Zoe Oli, Beautiful Curly Me
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia, it’s time for GWBC Radio’s Open for Business. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:18] Lee Kantor here, broadcasting live from the 2022 WBENC National Conference inside the GWBC booth, booth 1812, so come by and see us. So excited. Been waiting all day for this interview. Zoe Olie.
Zoe Olie: [00:00:18] Olie.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:33] Olie. Close, close. 50/50 chance. Sorry, I screwed it up. Zoe Olie with Beautiful Curly Me. Welcome, Zoe.
Zoe Olie: [00:00:42] Thank you for having me.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:44] So excited. For our listeners who can’t see, Zoe is a little younger than some of the folks we have had here and I haven’t asked anybody their age, but I’m going to ask you yours. How old are you, Zoe?
Zoe Olie: [00:00:54] I am 10.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:56] Ten years old, and you are a certified women-owned business.
Zoe Olie: [00:01:00] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:01] Congratulations on that.
Zoe Olie: [00:01:02] Thank you.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:03] What made you get certified?
Zoe Olie: [00:01:07] Because I own—I am the CEO and co-founder with my mom, Ivana, of Beautiful Curly Me, which is my company. And Beautiful Curly Me is a brand on a mission to instill and inspire confidence in young Black and Brown girls through toys and empowering content. And we are also a social impact brand, so for every dollar that’s bought on our website, beautifulcurlyme.com, we give one to a young girl in need.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:36] Very nice. So, now, what was—how did the idea come about?
Zoe Olie: [00:01:40] So, when I was six years old, I did not-
Lee Kantor: [00:01:42] Way back then.
Zoe Olie: [00:01:43] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:43] That was four years ago. That was forever.
Zoe Olie: [00:01:47] So, when I was six, I did not like my hair and I wished it was straight, like my classmates. And so, my mom did everything she could to help me, including getting me a Black doll. And I really like that doll, but she did not have hair that looked like mine, and I still did not feel good about myself because of that. And so, when my mom went back to the stores and came up short, I decided I wanted to start my own business and do something about this.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:12] And the business is dolls with curly hair?
Zoe Olie: [00:02:15] Yes. So, we have a line of dolls, Layla and Mika, with curls and braids, and we also sell the books that I have written, as well as puzzles and haircare accessories.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:26] So, having an idea, and then having a doll are two different things. So, what did that first doll—how did you kind of create that first doll?
Zoe Olie: [00:02:36] Well, we did a lot of research, because my mom did not know anything about the doll or toy manufacturing.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:41] What about you? You’re the doll person. Your mom probably doesn’t have a lot of dolls, I would guess.
Zoe Olie: [00:02:47] No, not really.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:48] I bet you have more.
Zoe Olie: [00:02:50] Yes, I did.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:50] I want to know about your dolls. How did you say I want the doll to look like this, I want it to have this kind of dress, I want it to have this kind of a face? How did that happen?
Zoe Olie: [00:03:01] Well, I knew that I wanted a doll with curly and relatable hair, so we first decided the texture of hair we wanted. We decided the skin color as well. And then, we decided about the outfit, which we were all about affirmations and being proud of who you are. So, we chose curly and confident as like our kind of statement.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:25] That’s your catchphrase?
Zoe Olie: [00:03:25] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:26] Curly and confident.
Zoe Olie: [00:03:27] And so, that’s actually on the doll’s t-shirt.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:29] Do you have t-shirts that I can buy that say curly and confident? My hair gets very curly. It doesn’t look curly now, but it will get curly.
Zoe Olie: [00:03:38] We actually do have women’s t-shirts on sale on our website, beautifulcurlyme.com.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:44] Alright. Beautifulcurlyme.com. We’ll get a shirt hopefully in my size at some point. So, when you’re doing this kind of work, and you think about, oh, I’d like to have a doll, and you design the doll, did you look at—how did you tell the person to make it? Like did your mom make the first doll or did you make it? Did you sew a doll like or do you go and get—where do you go to get dolls?
Zoe Olie: [00:04:10] Well, we looked online for a supplier in China who currently helps us make and manufacture the dolls to us. And then, we also found someone to get our boxes, as well as all the other things that the doll comes with.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:26] But isn’t that the fun part, saying, picking, I like that, I don’t like this? Did you have fun doing that?
Zoe Olie: [00:04:31] Yes, I actually did have fun. We had a lot of trial and error.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:35] Did you have your friends help? Did you all get together, and go, okay, do you like this? I don’t know, I like this one better.
Zoe Olie: [00:04:41] Well, it was mostly me and my mom. We had a lot of conversations of what we liked about the dolls, and we continued to have a lot of strategy.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:50] Yeah, your way or did she get her way?
Zoe Olie: [00:04:54] I think we both compromised, and we also—our customers send us a lot of feedback, so we use that as well to continue to grow our business.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:05] So, what’s your favorite part?
Zoe Olie: [00:05:07] My favorite part is probably the reviews that we get and the customers saying they love our products.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:12] Not the money?
Zoe Olie: [00:05:15] Well, most of the money we get goes back into the business, but I do enjoy seeing the fruits of my labor and all the revenue that we receive.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:24] You don’t have to be embarrassed about it. There’s nothing wrong with, when that money comes in, you’re like, oh, I can buy more dolls, I can help more people, right?
Zoe Olie: [00:05:33] Yeah.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:33] The more money that comes in, the more people you can help and get more dolls to more folks.
Zoe Olie: [00:05:37] Exactly.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:38] So, what was it like when you gave that first doll to a child in need? How did you feel?
Zoe Olie: [00:05:45] I felt very empowered and I just like to see all that other little kids look up to me who want to start a business, and looking at this doll, really, a mark of confidence to them is just really empowering.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:03] So, has some kid come up to you, and saw you like a celebrity, asked for your autograph? Does that happen?
Zoe Olie: [00:06:09] Actually, no.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:10] Not yet?
Zoe Olie: [00:06:11] Not yet.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:12] So, I’ll be the first person to ask for your autograph?
Zoe Olie: [00:06:14] Yes.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:15] Okay. Good to know. So, now, what advice would you give other kids that are going to start a business? And they have dreams, a lot of kids have dreams, oh, I wish I had this, I wish this could happen, wishing and doing are different things.
Zoe Olie: [00:06:29] I would say, number 1, don’t be afraid to fail up. And again, there are always people that are there to help you along the way, your parents, teachers, counselors, and there are always people that are willing to help you and support you along your journey. Yeah.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:48] So, with the right team, you could do anything, right?
Zoe Olie: [00:06:51] Exactly.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:52] And you feel like you got a good team?
Zoe Olie: [00:06:54] Yes. And one more thing, always don’t be afraid to get started. I like to say don’t wait for the perfect wave, just swim. So, don’t be afraid, if you’re waiting for the perfect time, just get started.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:09] So, is that coming on a t-shirt soon?
Zoe Olie: [00:07:12] Maybe.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:12] Maybe.
Zoe Olie: [00:07:13] I’ll keep you posted.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:14] Keep me posted. And the website one more time?
Zoe Olie: [00:07:17] Beautifulcurlyme.com. And we also have Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Twitter @beautifulcurlyme.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:26] Alright. Well, thank you so much for sharing your story today, Zoe.
Zoe Olie: [00:07:29] Thank you for having me.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:30] Alright. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Zoe Olie: [00:07:33] Yes. Thank you.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:34] Alright. This is Lee Kantor. We will see you in a few at the WBENC National Conference 2022 inside the boot of GWBC.
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