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entrepreneur Zoe Oli

12-year-old entrepreneur Zoe Oli lifts up other girls.

entrepreneur Zoe Oli

From toys to an accelerator program, entrepreneur Zoe Oli is helping other girls succeed.
From toys to an accelerator program, entrepreneur Zoe Oli is helping other girls succeed.

When Zoe Oli was 6, she did not like her curly hair and wished it was straight like her classmates. Her mom, Evana, searched for a black girl doll to boost her self-esteem but couldn’t find one featuring curls or braids like Zoe’s. So Zoe decided to make her own. A year later, in 2019, she launched Beautiful Curly Me, a brand to inspire confidence in brown and black girls with relatable dolls. The young entrepreneur’s dolls and growing array of products, from puzzles to storybooks, are now available online as well as at Macy’s and Learning Express in Buckhead, and are expected to be part of a Target launch later this year.

Zoe’s favorite part about running a business is helping others. “I launched the doll line so girls can see themselves positively reflected,” Zoe says. “When parents tell me their girls love the dolls and feel better about themselves, that’s the best part.”

The books that followed the doll launch had the same self-boosting purpose, including affirmations telling girls they are beautiful and can do anything they put their minds to. A series of books will come out sometime this year to complement a new line of dolls that have different passions, such as entrepreneurship and performing/visual arts, to show girls they can be anything they want to be. With every doll sold, Beautiful Curly Me gives a doll to a girl in need.

Of course, combining the role of CEO with seventh grade and extracurricular activities such as tennis, track, piano and theater, is no easy feat. “My mom helps me balance my time. She holds down the fort while I’m at school, but I am heavily involved with the business side of things. I’m in all of the meetings I can be in and know the day-to-day and behind-the scenes [happenings].”

The biggest lesson the Olis learned through starting their brand is that some form of help is always out there. “When we began, we were on our own with Google research. Now, we’re part of a lot of industry organizations and have mentors who guide and help,” Zoe says.

Paying their good fortune forward, last summer Zoe and her mom launched Youth Mean Business (, a week-long growth accelerator for entrepreneurs ages 11 to 17 that includes mentorship and coaching. “This is important to me because, as I’ve grown, I’ve noticed there aren’t a lot of resources for kids who have already started a business,” Zoe says. “We want to help raise the next generation of leaders.”

They also manage the Curly + Confident Club, a virtual club membership ($30 per month) for girls ages 6 to 12 to meet online and in person, if located in Atlanta, to get resources and activities to grow their confidence.

In addition to these programs and her new product launches, in the year ahead, Zoe is looking forward to increasing her speaking engagements.

In 2022, she gave a TEDx talk about confidence and the role toys play. Since then, she has spoken at schools, benefits, company meetings and more. “I was very shy before. I’m introverted, but because I’m passionate about this, I’m able to come out of my shell. The business has helped me with public speaking and to grow my confidence,” she says.


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