Gen Y & Gen Z Business Bodies

 

It seems like the growing trend for kids these days is to try to make a name for themselves any way they can. With the explosion of social media use, kids are able to get out in front of the limelight almost immediately. While there are several kids that use platforms like YouTube and SnapChat to grow their fan base and capitalize on their instant success, there are others that are a bit more invested in stretching out their success. These are the young entrepreneurs of the Generation Y (Millennium) and Generation Z (Boomlets).
As an esteemed member of Generation X, I was conditioned to go to school, get good grades to go to college, and find a good stable job. If a family wasn’t already in the entrepreneurial business, for the most part a career/salaried job was the way to go. Now while this didn’t hold true for everyone, it did ring true for most.
What I did notice among my peers was the desire and drive to deviate from the norm. In high school, most of my friends planned for college and talked about where they’d love to work. It wasn’t until after college that I realized a lot of my peers had decided that corporate america wasn’t what they really wanted to do. They took the skill set they learned in college and decided to branch out and start their own companies. A lot to the dismay of their parents. Even when I mentioned to my mother that my husband and I desired to start our own business, she had fear about how we’d survive on a limited income. I understood where her fears came in, but I also knew in my heart I didn’t want to work for someone else for the rest of my life. It was a stifling feeling.
Generation Z seems to have caught the entrepreneurial bug a bit early. Even my own kids have wanted to have their own business since they were 4 or 5. From selling drawings to working their own girl scout cookie stands, they have always had the drive to make their own money. With a market for every niche that you can imagine, it’s hard to tell a kid that they shouldn’t follow those dreams.
I had the pleasure of getting to know a few Generation Z movers and shakers. These powerful ladies have created business acumen at such a young age, it’s hard to believe only a few years ago they were all in diapers. There desire to learn their craft, hone in on what their market wants, and to create a final product is uncanny.

JaLahn
Owner, EnviousHair
“Bundles” is no longer a term referring to babies (bundles of joy) or money (bundles of cash). It is a term referring to hair….well weave to be exact. It’s a billion dollar industry, and the better the quality, the better name you’ll have for yourself. JaLahn, owner of EnviousHair, knows this all too well. Her friends wore weave to protect their natural hair, and in high school you couldn’t just have anything in your head. Her peers aren’t just looking at how laid your hair is when you come from the hair dresser, they are also looking at texture, the weft of the weave, and if it gets matted if someone so much as breathes on the hair. They’re also checking for shedding. Don’t get caught around these girls with a balding weft of hair….you will get clowned!
With limited income, JaLahn understood that the money she put into bad weaves continuously could be better spent on quality hair that would last her much longer. But it was hit or miss with a lot of vendors that sold hair. Annoyed with the variance in product and pricing, JaLahn decided to start her own hair business. And her business has taken off! Known for her quality hair and product knowledge, the high school freshman is reaching super star status in her area. She’s pulling in a 4-figure income per month and her clients aren’t only kids. She’s working with the likes of salon owners and working women looking to change up their look. She’s even got me as a loyal customer after wearing her Brazillian Curly weave. The hair lived up to it’s owner promise of delivering a quality product. I actually was impressed with how well the hair did in a recent trip to Miami. I forgot to bring my travel size hair products and went the entire trip using only water and hotel conditioner to tame my hair. Never once did the hair tangle, look dull or shed on me.

Kam
Owner, Kammy’s Confections
(https://eitb2013.wixsite.com/kammysconfections)
Kamiah, owner of Kammy’s Confections, has been cooking as far back as she can remember. She loved to watch her mom cook, and after a few times in the kitchen alone, her mother and father let her create her own menu and serve to the family. Kamiah took to baking only a few years ago, after realizing that she could probably make a better cupcake than the ones her friends were bringing to class parties. She scoured the internet for baking styles and tips. She watched baking shows like Cupcake Wars to get ideas for flavors and decorations. After perfecting her base recipe, Kammy’s Confections was born. She started small, only baking orders for family and close friends. Once word of her tasty cupcakes spread, Kamiah was getting large orders for bridal showers and company functions. She also teamed up with EnviousHair owner, JaLahn to produce photoshoot cupcakes for the staff.
I’ve seen where Kamiah started and see where she is now, and there is no doubt that her cupcakes will have you dumping your store bought ones immediately. The most commendable aspect of it all is that Kamiah has managed to maintain a 3.0 as a high school freshman. She’s also very active in school participating on the dance team, cheerleading team, singing in the school choir and is a member of the SGA.

KK
Owner, OhSoSafi
Kids love to play in make up. It’s just something about smearing red lipstick and blue eyeshadow on their little face that brings joy to a toddlers heart. After a few years, kids will grow out of that phase and move on to something else. KK never grew out of that phase. If anything, her love for makeup grew immensely. Always in the books, Mikayla looked for a creative outlet to break up the monotony of her STEM coursework. She found that outlet in make up. She realized that her full lips were the perfect canvas for her lip color obsession. She has a collection of over 60 lip glosses alone! She came to her mother with the idea of starting a makeup company similar to the ones she frequented. She knew what her peers liked, she saw how they shopped and used that research to create her company OhSoSafi! She grabbed the term safi from the Swahili language, which loosely translates to fresh.
KK is currently working on building her inventory for her online business, and plans to open her shop some time in late summer 2018. She wants to make sure she’s open in time for the start of a new school year.
And speaking of school, did I mention that KK is  a rising Seniorin high school boasting a 4.2 GPA. While her rigorous class schedule (honors Chinese, honors Chemistry just to name a few) is preparing her to become a veterinarian, she hopes her business acumen helps to prepare her to own her own animal clinic.

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