By Flora Ekpe-Idang
When there’s talk about successful entrepreneurs in the media often times it’s about adults that have the largest teams, built a growing ecosystem of great profitability, or dominate the market in what they do. Plus, if the media features these stories and they include a person of color that’s a rarity. However, there has been a growing trend and support for young entrepreneurs that even while in elementary school are creating businesses that are making changes in their community and ultimately society at large. This is especially true of young Black entrepreneurs that see a problem in their communities and with the support of family and friends created amazing solutions that create value each day. I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite young Black girl entrepreneurs that are bringing #BlackGirlMagic to a whole new level. Check them out.
Asia Newson aka “Super Business Girl”
(Photo credit: Asia Newton)
Thirteen-year-old Asia is the Co-Founder and CEO of Super Business Girl, a candle company that she started when she was just 5 years old. Asia initially bought candles at wholesale and sold them, but now produces them and last year she made nearly $70,000. With the help of her family, Asia started out pitching her business on the streets of Detroit to any potential customer, making a number of sales and connections in the process. Asia was also named “Detroit’s youngest entrepreneur” and for a city that’s going through a resurgence, this is a great example of young entrepreneurs leading the charge in bringing innovation to their communities. The best part of Asia’s story is her commitment to inspiring other youth to become entrepreneurs and garner the support and resources needed to do so such as the education and mentors. She has trained over 40 of her peers, growing her business daily, and will continue to do as she inspires us all that age is nothing, but a number.
(Photo credit: Andrea Cipriani Mecchi)
You may have heard of 12-year-old Marley Dias and her #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign or her recent Editor in Residence position at Elle.com, but if not let me give you the rundown of why Marley rocks. A year ago, Marley like any other elementary student was reading classic literature for her class, but she became frustrated with the lack of diverse protagonists in these stories, especially Black females. The characters were typically about white males and their dogs. Marley did further research and discovered that fewer than 10% of children’s books released in 2015 had a Black person as the main character. Marley decided to do something about. She launched the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign with her goal of collecting 1000 books about black girls. She exceeded her amount by thousands and gained the attention of numerous media outlets. That attention captured Elle.com and they named her an Editor in Residence. Even with these accomplishments, Marley earlier this year announced that she’s publishing an activist guide for children and teens to push them to be change makers in this world.
Egypt Ify Ufele
At just 10 years old, Egypt Ify Ufele endured school bullying for her weight, even being stabbed with a pencil by a classmate. However, she channeled that frustration and energy into sewing clothes for her dolls and eventually learning how to sew clothing for an array of body types. Out of that experience was born her businesses Chubiiline LLC/BullyChasers Inc. which she is the CEO and aims to empower other children as well. Inspired by her Nigerian heritage, her clothing is vibrant and pops with a flow of beautiful African prints. Ufele has garnered much media press for her kick-butt story and she even became the youngest fashion designer in HISTORY to show her work at the New York Fashion Week last year. It’ll be exciting to see what new fashion creation Ufele develops next!
(Photo credit: Josh Huskin)
When Mikaila Ulmer was 4 years old, two big events happened in her life; she was stung by a bee twice which frightened her but brought new fascination causing her to learn as much as possible about bees. Secondly, Makaila came into her grandmother’s 1940s cookbook which included a recipe for Flaxseed Lemonade. That’s how Me & The Bees Lemonade (changed from Bee Sweet Lemonade) came about. She’s been making the delicious lemonade ever since; now in different flavors. Mikaila inspires others around her with providing knowledge on how to save the honeybees and she even donates a portion of her profits to local and international organizations that are trying to save the bees. She is now able to do more and grow as a company as a result of recent investments such as $60,000 she received on Shark Tank, a great contract with Whole Foods, and a distribution deal with United Natural Foods. If this isn’t the definition of turning a negative into a positive, then I don’t know what is.
Last, but not least on our list of top 5 young, Black entrepreneurs that rock is Ms. Maya Penn. If you haven’t seen her mesmerizing TED Talk or seen her eco-friendly fashion business, then you’re missing out. Maya is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, TED speaker, designer, artist, animator, author, and started her first business at 8 years old which now is Maya’s Ideas. She is also the creator of her own animated film as well as the author of her first book. Now at the age of 17, Maya has given many motivational speeches, received numerous awards for her work, and wants to inspire other young girls to follow their passion, be innovators, and believe in themselves. Maya, you rock!
In reviewing all of these amazing ladies who’ve accomplished so much at such a young age, it really shows you that you should never let age deter you from using the courage within yourself to achieve your dreams. At Corage Dolls we aim to empower girls to be unstoppable and be inspired by other girls that represent them. Our first book coming soon features Aaliyah as an 8-year-old entrepreneur that sees a problem in her community similar to these ladies listed above and ultimately develops a solution that creates social value. Share this blog or share comments below and subscribe to our emails to get access to the latest information.