Zoe's dolls has donated more than 35,000 dolls to kids who can't afford them. She has also started her own line of dolls called 'Simple Zoe.'
Zoe Terry was bullied in school for looking different from the other girls - she was dark and had "different" hair. In Kindergarten, she was the only one in her class who looked like she did. The bullying she endured stayed with her. Now, she decided to collect and donate dolls of color to little girls to remind them they are beautiful. The teenager was a philanthropist and entrepreneur by age of 5, starting a nonprofit "Zoe's Dolls" in 2011 along with her mother Nakia Bowling. "I started Zoe’s Dolls when I was 5-years-old because at that time, I was bullied because the color of my skin and because my hair was so puffy," said Zoe, reported Good Morning America. Zoe's dolls donated dolls of color to girls who couldn't afford them because she wanted to "let little brown girls know that their image is beautiful."
The bullying incident really bothered her and she wanted to remind other kids that it was normal to have dark skin and 'different' hair. "It really made me feel really bad," she said. "It made me feel like I couldn’t do anything." Nakia Bowling was disturbed by the bullying incident but used it as an opportunity to teach her daughter to embrace her own skin. Zoe was equally determined to not let it affect her. "When she was bullied, she said, 'I’m not going to let this get me down. I’m going to do something positive about it,'" said Bowling. "She doesn’t let her situation determine her outcome, she determines her outcome."
Zoe wanted to help other girls not feel ashamed of the way they look. "I really wanted to find a way where I can let little brown girls know that their image is beautiful no matter what anyone else says," Zoe said. "And I thought, 'Dolls in their image would be a great way to show them that. I think it's important that everyone gets a doll that looks like them," Zoe added. She is also friends with the girl who had initially bullied her. She even donates to Zoe’s Dolls every year. “Me and my girl are now friends and she donates to Zoe’s Dolls every year," said Zoe, adding that her mother helped bridge their friendship and make her friend see beyond race. "I think how we came to that was that my school and my mom really helped me and the girl understand that our differences are what make us special and we should celebrate our differences,” said Zoe.
The initiative has also raised awareness at school. "Not only does she spread a message of diversity and inclusion," said Karen Davis, a teacher at her school. "She really does feel that we are all beautiful." Zoe has collected and distributed more than 35,000 dolls so far. She has also started her own line of "Simply Zoe" dolls, adding that for every doll sold, one will be given away to a family in need.
She was also the youngest recipient of Nickelodeon’s Helping and Leading Other (HOLA) award, for being a role model and for empowering girls to feel beautiful, reported NowThisNews. She won $30,000 as part of that award but it was never about money for Zoe. “Success isn’t about how much money you make. It’s about the difference you make in people lives,” she said. Zoe is also the author of the book Simply Zoe. Some of her favorite things to do is swimming and taking photos. She resides in North Miami with her mother and Godmother.