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11-Year-Old Entrepreneur from Atlanta Wins Big in National “Small Business Big Wins” Contest by Barclays

MBE Magazine Staff
Black woman and young girl smiling and holding Black dolls.

Zoe Oli from Atlanta isn’t your typical 11-year-old girl. She is a published author, TEDx speaker and the CEO of Beautiful Curly Me, a line of black dolls, books and puzzles designed to instill and inspire confidence in girls.

At a young age she had challenges with self-esteem and one day came home from school and asked her mom why her hair wasn’t straight and “pretty” like her classmates. And when she couldn’t find dolls with hair like hers, she saw a need and started her own business. Beautiful Curly Me is also driven by a mission to serve and that’s why for every doll purchased, one is donated to children from underserved communities.

Beautiful Curly Me was recently selected as one of the top winners of Barclays US Consumer Bank’s annual “Small Business Big Wins” contest and is the recipient of a $20,000 cash prize.

Barclays received nearly 15,000 qualifying submissions for this year’s contest in which thousands of small businesses from across the country shared the challenges of building a business and their unique journeys in hopes to win cash prizes. Beautiful Curly Me was selected as a Top 10 finalist and showcased online at BarclaysSmallBizBigWins.com for a public voting period that took place April 1-10. 

“Thank you to our amazing supporters for this recognition,” said 11-year-old Zoe Oli, founder of Beautiful Curly Me. “We are so excited as we look to the future. These funds from Barclays will help with our expansion into retail, purchasing inventory and enabling us to continue giving back to our communities with every doll sold.”

As Zoe and Evana, her mom and business partner, look ahead, they will continue empowering girls to love themselves as they are and amplifying representation and diversity within our communities.

About Small Business, Big Wins
Small Business Big Wins was created during the pandemic to provide a much-needed boost to small businesses with compelling stories of resilience. This year, Barclays awarded 60 small businesses with $255,000.

The full list of finalists includes:

  • Sunhee’s Farm and Kitchen – Troy, New York (grand prize winner of $60,000): Driven by a passion for food and community, Sunhee’s Farm and Kitchen provides authentic Korean food for dine-in, take-out and catering at its local market. Additionally, this small business employs immigrant Americans from all over the world and provides free virtual English classes for adults.
  • Dixon Cooperative Market – Dixon, New Mexico (second place winner of $40,000): Founded in 2005, this unique market provides locals with a grocery store that supports local growers and producers. The market also provides educational resources to the community.
  • Beautiful Curly Me – Atlanta, Georgia (third place winner of $20,000): Beautiful Curly Me gives every little girl the chance to have a doll that looks like them by creating dolls with braids and curly hair. For every doll sold, one is donated to underserved communities.
  • Buttermilk Boutique, LLC – Clayton, North Carolina ($5,000): A pasty shop dedicated to memorable luxury sweets and treats for everything from weddings to corporate events.
  • Good Karma Bikes – San Jose, California ($5,000): A non-profit dedicated to providing bike repair and secondhand sale services to members of the local community in need of aid.
  • Happy Day Dessert Factory – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ($5,000): An ice cream parlor serving homemade hard ice cream as well as water ice, custard, milkshakes and more. Products are made daily with premium ingredients.
  • KnoNap – Washington, D.C. ($5,000): A tech startup that makes small, portable tests that enable users to test drinks and cocktails for drugs commonly used to spike drinks.
  • Mickey’s Popcorn – Memphis, Tennessee ($5,000): A snack producer founded by a married team producing small batch gourmet popcorn in flavors inspired by their region.
  • Rose Sisters Chips – Brooklyn, New York ($5,000): A snack company founded by two sisters using a family recipe that dates back to their Polish-Canadian childhood in Brooklyn. The recipe has been passed down for three generations.
  • Wowzitude – Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey ($5,000): A travel entertainment company that specializes in virtual tours that cater to seniors and others who might not be able to experience distant locations physically.

To see how winners of previous contests have benefitted from their winnings and a video of this year’s contest visit BarclaysSmallBizBigWins.com.

About Barclays US Consumer Bank

Barclays US Consumer Bank is a leading co-branded credit card issuer and financial services partner in the United States that creates highly customized programs to drive customer loyalty and engagement for some of the country’s most successful travel, entertainment, retail and affinity institutions. The bank offers co-branded, small business and private label credit cards, installment loans, online savings accounts, and CDs. For more information, please visit www.BarclaysUS.com.

Today, many businesses utilize Barclays’ credit cards and benefit from the reward dollars spent on business needs. For more information on Barclays’ business card offerings, visit BarclaysUS.com/Business.

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