11-Year-Old Owner Of Black-Owned Doll Company Surprised With $10,000 Grant

11-Year-Old Owner Of Black-Owned Doll Company Surprised With $10,000 Grant

Zoe Oli, a young entrepreneur from the suburbs of Georgia, received a special surprise, thanks to Verizon.

Oli, the co-owner of Beautiful Curly Me, received an unexpected $10,000 grant during a recent episode of the local TV show Atlanta & Company, The Atlanta Voice reported. During the interview at the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs, Oli and her mom and business partner, Evana Oli, were taken aback when former Atlanta Hawks guard Lou Williams walked out to present them with the generous check from Verizon’s Small Business Digital Ready program and partner LISC.

The 11-year-old, who is the company’s CEO, has big plans for how the money will be spent. “I’m going to use every cent to expand my company, my social impact, and expand the line of dolls this Christmas,” Oli said.

Beautiful Curly Me is an Atlanta-based company that boasts three Black dolls named Bella, Anika, and Leyla. Customers can also purchase haircare for girls and their dolls, affirmation puzzles, clothes, and books authored by Zoe herself.

The company started when she was 7 years old and her mom bought her a Black doll. Zoe noticed something was missing: “I loved that doll but it didn’t have curly hair like mine,” she said. After Evana failed to find a doll that matched the one her inquisitive daughter requested, the mother-daughter duo decided to take matters into their own hands.

Since then, the company has soared to new heights. On May 3, 2023, Beautiful Curly Me placed third in the third annual Small Business Big Wins contest sponsored by Barclays US Consumer Bank, earning a $20,000 cash prize, as told by The Neighbor. The competition was fierce, with more than 14,000 companies participating, but Beautiful Curly Me was selected as a Top 10 finalist. “We got to see how much people really love and support us,” said Evana. “It was really heartwarming to know we have a true community around the brand and what it stands for.”

Oli has also adopted a philanthropic model for her business, saying that for every doll purchased on the website, one is provided to a little girl in need.