Meet Our Founder
Ananse Design Essentials in the brainchild and labor of love for Dr. LaShawnda Lindsay-Dennis, the Crafty Ph.D. a formally trained African-centered educational psychologist, mental health counselor, and social scientist. In 2013, LaShawnda discovered her natural talent for "making" and merged it with her knowledge of and love for West African art and culture. Ever since then, she has constantly evolved as a maker, artist, entrepreneur, scholar, craftswoman, and activist.
With deep devotion, LaShawnda has vigorously accepted the call to enhance the well-being and lives of Black girls globally. Her wide array of research over the past decade has created a platform that sheds light on the social determinants, racial injustices, and cultural biases that burden the progression and viability of Black women. This devotion not only emerges in her scholarly work as well as her craftswomanship.
A native of Jacksonville Florida, LaShawnda developed an early zest for learning and creating and making things at an early age. However, her creativity laid doormat until adulthood. Stricken by personal experiences, observations, and countless research, she focused most of her energy on excelling academically and using her knowledge to make a difference that would last for generations, especially in the areas of individual and communities marginalized due to their culture, race, ethnicity gender and socioeconomic status. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Morris Brown College, LaShawnda obtained her master’s degree in Educational Psychology from Howard University, and a doctorate in Educational Psychology from Georgia State University. She also earned a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies from Georgia State University. To make a more direct impact on individuals, she earned second master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Georgia Regents University in 2015. She served as a college professor over seven years and is currently a research scientist at Wellesley Centers for Women. In 2015, she was recognized by The Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Augusta Magazine, as one of ten of Augusta’s most outstanding young professionals. She is also the founder of Black Girls Matter, a social media campaign to bring awareness to issues that Black girls face in global society.
The Craft Doctor is a life-long learner and teacher. She has not received any formal training to create and produce the products for Ananse Design Essentials. She is self-taught craftswoman that creates each Ananse Design Essentials item from start to finish. LaShawnda is currently working to integrate her scholarly work with her entrepreneurial skills by creating products that seek to the uplift Black women and girls and most importantly create opportunities for girls to embrace their natural talents, learn STEM skills, and launch into their dreams.