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Dotty Mayle: the Art of Spreading Local Love

What can be more fun than opening up a bag or basket full of life’s simple pleasures, such as all-natural soaps, hand-pressed stickers, and decorated sugar cookies and cake pops? That’s exactly the thought Dotty Mayle had when she first had the idea for Oh Goodie!, a small business that focuses on custom-designed goodie bags and gift baskets. However, it was Dotty’s then-five-year-old son (he’s now 16!) that initially spurred the thoughts. At the time, he attended various birthday parties and brought home a lot of little plastic pieces…remnants of party favors that made their way to the trash. Dotty was inspired to create party favor bags featuring more useful items.

Dotty, being an elementary school teacher for over 20 years, knows all the behind-the-scenes secrets to kid crazes and trending toys! She has always been on the hunt for prizes and rewards for use in her third and fourth grade classrooms at Frontier Central School District, so this venture made sense. Dotty has expanded her small business from kids goodie bags to “weddings, basket raffles, corporate and teacher gifts, and customized gift baskets for all occasions,” all completely sourced from Buffalo vendors!

Dotty is a graduate of the International Center of Creative Studies in Buffalo, which focuses on the development of creativity, leadership, decision-making, and problem solving skills. Teaching is a passion for Dotty, so when working on her Master’s degree while in the classroom by day, she sought a program that would benefit her interest in the creative arts. This program fostered her approach to the integration of creativity with learning—creativity is essential to wholehearted living for Dotty.

She applied her networking and brainstorming foundationns to become a small business champion. This led to her collaboration with many other woman entrepreneurs interested in creating specialty items for her goodie bags and gift baskets. The importance of creativity features prominently in all the work Dotty does—supporting working moms while creating affordable, quality products for clients is paramount!

Dotty’s enthusiasm for building relationships with women continues. Along with three other female founders, a venture called SheConnects is in the works to help female entrepreneurs and nonprofit founders grow and support each other. They have already started planning logistics and social media content for their first networking event.

Soon after Oh Goodie! was launched, Dotty was asked to participate on the Board of Directors for a local sports club, the Delaware Soccer Club. Dotty grew up playing soccer, and she coached for eight years. Both her son and daughter had been playing since around four, so it felt right to volunteer with a group Dotty was directly connected with and that supported similar ideals. Sports, to Dotty, is a space where kids can feel safe and accepted; it’s a community that builds confidence through a sense of belonging and teamwork. “Soccer is an international language,” she says, “You can pick up a ball and play with anyone; you don’t have to speak English.”

Helping kids participate in the home program at Delaware Park by providing scholarships through her fundraising efforts is what makes the intersection of her teaching, small business, and volunteer efforts so special and valuable. As Dotty had already educated herself about social media for Oh Goodie!, creating Instagram stories and reels, she could help build and propel the Delaware Soccer Club to what is now roughly 1,000 families! Leveraging social media content allowed broader connections with other area nonprofits to support related efforts such as organizing volunteers looking to donate their time. 

Dotty admits this success did not occur overnight, instead involving hard work and many mistakes made through the years. Dotty calls this work “the third shift”; long after her children go to bed, she dives into her communications and assembly for Oh Goodie! Her family has been lovingly supportive.

One of her favorite stories was an order she received from her first corporate client, Elderwood. In response to the COVID-19 shutdown, the project aimed to thank skilled nurses for their dedication, care, and support of older adults in assisted living facilities across the country. Through a friend, Dotty connected with Elderwood and showcased her unique goodie bags, collaborating with carefully chosen local vendors to make specialty Elderwood branded lip balms and plantable seed paper. Having a national account allowed Dotty to work with a local chocolatier to broadcast Buffalo’s famous sponge candy too! Dotty’s children assisted in the preparation and assembly of 4,300 gift bags. She laughs as she recalls bringing all the bags to the post office in her truck. “Kids are like sponges…they understand how to run a business, they understand how to give back, they understand the importance of communications and community—so, it’s amazing life-lessons I’m proud to teach them.” With the money made, Dotty bought her family a hot tub they all enjoy to this day!

Family and community are interwoven through the fabric of Oh Goodie! Dotty is a first-generation Vietnamese American. Her parents were refugees who immigrated to Buffalo after the fall of Saigon. Dotty understands the obstacles and challenges of small business ownership, and she attributes her work ethic and dedication to her parents. So not only is this story about women entrepreneurs helping and supporting each other, but this is a story about living the American Dream. Buffalo has historically been a city of immigrants, and it continues to be a beacon for families from across the world looking to build a better life.

Buffalo as a cultural mosaic provides the backdrop for one last story, again taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic. Oh Goodie! gift bags were crafted for 748 members of a Jewish congregation throughout New York State during Purim. The bags contained kosher items such as grape juice, hamantaschen, and chocolate. With a great deal of logistical planning and mapping out routes, Dotty and her daughter hand-delivered as many of the personalized bags as they could. The best part, Dotty says, was the proud look on her daughter’s face as she placed bags on each doorstep.

Let’s take a cue from Dotty’s creativity, compassion, and dedication to community and help in our communities. We can make a meaningful impact, one goodie bag, gift basket, or act of kindness at a time.

We are inspired by all that Dotty does for our community and know you will too.
Instagram: @ohgoodiebags  // Facebook: ohgoodiebagsandbaskets