Fans, admirers, and collectors of Maru and Friends ethnic dolls have an opportunity to help the locally-based company win a $25,000 small business grant in an online competition from FedEx. To participate, go to https://smallbusiness.fedex.com/grant-contest and vote for Maru and Friends. You can vote once a day every day until March 17, then the top 100 businesses will be announced on March 31, with winners announced on April 21.
Maru is a doll who was “born” from a true story about a young Hispanic girl who must leave her country and come to America to live with relatives. Her tale is told in a book that is included with the purchase of the doll.
“We want to win the FedEx grant because it will allow us to write four additional books about Maru and Friends,” said Marizta Gutierrez, the creator of and inspiration for Maru.
Maritza came to the U.S. as a very young child to escape political discord in her native country. Separated from her parents for a time, she lived with relatives in New York.
“Later, when I was re-united with my parents, my mother told me about a favorite doll of mine that some authority took away from me when I left Cuba,” said Maritza.
The abrupt loss of the Maritza’s doll seemed a metaphor for the abrupt loss of her home and her family. This is the inspiration for Maru, a doll who represents an eight year-old Latina girl who comes to America and learns to love her new home with the help of her relatives and her new friends. Along the way, she meets friends who come from different backgrounds with varied customs, leading her to understand and relish in the diversity of Americans.
Maru and Friends began as an online store in 2008, since that time, Maritza has opened three retail stores that sell the dolls, clothing, and other products related to the lives of the dolls. The locations are on Miracle Mile in Coral Gables, Town Center in Boca Raton, and the Aventura Mall (and she is looking for more locations). Tea parties and other events to delight her 5 to 10 year-old customer base happen throughout the year.
To learn more about the latest for Maru and Friends, go to maruandfriends.com.
Maritza Gutierrez is modest about her success with Maru and Friends, her marketing company and her role as Chair of the MDX. Her dolls are sought by collectors around the world, appealing to both children and adults alike. “I just love dolls. They can be a little girl’s best friend and big girls, too. I own a big collection of beautiful dolls,” said Maritza. Follow Maru and Friends on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MaruAndFriends and vote for Maru on the link available here.