March Muses: how one Dragon’s Den business is tackling stereotypes head on with diverse Christmas decorations

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
March Muses are on a mission to make Christmas representative and inclusive

The founders of March Muses - a company which makes inclusive Christmas decorations inspired by powerful “Black excellence” – say it is an educational and inspiring process seeing the positive impact they have made in championing diversity.

Co-founders Natalie Duvall, 39, and Alison Burton, 50, both from Croydon, south London, insist conversations about race and ethnicity are more important than ever, and that it is now time for homes and spaces to reflect the world around us. In March 2019, they formed March Muses.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

What was the inspiration behind March Muses? 

The inspiration behind creating March Muses stemmed from creating the change they wanted to see for their daughters. Ms Burton told NationalWorld: “In the lead-up to Christmas 2018 we were searching for Black Christmas decorations for our trees and couldn’t find any in the UK. Natalie searched online but had no joy and I found one angel in Treasures in South Norwood, which the shop owner explained was a white angel that she had painted black!

Natalie Duvall and Alison Burton (AO-Photography)Natalie Duvall and Alison Burton (AO-Photography)
Natalie Duvall and Alison Burton (AO-Photography) | AO-Photography

“I purchased the Black angel for my tree and Natalie resorted to using a Black barbie doll in a sparkly dress as a tree topper. We identified a huge gap in the UK market and began designing our figurines in February 2019 and launched our products online in October 2019”.

Ms Duvall, who also serves as the company’s creative director, told PA news agency that a question asked by her seven-year-old daughter at the time Sophia while decorating the family Christmas tree in 2018 led to the birth of March Muses.

She asked: “Can Christmas angels have brown skin?”

Diverse Christmas decorations Diverse Christmas decorations
Diverse Christmas decorations | March Muses

Ms Duvall replied with: “Of course they can have brown skin. Why would you even ask such a question?” while they were hanging up white Santas, white elves on the shelf and white angels. And I was like, ah OK, this is why you think angels can’t have brown skin.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The name March Muses was chosen for its significance. Both Burton and Duvall were born in March and the word muse means to be inspired. When asked which product is their best seller, they told NationalWorld: “Our original Santa holding a gift is the MOST loved. He was the first bauble we made and remains a firm favourite. Also our Mariah tree topper is very popular. She’s comes in silver or gold and is just gorgeous.”

The belief behind March Muses is to help create a new generation of understanding and positive experiences amongst all communities. Ms Burton said: "We want these images to be normal and not a novelty. As our daily lives become more diverse at home, at school and at work, it’s important that we discuss diversity with our children, families, and friends to help create change and understanding. These decorations can help to facilitate those discussions.”

Were March Muses on Dragon’s Den?

The March Muses founders also appeared on Dragon’s Den in April 2022, where they secured investment from Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones. Dragon Den’s investor, Deborah Meadon, on why she invested in March Muses, said: “Alison and Natalie are both very capable and impressive and they raised an important point with their Christmas Decoration collection. It was one which resonated with me and one I believe would resonate with many people, opening up a new approach to a very traditional market.

"They are also open to working towards finding alternative materials to improve their sustainability. I’m very pleased to say sales are already booming and the product range has widely expanded.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Dragon Den’s investor, Peter Jones, on why he invested in March Muses: “This year, March Muses are ensuring that the way we shop for decorations is with purpose. Anyone who wants to assist in change for good should just go on their website to see their full range of diverse Christmas decorations. You’ll be blown away and will no doubt find something you love. It’s been great assisting these entrepreneurs in their journey and I look forward to supporting their continued growth.”

They told NationalWorld about their hopes for March Muses in the future: “We’d love to break America as we know they have products that are diverse, but none look like ours. There is still a tendency to have white Angels painted black with no thought about skin tone features or hair. We are trying to change that and bring a sense of authenticity into the space.

Diverse Christmas decorations Diverse Christmas decorations
Diverse Christmas decorations | March Muses

Customers have also provided “brilliant” feedback about the diverse range of products. They said: “The fact that now not just us, but our children and their friends and our community will have a choice when it comes to how they decorate this festive season is everything.

“We are raising the next changemakers and the next generation of CEOs and decision-makers. We are making these images normal and not a novelty and that is what matters. For such a long time Christmas was whitewashed not anymore. March Muses is here to celebrate diversity by diversifying celebrations”. March Muses’ decorations are available to buy at Selfridges and Liberty London or on the March Muses website.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.