aligned with school subjects, like mathematics, language arts, social studies and science. It also helps them develop their imagination and creativity.
“We’ve been trying to teach joy, friendship and loyalty, and we also have a scholastic section where we’re teaching education,” said Bridges. “We really just want to teach kids how to best look at different personalities and different emotions and learn how to relate with them.”
Bridges has had an interest in the arts since he was a child, a trait he thinks he inherited from his family and Caribbean background. His maternal grandfather was a painter, and his paternal grandfather had a knack for calligraphy, while his mother was a minister of music and worship pastor.
While designing Personality Pups, Bridges realized that children can have turbulent emotions. Through each puppy’s distinct personality, he wanted to teach them how to navigate negative emotions and how to turn them into strengths.
“I thought that this was a way for kids to understand that even conventionally bad emotions, like being grumpy or a fighter, don’t have to be bad. You can find positive things in everything and learn how to also deal with them and not let them take over who you are as a kid” said Bridges.
“I think that’s something that should really be focused on for children because a lot of children go through so many different things. To have something that can say, ‘Here’s why you might be feeling this, here’s what you’re going through,’ I thought, was just a really cool idea.”
Bridges has penned four books under the Personality Pups brand and launched a Youtube channel that offers nursery rhyme and educational music videos. Personality Pups also recently launched its non-fungible token (NFTs) collection, P-Pup Nation, which includes 12,000 digital art NFTs based around each puppy.
As the brand grows, Bridges said he would like to produce a show about the Personality Pups and create scholarships for youth.
“We have a lot of struggles dealing with how we feel, especially being from different communities. Whether it’s based off of race, background, gender or something else, you’re taught how to act in specific ways, ‘You do feel this, you don’t feel that. You do express this, you don’t express that,’” said Bridges.
“I think having something that can help people learn how to have emotional intelligence at a young age can really assist kids, young adults and adults in learning how to understand not only themselves but also how to understand others. That’s something we don’t see all the time in this world, so I think that’s something that would be amazing to grow.”
Megan Sayles is a Report for America corps member.
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