Pleasant Rowland’s profile picture

Pleasant Rowland

Pleasant Rowland’s profile picture
Net worth 2018: $310 Million
Industry: Other
Residence: Madison, Wisconsin
Country: United States
Education: Bachelor of Arts / Science, Wells College

Pleasant Rowland was born in Madison, Wisconsin, United States. Unable to find dolls for her nieces, Pleasant Rowland started the American Girl doll company at age 45. A successful textbook author, Rowland funded the venture with $1.2 million she'd saved from royalties. Rowland built it into a $300 million (sales) business and sold it to Mattel in 1998 for $700 million. She has given away millions, in part to revitalize Aurora, New York, home of her alma mater Wells College. Her Rowling Reading Foundation provides curriculum materials and helps train teachers.


$300 Million


$300 Million


$310 Million


$310 Million

I broke a lot of rules because I didn't know the rules.

Pleasant Rowland
Pleasant Rowland (born Pleasant Williams Thiele, in Chicago, Ill, circa 1941) is an American educator, reporter, writer, entrepreneur and philanthropist. Rowland is best known for creating the American Girl brand. She is also notable for her efforts to redevelop historic properties in Aurora, New York, where she created a partnership with her alma mater Wells College.She has been married to philanthropist Jerome Frautschi since 1977. Frautschi's family owns Webcrafters printing company.Rowland was born in the Chicago area and grew up in Bannockburn, a suburb north of Chicago. She is the oldest of three sisters and a brother. Her sister Barbara Whitney Carr is president of the Chicago Horticultural Society. Her father was Edward Thiele, a Chicago advertising executive who eventually became president of the Leo Burnett ad agency.After graduating from Wells College in 1962, Rowland embarked on the first of several careers. From 1962 to 1968, she was a schoolteacher in several states. She was a news reporter and anchor for the ABC station KGO-TV from 1968 to 1971.Rowland left that industry to pursue a career as a textbook writer. For several years she was involved in writing and publishing children's textbooks. She was also the publisher of the Children's Magazine Guide. In the 1970s, Rowland created a comprehensive language arts program, called Beginning to Read, Write, and Listen. It was informally known as the "letterbooks", and designed to be used for kindergarten and first grade students. Through the years the program has undergone several revisions and updates.In 1986 Rowland founded the Pleasant Company, which manufactures the "American Girl" dolls, books and accessories. Rowland was inspired to create the American Girl brand because of her longstanding interest in history. A visit to Colonial Williamsburg led her to think that young girls might become interested in history through identifying with dolls based on historic periods. Each doll is designed with a story that places it in a specific historical time period. Books, clothing and other accessories are marketed separately for each doll.The company's growth was rapid as it added dolls, books, clothing for dolls and girls, and numerous other accessories, such as dollhouses and children's furniture. In marketing synergy, her company created stores in major cities, events, and films planned around the dolls and their accessories. For instance, parents may pay to reserve space at stores for American Girl parties for their daughters and friends. Stores have public restaurants where mothers and daughters can have tea or other meals.In 1998 Rowland sold the Pleasant Company (now American Girl) to Mattel for $700 million. Based in Middleton, Wisconsin, American Girl reached $350 million in sales in 2001. As of 2008, its US sales were second only to the Barbie doll.In 2001 Rowland purchased bankrupt retailer MacKenzie-Childs, based in Aurora, NY. After Rowland restructured the company's management team in 2006, MacKenzie-Childs became profitable. In 2008 Rowland sold MacKenzie-Childs to Lee Feldman and Howard Cohen – part owners of Twin Lakes Capital.In 2004 Rowland founded Rowland Reading Foundation to promote the Rowland Reading Program.On September 22, 2010 Rowland received an Honorary Doctoral Degree of Humane Letters from Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin.Rowland and husband Jerome Frautschi are major philanthropists in Madison, Wisconsin. Frautschi is from the Madison area, where his family has been based for several generations.They have made substantial contributions to Madison; together, they made one of the largest single contributions, a $205 million gift to build the Overture Center for the Arts, a performing arts and civic center. Originally, their donation was anonymous; later, the donor was revealed to be Jerome Frautschi. (Frautschi is said to have financed the project wholly with personal funds from the sale of his stock in American Girl.)
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