Zoe A. Terry is only twelve years old but she’s already making a huge impact in our world proving that anyone, at any age, can make a difference. Along with balancing the challenges of the 8th grade Zoe is an entrepreneur. She is the founder and CEO of the non-profit Zoe’s Dolls. Her mission to give toys to little girls in need and combat bullying has garnished a lot of attention. She’s been featured in Glamour Magazine, appeared on Good Morning America and even given a TEDx talk! I sat down with her to find out what tips she has for her fellow entrepreneurs and how her journey has been so far. Read the interview below.
“Zoe’s Dolls is my passion and sometimes it requires me to sacrifice.”
How do you balance going to school, growing up and being a business owner?
It’s really hard at times. In the beginning, when I was younger it was easier. Now that I am older my responsibilities have increased. I am now in middle school, on the swim team, the water polo team and the basketball team, so it is definitely a balancing act. I also have honors classes. I prioritize. Schoolwork always comes first. There are times when I have to miss hanging out with friends or going to parties but I love what I do. Zoe’s Dolls is my passion and sometimes it requires me to sacrifice. In the end, I think it’s worth it.
I agree with you 100% What support along the way have you received?
South Florida is home and where I get my greatest support. I have great support from my school Miami Country Day School, they always allow me to set up boxes to collect dolls (I get over 200 dolls from them each year. Every year, The Office of Economic Development Department of the Miami Dade County Public Schools Administration building, they organize a Dolls & Desserts event where they collect over 800 dolls each year. I get support from the Opa-Locka Community Development Corporation. They always give us free space for us to practice for our Zoe’s Dolls Living Doll Experience. People, in general, are just supportive of our mission.
That’s wonderful. Zoe’s Dolls is still a relatively new business. You’re just getting started and it’s very exciting and inspiring. What are your future goals and plans?
Right now, I’m working on coming out with my own doll, where proceeds from the doll will go to support Zoe’s Dolls and I am expanding the Zoe’s Dolls mission to other states. Right now, we are in Florida, Georgia, Texas, and Mississippi. We are looking to expand to Denver and Ohio. I am also working on a new line of t-shirts and sweatshirts and my second book.
“Never give up on your business.”
What advice do you have for other people that want to open a business, and would you ever sell your company?
No, I would not sell Zoe’s Dolls. I would consider licensing rights. Zoe’s Dolls is personal to me. I could never part with it. The biggest advice that I can give is never give up on your business. It won’t be easy. you have to stick to it. I have had many setbacks, but you have to pick yourself up and keep going. Also, make sure you do something you are passionate about.
“Wanting to do something for Black girls does not make me racist.”
Passion will get you through those tough times. What challenges have you had as a business owner?
The biggest challenge is being a kidpreneur. People think it’s cute. Seeing a kid run their own business seems like a cute idea because I’m a kid. I want people to see me as a real business person. People sometimes underestimate me because of my age. That really drives me crazy. I’m serious about what I do. Also because I have a very specific mission; to uplift Black girls, I have had people call me racist. Wanting to do something for Black girls does not make me racist.
It seems like you’ve handled those situations with grace. Can you share what have been some of your most memorable moments in your journey so far?
My most memorable moment was one time when I was 9 years old, I gave this girl a doll. The doll had really dark skin, just like the girl. The little girl looked at the doll and just said she is so beautiful. Her skin is just like mines. That little girl was so happy. She gave me the biggest hug. She said she had never had a doll that looked like her and that was so pretty. I will never forget that moment.
What you’re doing as a business owner is something greater than yourself. What does it mean to be a socially conscious business owner?
To mean it means you are not putting a dollar over a value. You recognize what’s going on around you. In my case, it’s the treatment of Black girls. Bringing awareness to issues that affect black girls. I use my business platform to do that.
Ok, enough about business. Tell us about going to school, and what you enjoy doing when you’re not working.
I like to hang with my friends. I like going to the beach, the mall and the movies. I like dirt bike riding. I like hanging out at my friend’s house and them hanging out at my house. I also like spending time with my mother and my Gaga (that’s my Godmother). School is great. I love school. My favorite subject is Civics. Of course, I love hanging with my friends. Just being on the campus is cool.
Lastly, how did you spend your summer?
I spent a week at my friend’s beach house in Virginia. I went to an Arts Summer Camp at Opa-locka Community Development Corporation. I spent a week with my friend in Lakeland, where we rode dirt bikes and went to an amusement park. I also had tutoring during the summer and I did a lot of reading.
To find out more about Zoe's Dolls and how you can get involved with their mission visit their website.