BY CHERYL V. JACKSON
The women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority really know how to get dolled up -- and focus on business.
They'll show that this week when they hit Washington, D.C., about 35,000 strong, for their biennial convention and get a look at one of their newest members: Barbie.
Mattel Inc. created the limited-edition AKA Centennial Barbie, the first Barbie based on any sorority.
The doll, outfitted in a pink and green evening gown, matching jeweled shoes and gold jewelry, honors the Chicago-headquartered sorority, the first established by black women.
The sorority has inducted about 200,000 members -- including actress Phylicia Rashad, educator Marva Collins and author Toni Morrison -- since its founding at Howard University in 1908.
The AKA Barbie has some company. Another business, the Sisterhood Boutique, last year modeled a collectible doll on the sorority. That creation, the $125 Ivy Rose (http://www.sisterhoodboutique.com/), made its way into official gift bags for celebrity presenters at the Grammy Awards in February.
The Mattel doll will sell for $50 through the Barbie Collector catalog, the Barbie Collector.com Web site and retailers. The sorority gets a percentage of the sales.
Mattel isn't the only company eager to work with AKA. Among the sorority's other recent corporate deals:
• Converse has designed shoes for Alpha Kappa Alpha and five other black Greek-letter organizations and will sponsor a march at the AKA convention.
• Chase last year gave AKA more than $100,000 to support an African-American home ownership initiative.
• DNA tracing firm African Ancestry Inc. has partnered with the group.
The sorority expects its members to drop more than $100 million in Washington during the weeklong convention, which kicks off Friday.
Photo Credit: Chicago Sun-Times