New Child-like Friendship Dolls!

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About Us

A professional marketing specialist with more than 26 years of experience, Maritza Gutierrez wanted to create a distinctive doll that resembled a girl's particular culture and attributes.

'Play with a doll that looks like you, unique and beautiful!'

While working on Maru and Friends®, running a full-service advertising agency and still giving back to her community, Maritza finds time to serve as Chair of the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, an agency of the state that manages and maintains the five major expressways of Miami-Dade. She was appointed by the Miami-Dade County Commission and elected as chair by her peers. She has broken through many barriers as the first women and the first Hispanic women to hold this position.

Additionally, Maritza is the Vice Chair of the county's Metropolitan Planning Organization. She is the only Governor appointed, non-elected member of the board.

About the Artist

Our dolls are sculpted by the award-winning American Doll Artist, Dianna Effner. Dianna has been making collectible porcelain dolls for over 25 years. A mother and grandmother of five, she is particularly fascinated with children's expressions. She captures the tender features of a child's face and emotion on each of her doll sculptures.

Her unique style and perfection of lifelike fine collectible dolls with childlike features is now available for the first time at Maru and Friends 20" all vinyl dolls.

Made with lots of love.

Maru, Tanya and Jamie.


Miami, FL - June 25th, 2012 -- Maru and Friends® is pleased to announce another great victory in the Toy Industry! Jaime® has been named Creative Child Magazine's 2012 Top Toy of the Year Award in the Girls Dolls Category. Maru and Friends® is honored to receive such great praise from one of the industry's top reviewers.

Creative Child Magazine's Awards Program is unique in that all products submitted are reviewed by parents, educators and professionals alike. Products are not reviewed by any one person. They are reviewed by many people - the very people who purchase them.

This is NOT a "pay-to-win" program. All entries are reviewed by moms and educators at a 2-day event held at the Henderson Convention Center in Nevada.

Other wins for Maru and Friends® include a gold medal in the Book with Merchandise category by the Moonbeam Children's Book Awards; a Diamond Award of Excellence in the Play Dolls category from DOLLS magazine; and an honors award in the Toys for Ages 5 and Up from the National Parenting Publication Awards

Jaime® is one of five dolls in the Maru and Friends® collection. Our dolls are a celebration of childhood fun with a beautifully crafted ethnic play doll. Made with love, the collection serves as role models for many young girls growing up in today's challenging world.

Our box of sunshine comes with a beautiful 20-inch vinyl doll, and her hard cover story book, Forever Friends, which chronicles the story of young Maru®, a Hispanic immigrant, who comes to America leaving behind her parents to live with estranged relatives. Jaime® is one of Maru's two best friends, who she meets during her adventures through the United States. This illustrated chapter book brings Maru's® journey to life.

Our program encourages young girls from all cultures to enjoy the virtues of childhood fun, imagination and diversity while still focusing on the importance of reading. All of our dolls have unique child-like facial features representative of each of their cultures: Hispanic, Anglo-American and African American.

Dolls were sculpted by award winning American doll artist, Dianna Effner.

2010 Best Vacation Children’s Products for 2010

Maru and Friends® is pleased to announce another great win in the Toy Industry! We have been named Dr. Toy’s Best Vacation Children’s Product. Maru and Friends® is honored to receive such great praise from one of the industry’s top reviewers.

Dr. Toy’s Best Products Programs provide a unique, original, copyrighted review of children’s products. One program, Dr. Toy’s 100 Best Children's Products, was featured in Early Childhood News (1992-93) Family Circle (1986) Parenting Magazine (1987) King Features Syndicate, and every year since 1994 on Dr. Toy's Guide on the Internet is visited by over 80,000 visitors a day. Dr. Toy’s four annual programs include: Best Classic Toys, Best Vacation Products, 100 Best Children’s Products, and Smart Play Products of Excellence.

As a result of Dr. Toy’s combined efforts, the finest guide to current, play and learn Best Vacation Children’s Products has been compiled. This Guide includes diverse summertime toys and other products that meet Dr. Toy’s always high standards (safety, uniqueness, design, durability, cost effectiveness, value for vacation travel, at home or at destination, etc.). These are the varied products that offer the child “extra” benefits for optimal learning, play, creativity, physical activity, and, of course, are fun.


2010 Teachers' Choice Award

The Teachers' Choice Awards honor products of exceptional quality and outstanding performance in the classroom and at home!

Their panel of teacher evaluators use each product in their classrooms and homes to find the best products for teachers and parents.


2009 NAPPA Children’s Products winner

This elegantly designed doll is richly detailed, with realistic hair and eyelashes that capture her beauty. What makes Maru so special is the way she appeals to a younger audience of readers who are just beginning simple chapter books. The doll is accompanied by a hardcover book that describes Maru’s coming to America to live with her aunt and uncle, and her wait for the later arrival of her parents. Written simply and understandably, Maru’s story helps bring the doll to life, and may open beginner readers to the new horizons that reading can provide. Both doll and the book are keys for children to enter a world of imagination and thought.

2011 & 2009 DOLLS Awards of Excellence Winner

DOLLS magazine covers all facets of the collectible doll world ... from high-end artist works to popular manufacturer pieces, fashion dolls, ball-jointed dolls and more.
Each year, the Diamond Awards are handed out to the industries top competitors.

2009 Moonbean Children’s Book Award - Gold seal - Book with merchandise

Moonbeam Children's Book Awards, designed to honor the year's best children's books, authors and illustrators. Presented by Jenkins Group and Independent Publisher Online, the Moonbeam Children's Book Awards are designed to bring increased recognition to exemplary children's books and their creators, and to support childhood literacy and life-long reading.

As our society has gotten more complex and growing up has become more complicated, children's book authors and publishers have risen to the occasion, creating books that not only celebrate the joys of childhood, but also help kids and families deal with its challenges. The Moonbeam Awards will recognize and reward the best of these books and bring them to the attention of parents, booksellers, librarians, parents and children.

The 2nd annual Moonbeam Awards attracted 1,085 entries. Moonbeam medals were awarded to authors and publishers from 30 U.S. states, four Canadian provinces, and four countries overseas. The cause of promoting childhood literacy knows no boundaries, and the award winners illustrate that point well, coming not only from long-established publishers and university presses, but from small presses, foundations, museums, and self-published entrepreneurs.

Mr. Dad Seal of Approval and the GreatDad Recommends

The Mr. Dad Seal of Approval and the GreatDad Recommends program recognize products and services that support our mission: giving men the resources, tools, and information they need to be the fathers they want to be and that their families need them to be.

2011 & 2009 Maru Wins Creative Child Magazine's Toy of the Year Award
For years, Creative Child Magazine has provided parents with an exceptional resource for finding both educational and fun toys for their children. Creative Child Magazine's Awards Program is unique in that all entries are reviewed by more than 100 mothers and early youth educators. No one person has the final say in judging, and all finalists are handpicked by the very same people who would purchase the product themselves.

Maru Named Winner of The National Parenting Center's 2009 Seal of Approval

There are dolls and then there are dolls!
Maru blew our testers away with her exceptional beauty and superb design. In fact some testers were impressed even before they laid eyes on Maru. The packaging she comes in is lovely and elegant with ribbons and bows, not plastic and wires like most toys. There is also a wonderful book that is tucked in the box that tells her story, further bringing her to life for your child. Testers gushed over her exquisite features, realistic hair, stunning eyes, eyelashes and facial features. Her clothing also drew raves as being incredibly well-made and designer worthy. Maru is a high quality doll with a sweet message that celebrates differences and friendship.

New Maru and Friends Dolls Win 2009 DOTY Awards!

Maru and Friends®, the doll line that hit the market last October, is making headlines again treasuring some of the most prominent awards that reward dolls with exceptional design and manufacture. They were favored by the 2009 DOTY Industry Choice Awards. The awards were announced on Friday, January 29th, 2009, at IDEX Premiere in Orlando, Florida.

The most recent win for Maru and Friends® were the "Happy Twins Collection", boy and girl and "Tanya"- a graceful light brown complexion 21" doll. The "Happy Twins" were selected in the Children's Play Doll category. "Tanya" was chosen in the Collectible Vinyl/Plastic Doll, Less than $125.

The DOTY Awards Program, sponsored by Doll Reader Magazine, is designed to celebrate excellence in doll creation and to enjoy a shared passion for doll collecting and art. Every year, manufacturers, artists, and collectors alike come together to vote in recognition of superior achievement in doll creation.

Maru Doll Wins The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award

The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio was founded in 1989 as the only independent consumer review of children's media. Oppenheim's reviews consider, along with educational and play value, safety, age appropriateness, amongst other important factors. The award winners are selected by a noted expert in child development, children's literature, and education, and further tested by the most objective panel of judges-kids.

iParenting Media Award Winner 2008 - 2008 Greatest Products
Toys and Games

The iParenting Media Awards Program provides a credible and objective method of determining the best products in the marketplace and then honors them with the most prestigious consumer award.

Reviewers are a diverse set of parents, experts, licensed childcare centers and schools nationwide.

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