Zoe Oli, 9, the CEO of Beautiful Curly Me, shared the inspiration behind her Black doll line in conversation with Meta’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg on Monday.
Beautiful Curly Me sells 18-inch dolls with curly or braided hair. The dolls, named Leyla and Anika, are offered in different skin tones. The company also provides hair care and empowering books for young girls written by Zoe.
Zoe received a $4,000 grant from Meta as part of its $100 million investment in Black-owned small businesses. The Beautiful Curly Me CEO plans to launch a podcast and write more books in the future.
“Not only is she beautiful with her curly hair, but she’s anatomically correct. This is a real girl,” Sandberg said. “You are helping girls feel good about their hair, their skin and their bodies. That is so wonderfully important.”
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Zoe’s vision has helped empower hundreds of girls to love themselves. Through an initiative launched by Beautiful Curly Me, the company donates one doll to a girl in need for every doll purchased. To date, they’ve donated 733 dolls.
“It all started when I was 6 years old, and I did not like my hair,” Zoe told Sandberg on Instagram Live. “I wished my hair was straight like my classmates.”
Zoe said her mother, Evana Oli, tried to make her feel better by buying her a Black doll, but she didn’t find any comfort because the doll’s hair was straight and silky. So, she told her mother she wanted to start a business, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“I was taken aback,” Evana said during the interview. “She was 6 years old.”
“About 66% of the world has curly hair,” Evana said. “We really want to go global with this brand. Zoe has huge dreams and aspirations.”
Zoe’s advice to aspiring business owners is to “Get started. Done is better than perfect.”
“A lot of people think it has to be the perfect time to start. But if you wait for that, you are going to wait forever,” she said.