By Jessica Easthope
There’s nothing nine-year-old Gigi Solitario wanted more than a puppy.
“I started making bracelets so I could earn money for a puppy so I could get a puppy,” Gigi said.
Gigi’s mom Jill suggested she use her creativity to raise money for a dog, but Gigi’s goal quickly developed into something more.
“That one idea turned into ‘I want to raise enough money to adopt a dog.’ And that turned into ‘I have enough money to adopt a dog, now I want to help others,'” Jill explained.
With some colorful beads and time on their hands during the pandemic Gigi and Jill started Gigi’s Creations, a business on Instagram selling handmade bracelets, anklets and something Gigi knew people would really need.
“My mom keeps losing her mask a lot so me and my mom decided to make a mask holder so you can hold your mask around your neck,” Gigi said.
As the business grew, Gigi began giving the money to charities. She picks a different one every month and has donated more than $1,000. Gigi’s favorite charity is Save the Turtles, so it was an easy pick for her first donation.
“I like turtles and I like helping them because all the turtles keep getting stuck in plastic and getting hurt and stuff,” Gigi said.
If Gigi’s giving spirit wasn’t inspiring enough, Jill says there was a time when she thought her daughter would never be able to make something so intricate. In 2016 Gigi was diagnosed with the eye disorder exotropia.
“Her eyes doubled at one point, her eyes went outward, sometimes she was seeing blurry vision,” Jill said.
After months of intensive eye therapy didn’t work, the only option was surgery, but Gigi came out on top and is now defying the odds bead-by-bead.
“Especially, we use clear string,” said Jill. “For her to bead through the clear string is amazing to see.”
Tied in to every one of Gigi’s creations is faith. Jill says she’s taken what she’s learned at home and at her school, St. Ephrem’s Catholic Academy, and is wearing it right on her sleeve.
“She’s always thinking of others and helping others, so I think our Catholic faith is tying it all together,” Jill said.
With the same care and consideration she puts into picking every bead, Gigi’s in the process of picking a great shelter to find her dog. She started out raising money to get something she wanted. Now, Gigi is more focused on what she can give and spreading happiness — one bracelet at a time.