Decatur Business is on Oprah’s Favorite Things list

DECATUR, GA – The Decatur Step Stitches company has been on Oprah’s annual Favorite Things list. Retired owner, teacher and social worker Stephanie Dean is a self-taught vintage-style doll designer. She said it all started as a hobby.

This week, Amazon and Oprah unveiled the 2021 list of must-have holiday gifts, including Dean’s Handmade Cinnamon Annie doll, which Oprah hand-picked.

“I feel excited, nervous and I’m still dealing with this,” she told Patch. “I grew up with Oprah and she is a huge part of everyday life so it’s exciting. I’m in seventh heaven.”

Dean founded Stage points in late 2016. After 16 years of teaching elementary school in DeKalb County School District, she changed careers. Dean went back to school for a Masters in Social Work and then started his new job as a social worker. A lifelong craft lover, she once said that she decided to learn to sew on her own. Now dolls are her full time job.

“Entrepreneurship has fallen on my knees,” Dean said. “I created the doll I wanted as a kid.”

What started as a simple social media sharing has naturally turned into a lot more. Dean wanted to share his Raggedy Ann Pinterest creation with his Instagram followers, and that’s when the compliments and inquiries started coming in. Everyone wanted to know where to buy a doll.

Dean said that’s when she put the doll on Etsy and it took off. Now that Amazon is adding their dolls to their website, they are thrilled with the additional exposure and support.

Amazon provides services to small businesses such as Dean’s. It now has the potential to reach millions of customers.

The impact of her dolls has been all the motivation she needs to keep going, she said. Growing up in the late 1960s, Dean said there weren’t as many options for black girls, but his mom always found a doll that looked like him. Dean said it’s important for black girls and boys to have toys and dolls that reflect what they see in the mirror.

“When I started I got a letter from a white lady who had ordered a brown doll,” Dean said. “She told me her daughter adopted a black child. She said when she gave the doll to her new granddaughter, the little girl said, ‘Looks like me.'”

She has received many messages like this from customers everywhere.

“That’s when I knew it was more than something I loved to do,” Dean said. “I had an impact.”

Now, Cinnamon Annie dolls are available in several shades, from dark to light. They also have a choice of different dress styles.

Self-proclaimed doll lover, Dean wanted other children to have the same joyful experience she had growing up, which is why she also self-posted “My best doll friend“on Amazon with Kindle Direct Publishing.

“It’s a companion book,” she said. “It shows the reader the different ways a child can relate to playing with the doll, like riding a bike, having tea, all the things I did growing up with my doll.”

She just added a coloring book to accompany the children’s book.

Its online business has grown steadily and sales picked up in 2020 during the Black Lives Matter movement.

“More and more people were looking for black-owned businesses,” she said.

Dean hopes that with the Amazon exposure, she can develop more dolls and books from her product line.

According to Amazon, this year’s list is the biggest of all time and celebrates seven years of Oprah’s Favorite Things exclusively on Amazon. Most of the items on this year’s list are from small businesses, women-owned brands, and businesses owned by people of color.

Over the past year, US small and medium-sized businesses selling on Amazon’s store have sold more than 3.8 billion products, averaging 7,400 per minute, Amazon reported. For small businesses like Step Stitches on the list, selling on Amazon opens up a whole new customer base and offers the opportunity to dramatically increase sales and grow the brand, Amazon said in a press release.

Find the full list of Oprah’s favorite things on Amazon just in time for the upcoming holiday season.

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