Charlotte Gould

Age: 14 years old

School: Kyrene Aprende Middle School

Year: 8th Grade

City: Tempe




We think of them as having two very distinct meanings, but when you really think about it, the words “different” and “special” kind of mean the same thing. Not of the norm. Imagine having a child who bears the physical and emotional scars of a birth defect or an injury. How do you get them across the bridge from “different” to “special”? 

Charlotte Gould can speak from experience. An eighth grader at Kyrene Aprende Middle School, Gould isn’t just another 14-year-old. She’s not just another child who was born with a cleft lip and palate. She’s not just another entrepreneur, either. She’s special.

“I got a sewing machine right before I turned 7 years old,” Gould said. “It was, in truth, a complete surprise. But it was one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten.”

Gould tried a starter pattern for beginner-sewers. It was for a rag doll. She followed the pattern, built the body, added braids and glasses, and then decided on a final flourish to complete the personalization.

“I thought to myself, ‘What if it looks exactly like me?’” Gould said. “So, I embroidered my scar. And that’s how it came to be!”

Charlotte added a small pink scar above the doll’s smile, and she knew she had something special. Her doll, boasting the same perfect imperfections that she did, came with her everywhere. When Gould learned that her dance teacher was about to have a baby with half a heart, Gould had an idea: She would make the baby a doll.

“But this time, the stitches were on the chest,” Gould explained.

It caught on. Other kids at the hospital wanted a doll that looked like them, and Stitches by Charlotte was born. Today, children can buy a doll from Gould and then, when it arrives, customize it with their own stitches (with an included, kid-safe needle and thread). To date, Gould has sold approximately 900 dolls for kids across the globe.

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