In this episode of Mompreneurs, host Nancy Redd is joined by mother-daughter business team Evana and Zoe Oli, founders and owners of doll brand Beautiful Curly Me. In just a few years, the duo built a business that has now profited six figures and has been featured in Forbes, Good Morning America and People Magazine. Redd sits down with the Oli ladies to talk about their trials and tribulations, how they got started as entrepreneurs, and what their brand means to them.


From Humble Beginnings To A Household Name


Source: Courtesy of Evana Oli / Subject

Mompreneur Evana Oli was working a 9-5 corporate job when her daughter approached her about creating their dolls. She had no idea that she would be starting a business – let alone with her daughter. But when 6-year-old Zoe came to her and said she wanted to create dolls that looked more like her, Evana knew it was important.

This was a conversation that had, in a way, been a long time coming. Months before the idea for the business was born, Zoe came home from school and asked why her hair wasn’t “straight or pretty” like her classmates. This was a sentiment that struck Evana right in the heart.

Evana had, at this point, spent plenty of time herself trying to conform to white beauty standards. She said of working in corporate America, “It was this rat race of trying to maintain that perfect image.” Evana did not want this for her daughter. So when Zoe had the idea of designing her own dolls that would have natural hair, braids and curls, her mom understood the power of the product.

A three-year turnaround to a profit can seem fast, but the Oli’s journey did not lack obstacles. Evana was still juggling her full-time job, while helping her daughter run a business, who was still a full-time student. She slowly started meeting with designers and manufacturers to get a sense of what this would cost. It was important to her to involve her daughter in every step of the process.

“I wanted to be true to the vision of my daughter…a lot of people put their kids up as props…for me…it was important for her…to really be a businesswoman.” She brought Zoe to toy shows, involved her in raising capital and made sure she immersed herself in the world of entrepreneurship.

The first order of Beautiful Curly Me dolls required a $5,000 investment – which was a lot for the family at the time – and since then, it’s grown into a six-figure business. Today, the company also makes books (written by Zoe), pillow cases, puzzles and – one of their most popular products – matching mother-daughter-doll bonnet sets.

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