BE OBSESSED: My foray into entrepreneurship began with an obsession with lip-gloss. If I hadn't constantly asked my father for lip balm, I don't think he would have challenged me with the idea of making my own. I give a lot of credit to my mother for helping me find a recipe online and helping me make my first batch. I needed to solve my problem and that lead to me building a brand that can now help solve problems for girls everywhere.
GO TO MARKET EARLY: I asked members of my church if they'd consider buying my lip-gloss, and I was able to make $82-dollars on my first batch! Keep trying until you get it right; work to build a tribe around you that will give you honest feeback.
YOUR BRAND IS LIKE A SIGNATURE: I've incorporated my eye-glasses into my actual signature because it helps with brand and name recognition. My glasses are a part of who I am, a necessity. They also represent " the vision" and plan I have for my future.
LEARN WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW: I joined the Kids Biz Small Business program at Buffalo State College when I was 9-years old, then went on to be the youngest person to graduate from the Univeristy At Buffalo' Center of Entrepreneurial Leadership. Those were major steps in my journey as an entrepreneur, because I learned some of the basic business principles (such as business development, marketing and finance) which are critical to being successful.
FAIL FAST -- IT COSTS LESS: In the beginning I thought having an expansive product line was a sign of success. At one point we had more than 75 different products and fragrances. Then we realized that we were all over the place. As my mom says, "it was great for creativity, but bad for business." In order to get back on track, we decided to re-brand and only keep the products that I felt most passionately about as our core offering.
REALIZE THE BENEFITS OF YOUR OPPORTUNITIES: One of my biggest failures was not fully realizing the benefits of some opportunities; therefore, not maximizing on them. For example, I had met Lauren Maillian and we had a great time together, but I failed to follow up with her a bit more aggressively than I should have. Perhaps I missed out on an opportunity to be involved in her new successful television series "Quit Your Day Job". I have totally learned from that.
SURROUND YOURSELF BY LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE: The journey of an entrepreneur is hard, so you need someone to relate to who will understand the things that are happening in your world. Those people are valuable to your journey and will be able to assist when needed because they will have a better understanding of your entrepreneurial lifestyle.
I am blessed to have both parents encourage the fulfillment of my dreams. What's really cool about it; they do the same for my other siblings. The support and encouragement my family provides to me daily is what inspires me to keep doing what it takes to inspire others that may not be as fortunate as myself. Other successful entrepreneurs should also provide encouragement to others attempting to follow their lead. I have been blessed again to have a couple of industry leaders helping to guide me in the right direction and to avoid some of the traps they experienced.
BE READY FOR THE NEXT STEP: I have learned that a person should always be ready for the next step; in other words, be prepared to be blessed and NEVER give up on your DREAMS; NO MATTER HOW HARD IT GETS! Its really important to educate yourself and do the research on what your passionate about. Networking is also a very critical, the more people you connect with the larger impact you can have.
YOUR TIME WILL BE YOUR BIGGEST SACRIFICE: You're not going to have all the extra time to do the stuff that everyone else is doing, but that's okay. You're doing something that they're not doing either!
ENTREPRENEURS ARE AGENTS-OF-CHANGE! If you are able to make money, you are able to make change. I am giving 10% of my profits to nonprofits focused on educating girls. Having a social mission is a powerful way of advancing your marketplace impact while also making a positive shift in the world.
JUST DO IT ALREADY!: Stop telling yourself that you're too young, that your idea isn't good enough, or that you don't have enough money to make it happen! There are tons of free resources out there for kids. Researching how to make your idea come to life is really no different than learning anything else.
My role is to remind every girl that success is within us; and it is our duty to encourage and educate every girl, they too can be successful at whatever they want. If we empower our girls, we change the world!