9-year-old Sandy Springs entrepreneur lands Meta grant

Zoe Oli, 9, and her mother Evana. (Courtesy of Evana Oli)
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Zoe Oli, 9, and her mother Evana. (Courtesy of Evana Oli)

Credit: Handout/Evana Oli

Credit: Handout/Evana Oli

Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg speaks with ‘Beautiful Curly Me’ owner on her growing business.

“Get started. Done is better than perfect.”

That’s the business advice Zoe Oli, 9, gave Monday in a talk with Meta’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.

“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,” Zoe told Sandberg.

The Sandy Springs kid entrepreneur certainly didn’t stall her dreams. Zoe is the CEO behind a growing business called Beautiful Curly Me, which creates Black dolls with curly and braided hair.

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Credit: Handout/Evana Oli

Meta (formerly Facebook) recently awarded Beautiful Curly Me a $4,000 grant as part of its $100 million investment in Black-owned small businesses. The state of Georgia was the largest recipient of the grants, receiving more than $5.6 million.

On Monday, Sandberg interviewed Zoe and her mother, Evana Oli, on Instagram Live, asking about the origins of the company and their future plans.

“It all started when I was 6 years old, and I did not like my hair,” said Zoe, her curly hair pulled back with a headband. “I wished my hair was straight like my classmates.”

Zoe said her mother tried to console her and bought her a Black doll at the store.

“I liked her, but she did not have hair like mine,” she said. Instead, the doll had straight, silky hair. “I still did not feel good about myself because of that.”

It was then Zoe said she wanted to do something about it. She wanted to start a business.

“I was taken aback,” Evana said. “She was 6 years old.”

Today, Beautiful Curly Me sells 18-inch dolls named Leyla and Anika with curly or braided hair in different skin tones. The company also offers hair care, along with books written by Zoe that aim to empower young girls.

“You are helping girls feel good about their hair, their skin and their bodies. That is so wonderfully important."

- Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg

Beautiful Curly Me has since been featured on national media outlets from “Good Morning America” to People magazine.

Sandberg praised the dolls.

“Not only is she beautiful with her curly hair, but she’s anatomically correct. This is a real girl,” she said. “You are helping girls feel good about their hair, their skin and their bodies. That is so wonderfully important.”

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9-year-old Zoe Oli is the face behind a growing business called Beautiful Curly Me, which creates Black dolls with curly and braided hair.

Credit: Handout/Evana Oli

9-year-old Zoe Oli is the face behind a growing business called Beautiful Curly Me, which creates Black dolls with curly and braided hair.
caption arrowCaption
9-year-old Zoe Oli is the face behind a growing business called Beautiful Curly Me, which creates Black dolls with curly and braided hair.

Credit: Handout/Evana Oli

Credit: Handout/Evana Oli

Evana said her daughter is the “driving force” behind the company and has big plans for the future.

“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.”

That includes launching a podcast and writing more books, said Zoe. She also wants to expand the company’s charitable endeavors. For every doll purchased from Beautiful Curly Me, the company donates one doll to a girl in need. So far, they have donated 667 dolls, according to their website.

“We know there are millions and millions of girls out there whose lives we can really impact,” Zoe said.


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