10-year-old Norfolk entrepreneur goes beyond Barbies

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — 10-year-old Gianni Graham has been on a mission to donate Barbie dolls to other girls.

“Every doll deserves a doll,” Graham said. “I was just playing with my Barbie doll house and I thought of it.”

The idea of collecting barbie dolls to give to homeless shelters was her Christmas wish that has bloomed into so much more. She realized that she could share the joy of owning a Barbie with other girls who are less fortunate.

“Now that they have a doll, they have a friend,” she said. “They are dolls and they deserve one.”

Since Graham started on her mission, she has collected and donated almost 5,000 Barbie dolls.

“The girls that are in the foster homes may think, ‘No one loves me,’ ‘I’m not beautiful,’ ‘I’m not anything,’” Graham said. “But they actually are, and I want them to find that in themselves.”

Since Graham started on her journey, she has spent countless hours wrapping Barbies and writing handwritten motivational notes to each girl. She says the supplies add up, so she created something to help with the expenses.

“These are earrings that I make. We buy the fabric from local craft stores,” Graham said. “We use the money from the earrings to pay for the wrapping paper.”

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With the help of her mother, she organized a photo shoot for the earrings at Le Bebe Chic Boutique in Chesapeake.

“When I use my gift of creativity, something magical starts to happen,” said Graham. “Believe in yourself, believe in your dreams, believe in your spiritual synergy.”

Graham says she’s not stopping there. She’s in the process of creating a four-week summer program for young girls and a Doll House Recreation center to inspire other dolls who want to be entrepreneurs, too.

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