Barbie has made a lot of headlines over the last few weeks due to the massive success of the movie, but before the movie launched, Barbara Lakin had been giving discarded Barbies makeovers.

Lakin spends hours in her East Village studio making clothes and cleaning the dolls up to give to migrant children who live in the city’s shelter system.

What You Need To Know

  • Barbara Lakin designs clothes and cleans up discarded Barbie dolls to give to migrant children who live in the city’s shelter system

  • It started with one doll, now dozens

  • Most of the Barbie dolls donated are white. Lakin said it’s difficult to find discarded dolls to rehab that look more like the migrants

"It's just, they love them,” Lakin said. It takes about two hours to complete a new outfit.

"I find a few suitable shirts, and then I will probably do a few at a time,” Lakin said. It started with one doll, now dozens.

“Some of the dolls are really kind of, they look like they’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards. They are really disheveled. They have crazy hair. It's all matted,” Lakin said. Most of the Barbies donated are white dolls.

“My biggest concern is that we're giving these blond Barbies to mainly Hispanic girls, and it's just not right,” she said.

Plenty of Barbies with different skin tones and hair colors exist, but she said it’s difficult to find them.

Lakin hopes more diverse dolls start filtering in to the donations and garage sales. She is as meticulous about finding the perfect child as she is in the creative process.

Lakin gives away the dolls through Team TLC’s migrant relief donation center in Bryant Park. That’s where she looks for daddy-daughter duos to personally deliver the dolls, along with another gift, a matching shirt for dad from the material used to make the Barbie's dress.

"I think anything they know that has a personal touch makes a huge difference,” Lakin said.

Lakin said she doesn’t accept any money for her meticulous work or gifts.

The reward is evident in the comfort and smiles the refurbished Barbies provide to these new New Yorkers.