Pleasant Rowland Net Worth: Insights into the American Entrepreneur’s Fortune

Discover our guide looking at Pleasant Rowland net worth and find out the secrets to her success.

Pleasant Rowland, the innovative mind behind the American Girl doll company, built an empire out of her unique and endearing creation. Originally a school teacher, writer, and reporter, Rowland found her entrepreneurial calling when she struggled to find suitable dolls for her nieces. 

Rowland’s success inspires me as she built her company from the ground up, funding the business with earnings she made as a textbook writer. Taking matters into her own hands, she founded American Girl in 1986 with $1.2m of royalties she earned as a textbook author and saw it grow into a phenomenon that would eventually contribute to a significant net worth.

As of 2023, Pleasant Rowland is one of the richest writers and has an estimated net worth of $350 million. The company she created, American Girl, became widely successful, reaching $300 million in sales before selling it to Mattel for $700 million in 1998. 

With a range of dolls catering to various historical periods, accompanied by stories and educational materials, her creations continually capture the imaginations of young girls, solidifying her fortune as a self-made woman in the entrepreneurial world.

Early Life and Career

Pleasant Rowland net worth
Pleasant Rowland started the American Girl doll company to create dolls that celebrated American history and inspired young girls

Pleasant Rowland was born on March 8, 1941. She began her career as an educator, teaching in several states across the United States. Her background in education laid the foundation for her later successes in business and philanthropy.

In 1968, Rowland transitioned from teaching to a news anchor and reporter for KGO-TV, a local ABC station. She worked at the station until 1971, sharpening her communication skills and gaining valuable experience in the media industry. This experience would later prove pivotal in launching her entrepreneurial venture.

The idea for the American Girl doll company came to fruition in 1986 when Rowland could not find appropriate dolls for her nieces. Drawing on her educational background and understanding of the media industry, she started the company to create dolls that celebrated American history and inspired young girls. Inspired by this story? Read our best books for entrepreneurs to build your own business.

The company’s success was swift, with American Girl reaching $350 million in sales in 2003. By 2008, its US sales were second only to the iconic Barbie doll. Rowland’s venture proved lucrative, with her net worth now estimated to be around $350 million.

Throughout her career, Rowland has also been an active philanthropist, focusing on education and the arts. This dedication to giving back can be seen in her marriage to Jerome Frautschi, a fellow philanthropist, since 1977. The couple’s combined passions for entrepreneurship, education, and philanthropy have cemented Pleasant Rowland’s esteemed legacy.

Creation of American Girl

Success and Growth

“My pen flew as I tried to capture the idea that was just given to me—whole. This was my business plan!” 

Pleasant Rowland, A New Twist on Timeless Toys

In 1986, Pleasant Rowland founded The Pleasant Company, later known for creating the American Girl brand. The main products of this company were dolls, books, and accessories. All focused on capturing the imagination of young girls with an interest in history. Rowland was driven to create the American Girl brand because of her love for history and her desire to provide age-appropriate dolls for her nieces.

Rowland successfully built the American Girl brand into a company with $300 million in sales by 1998. That same year, she sold the company to Mattel for $700 million, a clear indication of the brand’s massive growth and popularity during the years she managed it.

Criticism and Controversy

Despite the undeniable success of the American Girl brand, it has faced its fair share of criticism and controversy. Some critics argue that the dolls perpetuated stereotypes or historical inaccuracies. Additionally, there may have been concerns regarding the impact of the dolls’ prices on accessibility for a wider range of customers.

Regardless of the criticisms, Pleasant Rowland’s creation of the American Girl brand is a testament to her entrepreneurial spirit, drive, and vision. Her efforts have shaped the childhoods of countless young girls and left an indelible mark on the history of doll-making and children’s literature. 

Pleasant Company Sale to Mattel

In 1998, Mattel acquired Pleasant Rowland’s successful American Girl doll company, also known as Pleasant Company, in a deal worth $700 million. Founded in 1985, the Pleasant Company quickly gained popularity in the United States as a manufacturer of children’s dolls, books, and accessories. The American Girl dolls allowed girls to engage with historical characters and stories through the dolls and accompanying literature.

After the acquisition, Pleasant Company continued to operate as an autonomous unit under Mattel, maintaining its Wisconsin facilities. Pleasant Rowland, the company’s founder, remained involved as the company’s president after the sale.

As an educator, writer, and entrepreneur, Pleasant Rowland’s net worth is estimated at $350 million as of 2023. Her vision and dedication to creating a unique product for young girls to develop their imaginations and understanding of history played a significant role in selling her company to Mattel and the growth of her wealth.

Philanthropy and Other Ventures

Overture Center for the Arts in Madison
Rowland’s philanthropic work extends to the art world and made a meaningful donation of $205 million towards the construction of the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison

Pleasant Rowland, best known for creating the American Girl brand, has an incredible net worth of approximately $350 million. Besides her entrepreneurship journey, Rowland has significantly impacted the philanthropic landscape.

In 1998, Rowland and her husband, Jerome Frautschi, established the charitable foundation The Rowland Reading Foundation. This organization aimed to improve reading instructions and student achievement in the early grades. They generously donated numerous resources to help support K-5 educators in teaching reading and writing.

Apart from education-based initiatives, Rowland is also a significant contributor to cultural and environmental preservation efforts. In her hometown, Madison, Wisconsin, she undertook a remarkable project to preserve and renovate historic buildings on State Street. Her vision was to revitalize the area and maintain the city’s unique architectural charm.

Additionally, Rowland’s philanthropic work extends to the art world. She and her husband made a meaningful donation of $205 million towards the construction of the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison. This state-of-the-art facility is crucial in fostering arts and culture throughout the city.

Throughout her career, Pleasant Rowland has demonstrated a keen interest in giving back to society, whether through education, historic preservation, or arts and culture. Her diverse ventures underline her commitment to enhancing communities and creating a lasting impact.

Current Net Worth

Pleasant Rowland, the founder of the American Girl doll company, has achieved immense success as an entrepreneur, educator, and writer. As of June 2023, her net worth is estimated at around $350 million.

Rowland started the American Girl doll company in 1986 when she struggled to find dolls for her nieces. The dolls, designed to cater to young girls during their formative years, rapidly gained popularity and contributed significantly to Rowland’s wealth. Besides her entrepreneurial venture, Rowland has also earned from her writing and reporting career.

Born on March 8, 1941, Pleasant Rowland is married to Jerome Frautschi, and they’ve been together since 1977. Although her primary source of wealth comes from her business ventures, Rowland has consistently maintained a strong net worth from various other endeavors.

Rowland’s success story reflects her ability to identify gaps in the market and cater to the needs of her target audience. Her dedication and hard work have also helped her maintain her high net worth, making her one of the wealthiest self-made women in America today.


Pleasant Rowland, an American educator, writer, reporter, and entrepreneur, has made a significant impact in the world of children’s products and literature. Her net worth has been reported to be around $310 million to $350 million as of 2023.

Rowland’s astounding success can be attributed to her creation of the American Girl brand, which led her to become one of America’s most successful women entrepreneurs. It is evident that her passion for education and storytelling played a significant role in achieving such a high net worth. While many people may view writing as a challenging career path, Pleasant Rowland has demonstrated that success can be achieved through hard work, determination, and innovation. Her journey serves as an inspiration to aspiring writers and entrepreneurs everywhere. Take inspiration from Rowland’s success and begin your own journey by listening to the best business audiobooks!