When 15-year-old Arriel Turner was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2009, she decided to fight it in her own way. “Coming out of my [first] surgery, it was kind of a recovery thing. I wanted to get something off of my mind, so I started to sew,” says Arriel about the beginning of her doll-making career. Arriel lives in Hamilton with her family—parents Mark and Tina and brother Max—who are all dealing with illnesses and disabilities of their own, forcing the family to be on a very tight fixed income. Arriel explains that these playful and colorful character dolls, although a passion, were always made with the intent of benefiting her household. “I wanted to sell the dolls because I wanted to help my family and me, too,” she says. Her mom marvels at her dedication. “She started at 12 years old,” says Tina Turner. “Someone [that age] wanting to bring in an income, that’s really special.” Ironically, Arriel was actually considering giving up her side project, when WBAL-TV’s Lisa Robinson ran a segment on the dolls and the Turner family. The response was overwhelming—and orders came flying in. “When this happened, she just went full force with making them again,” says Tina. “We didn’t realize it was going to be this explosive once people heard about it,” says Mark Turner, adding, “The whole family [now] gets involved to help out because Arriel gets fatigued very fast.” “Each doll gets better and better,” says Tina.
Local teen makes and sells dolls to help her family’s finances.
Issue date: April, 2013