Surprise Powerz

Kristel Bell Website
Retail Trade
Loop, Chicago, IL
Services utilized:
Group Coaching, Loans

Kristel Bell’s childhood was full of science fairs, coding classes, and STEM-related internships. Her mom, a computer scientist, made sure experience in STEM had a significant presence in her children’s upbringing.

As an adult, Kristel has held onto her passion for STEM education that her mother instilled in her. In 2016, Kristel, her mother, her sister, and a close friend founded Black Girls Movement, a nonprofit focused on helping Black girls gain equal access to STEM education.

For her work with Black Girls Movement, Kristel researched the issues Black girls face in STEM. “I really want to bridge this gap for Black girls, but also for all girls because there’s a disparity there,” Kristel said. “I figured if we’re always seeing girls with dolls, how can we infuse STEM learning and confidence through these dolls, and that’s how Surprise Powerz came about.”

Kristel started her doll company, Surprise Powerz, in 2021. Surprise Powerz currently produces four dolls, each dressed to represent a STEM profession. The talking dolls “say” over 75 STEM-related phrases.

“[By playing with these dolls,] I hope [young girls] can see themselves represented in STEM,” Kristel said. “I hope they know if they can see it, they can be it.”

This year, Kristel is partnering with, a nonprofit that distributes school supplies to classrooms, to provide Surprise Powerz dolls to Chicago Public School preschools.

In 2022, Kristel received a small business loan from Allies for Community Business, which helped her cover general expenses and put a down payment on her inventory. “[A4CB] has been very instrumental in helping me fulfill my orders with retailers,” Kristel said.

Kristel is currently participating in A4CB’s Neighborhood Entrepreneurship Lab, a program through which she is working with business coaches and strategists to create a line of digital books that tell each doll’s story and to develop a more robust marketing strategy.

“From a young age, whenever I saw STEM leaders, they did not look like me,” Kristel said. “I want to make sure that our young girls start seeing role models [that look like them and] are STEM leaders.”