Bill Greening: Where is the Barbie Designer Now?

‘Black Barbie: A Documentary’ explores the history of the Barbie doll from a race and diversity angle and, in the process, reveals many creative minds central to the design and development of the dolls. The latest in a long line of talented designers from Mattel featured in the Netflix documentary is Bill Greening, whose passion for the dolls seems to exude from his very being. The Principal Designer for Barbie Signature at Mattel inspires curiosity regarding his journey of being the collector and creator he is today.

Bill Greening Turned his Hobby into a Dream Job

Hailing from Orange County, California, Bill Greening grew up with a strong liking for Barbie. His cousin had a large collection of dolls, and she would often play with him, capturing his imagination. He began collecting Barbies in 1988, at the age of 16, and even met Mattel’s co-founder, Ruth Handler, at a box signing after waiting an hour in line. He presented the inventor with his designs for the doll and recalled that she was very gracious. Having realized his interest area, Greening pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Design from California State University, Long Beach.

After working for nearly a decade at Pier 1 ImportsPier, a home decor company, the Barbie collector built up the courage to apply for his dream job as a designer at Mattel. His designing talent and passion for the brand shone through, and Greening landed the job in April 2000. The Orange County native steadily rose through the ranks of the company over the decade until he became the Principal Designer for Barbie Signature in 2010. With his profound interest in all things Barbie, Greening was also designated the Barbie Brand Historian. His insights are paramount in ensuring brand continuity and verifying past details. His contributions to Barbie have helped modernize and diversify the brand, making it more inclusive and representative of different cultures and body types.

Bill Greening’s Passion for Barbie Remains Evergreen

Bill Greening continues to lead the design team at Mattel, focusing on Barbie Signature. Now in his 50s, he resides in Long Beach, California, and often takes his team out to sites of cultural history, such as the John Waters exhibit in December 2023. Under his leadership, the designs for new collector dolls are decided up to two years in advance. He remains dedicated to pushing the boundaries of what Barbie can represent, ensuring the doll’s relevance in a rapidly changing world. His work emphasizes inclusivity and cultural representation, with the first doll representing a person with Down Syndrome debuting in 2023.

Greening’s tireless work at Mattel has done little to stem his love for collecting all manner of Barbie dolls and merch. The enthusiast has more than 500 Barbies in his personal collection, which is meticulously maintained in a special Barbie room at his house in Long Beach. Like many Barbie collectors, his most prized doll is the first Barbie ever released, with a black and white striped bathing suit, golden hair, and blue eyeshadow.

Greening’s collection features Barbies from every era, and he is a proud member of the Barbie collector community, which also serves as a source of inspiration for him. “I think just interacting with other people that are passionate about Barbie is also inspiring because it might spark an idea,” he said in an interview. “Ideas come from everywhere.” He also revealed that living in Long Beach, with the sea so close by, imbues him with California sensibility, which makes its way into his creations.

The Lead Designer Lives a Well-Rounded Life

In addition to his professional endeavors, Bill Greening enjoys a wholesome personal life. He is passionate about travel and often seeks inspiration from different cultures and environments, which he incorporates into his designs. A member of the LGBTQ+ community, the designer is in a long-term relationship with Charles Jensen, a writer. The two love to travel together and most recently visited Milan, Italy, in May 2024 for the Italian Doll Convention.

Charles is very proud of his boyfriend’s achievements and often shows them off to his followers on social media. When they visited Milan, he took to Instagram and wrote, “I’m so proud of Bill. The Venn diagram of his passion and his work is a circle. Getting to see him be celebrated by his collector community was a joy from the moment we stepped foot in Milan until the moment we said goodbye.” Greening is also a friend of Black Barbie creator Kitty Black Perkins, who was his senior before she retired from Mattel in 2003. The two usually meet at Barbiecon and will reunite once again at the convention in July 2024.

Greening also seems to share heartwarming relationships with old friends and family members. On Father’s Day 2024, he revealed that his dear departed dad had supported his Barbie-collecting hobby since childhood and would take him shopping for dolls even when his mother refused to. Besides his close circle, the designer frequently meets celebrities as his work often entails having them model for and inspire new Barbies. As such, he has developed friendships with stars like Kylie Minogue, Stevie Nicks, and Tina Turner on the road to turning them into Barbie dolls. Greening works his dream job while maintaining heartwarming relationships and bearing the torch of an increasingly inclusive brand.

Read More: Stacey McBride-Irby: The Barbie Designer is Now a Diversity Consultant