10-year-old girl starts her own doll business for children undergoing surgery
Charlotte Gould is intent on bringing smiles to children who have had very little reason to. This 10-year-old sews "comfort dolls" for sick children as far afield as Canada and Mexico and donates a portion of the proceeds to charity.
Charlotte Gould was born with a cleft lip and palate, a congenital defect that occurs when a baby’s lip or mouth do not form properly during pregnancy.
She required numerous corrective oral and maxillofacial surgeries before her fourth birthday. Her mom Nicole said the idea of making dolls stemmed from Charlotte wanting to give other young children undergoing these types of surgeries a comfort that she didn't have:
“Charlotte vividly remembers the fears and uncertainty of her own surgeries and having something soft to hold that can help normalize the experience and explain it a kid-friendly way really resonates with Charlotte.”
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After receiving a sewing machine from her Nana for Christmas and finding an easy ragdoll pattern, Charlotte started by sewing a doll in her image, scars and all. Her mom said:
“A rag doll pattern peaked her interest, [...] and once she snuggled that doll she created to look just like her, she knew she couldn’t stop at one.”
Her grandmother lovingly still guides her, but Charlotte's sewing has recently taken on a life of its own. Charlotte was the 2017 winner of the "Imagine If With Jif®" competition and received $15,000.
Using her winnings, Charlotte was able to start producing her first 500 dolls. She sews dolls for children undergoing surgery and donates a portion of the proceeds to cleft palate charities.
EXPANDING HER TALENTS
What started out as a simple "hobby" now requires office space for all the sketches, supplies, and pictures it takes to run this enterprise.
Charlotte intends on growing her dream bigger than making dolls just for children with cleft palates; her focus is to make dolls to suit any childhood sickness, so no child will feel left out.
According to her mom, Charlotte's long-term plans for growth include getting her dolls into pediatric hospital gift stores:
“In the near future, Charlotte hopes to have a line of dolls specifically designed for children needing surgery available on her website and in pediatric hospital gift stores. [...] Each doll will come with a kid-friendly needle, thread, and instructions on how to personalize the doll to match the child’s situation.”
This entrepreneur with only a decade to her name is already talking about moving to New York City and becoming a fashion designer when she grows up.
Considering she already has her own label, "Stitches by Charlotte," her pipedreams aren't so farfetched and she appears to be pretty "grown-up" in her levels of compassion and forward thinking already.
BALD BARBIE DOLLS
In a similar vein, two Florida women have been cheering up young cancer patients by creating bald Barbie dolls, donating over 300 dolls so far to children who have lost their hair from chemotherapy.
Inspired by a now-late 13-year-old diagnosed with terminal cancer that appeared on the "Ellen" show, Valerie Paul and Wanda Schultz began buying dolls and refurbishing them.
Manufacturers of Barbie, Mattel, has also been making and distributing bald Barbie Ella dolls to children's hospitals after a Facebook campaign request went viral.
A recent story we did about a young girl's reaction when she received a doll with a prosthetic leg just like hers will leave you in tears.
Little Emma from Cypress, Texas, was born with a rare birth defect and has used a prosthetic limb for most of her life.
Prosthetics company "A Step Ahead" modified the doll for her and you can witness her heartwarming reaction below.
The compassion and generosity shown by all these companies and people remind us just how important it is for children's self-image to see themselves represented in media, and that it really does take a village to raise a child.
And nobody knows that better than young Charlotte Gould.