Going in for surgery is always scary, whether you’re 5 or 55. Ten-year-old Charlotte Gould learned that an early age: she was born with a cleft palate and had to undergo four surgeries to create her adorable smile.
Charlotte remembers feeling afraid of the procedure, but she also remembers the comfort that cuddling a soft stuffed animal gave her. That memory gave this pint-size entrepreneur her big idea: Stitches by Charlotte, a line of customizable surgery companion dolls for other kids in the hospital. Nearly a year after she won the 2017 "Imagine If With Jif®" contest, we caught up with Charlotte to hear how she turned her dreams into reality.
“I sewed my first doll to look just like myself: long brown braids, glasses, and a sweet smile with a tiny scar,” Charlotte says. The positive feedback she received from other kids, parents, doctors, and nurses inspired Charlotte to start her own line of surgery companion dolls called Stitches by Charlotte. The $15,000 prize she won in the "Imagine If With Jif®" contest allowed Charlotte and her mom, Nicole, to put her first 500 dolls into production.
It’s not just work, either. Charlotte started sewing when she was 7 years old, so she has a ton of fun working on each doll. “If a candy store and a fabric store were right next to each other, you might be surprised what door Charlotte would run to,” Nicole says. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, she loves candy, but the excitement on her face while selecting the perfect fabrics and details for her dolls is delightful.”
Though she certainly has an entrepreneurial spirit, Stitches by Charlotte isn’t just a business idea: it’s also Charlotte’s way of giving back. A portion of the proceeds from every purchase will go to cleft palate charities. “Since an early age, Charlotte has embraced the idea that helping others makes you feel good,” Nicole explains.
“I remember walking into Phoenix Children’s Hospital right before Christmas one year to deliver a personalized doll to a young girl named Quinn,” Charlotte says. She recalls that watching Quinn’s face light up when they handed her a matching doll was priceless. “I hope that my dolls will make children smile, give them courage, and help comfort them before surgery, making it a little less scary,” Charlotte says.