Long Island's youngest Black entrepreneurs on the rise

Elisa DiStefano interviews Samara St. Preus , 11, of Lindenhurst at Roomers gift shop in Lindenhurst on Feb. 2. Credit: Randee Daddona

There’s a company that carries a large assortment of products for children — including onesies, hoodies, hats, backpacks, T-shirts, hair care products, bracelets and lip balm — and the CEO of the brand isn't who you'd expect.

She’s only 6 years old, and is one of a number of rising Black Long Islanders no older than teenagers who already own businesses. And we’re not talking lemonade stands. Another has had a pop-up at West Elm and she’s just 11.

So, in commemoration of Black History Month, here's an introduction to some of the youngest go-getters to watch:


AGE: 6



SHOP: amiachantelcollection.com

In time off from school, when her peers might be out playing, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to find Amia Chantel, of Amityville, thinking about the next product she wants to launch — and what fun color she’d like it to be.

Amia is CEO of Amia Chantel Collection, an online business she started at 3, “with the help of my mommy,” Shamika Dawson. The 1st grader at Amityville Elementary School offers a wide variety of things for her core customer — girls from six months old to teenagers. They range from clothing, beanies, Play Date boxes and sleeping bonnets, to satin pillowcases, charms, keychains and more.

Amia Chantel, 6, owns her own company with a cartoon character of her face branding most of her products.  Credit: Howard Simmons

Lip gloss, hair oils, moisturizer, hoodies, shirts, lunchboxes and all labels are made by Amia and her mother at home. Everything else comes from a vendor or manufacturer.

And all products carry Amia’s logo — a cartoon inspired by a photograph of Amia when she was 3.

The business started as a hobby. Amia had a passion for lip gloss, so she and her mother began making it at home. Then in 2019 they took their show on the road and started selling their creations at Amia’s brother, Shamir’s, youth football games. Pop-ups followed.

Ideas for products largely come from Amia, and her mother does her best “to make it happen.” The brand is known for its positive messages for “brown girls” on some items, and for featuring nearly everything in bright and happy colors that are always selected by Amia. Amia says she wants to help make her young customers feel confident, “fashionable” and “pretty.”

Also a Roosevelt Rough Rider cheerleader for the youth football league, Amia says she’d like to open a brick-and-mortar shop one day, and eventually have stores open worldwide. 


AGE: 18



WEBSITE: theroyalchance.com

Clothing designer Bryan Urbain Richard, of Westbury, wants his customers to think big.

The 18-year-old is owner of The Royal Chance (theroyalchance.com), an online unisex clothing brand he started last year. According to its website, “The Royal Chance brand seeks to dispel the negative myths and stereotypes of BIPOC while impacting culture through fashion.”

BIPOC is an acronym for Black, Indigenous and People of Color; and Bryan wants young people with these backgrounds to understand they are descendants of ancient royalty, and therefore they should be proud of their heritage and motivated to succeed.

Most of Bryan’s designs come only in black, with the brand featuring mostly T-shirts, hoodies and shorts. He also has a Black History Month collection.

Designer Bryan Urban Richard displays clothing from his "The Black...

Designer Bryan Urban Richard displays clothing from his "The Black History Month Collection" at his home in Westbury on Feb. 5. Credit: Jeff Bachner

“It’s like a go-to color for most people," he says. "Black makes a statement without having to do much, and I want people to be able to do the same when they wear apparel by The Royal Chance.”

Bryan’s father, Urbain, inspired Bryan to start his own business. An entrepreneur who owns a Haitian music company, he wants to build generational wealth in his family of six children. One of Bryan’s sisters is also an entrepreneur, with a wig business in Dallas, Texas.

Bryan, a business management major at Five Towns College in Dix Hills, says, “Watching how hard he works motivates me to get up and work.”

To start The Royal Chance, Bryan used money from graduation presents. “To pay for my first new release design, I utilized a preorder mechanism.” The website launched in November. “I used social media to spread the word, wore my clothing in public prior to its release, marketed with my family, and distributed business cards to random businesses.”

Bryan designs and creates his fashions at home using a press-on heat transfer machine.


AGE: 9



WEBSITE: prettylittleprincess7.com

A lot of little girls think of themselves as princesses, but Journei Mone’t takes that fantasy to another level. The Amityville resident has become used to wearing a luxurious silk robe and tiara, sitting on a “throne,” and holding court.

That’s because 9-year-old Journei and her mother, Ti’Asia Mone’t, are CEOs of Pretty Little Princess By Journei (prettylittleprincess7.com) — a spa for children on West Oak Street in Amityville. There, children ages 3 to 14 can get facials, manis and pedis, and enjoy off-site events like princess slumber parties at area hotels. The business started in June 2021 as a traveling spa, and in November of that year its “Spa Suite” opened.

“I felt bad the little girls couldn’t go to spas where their parents go, so I opened my own business so they don’t feel left out,” Journei adds. “My favorite is the facials.” Depending on the service or package, visitors can sip sparkling cider or pink lemonade served in flute glasses, munch on treats like cotton candy, cupcakes, or pizza; or indulge in games like bobbing for doughnuts.

The pampering business runs in the family. Two of Journei’s aunts own their own hair salons, and Journei and her mother for years had gone regularly to an adult nail salon in West Babylon to get their nails done.

Journei, described by Ti‘Asia as having a “splash of sass” and “diva” in her personality, sometimes does nails at Pretty Little Princess. She always does a TikTok at the end of each customer’s visit. Adult staff members regularly do the manicures, pedicures, and facials and when requested, makeup.


AGE: 11



WEBSITE: samarascents.com

It was the early days of the pandemic that gave 11-year-old Samara St. Preux and her mother, Donesia, the idea of creating the home fragrance brand, Samara Scents in 2020.

“During the pandemic, we bonded through crafting and Samara really enjoyed blending oils and making new scents,” Donesia says. “I was bored in quarantine, so my mom taught me how to make a lot of things, including candles,” Samara adds. “We started the company when I was 8.”

Samara St. Preux, 11, of Lindenhurst, owns the online company...

Samara St. Preux, 11, of Lindenhurst, owns the online company Samara Scents. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

The mother/daughter duo started out selling their candles at Greenpoint Terminal Market in Brooklyn and have done pop-ups at Long Island stores including West Elm at Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station and Roomors gift shop in Lindenhurst. 

“A few months after we started candles, we added wax melts … and last year we started room sprays,” says Samara, a 6th grader at Lindenhurst Middle School. “My parents always tell me that I can do anything, and they are always there to help me.” Her mother says she manages the business side of the brand while Samara, “continues to design and inspire the products.”

All candles, melts and room sprays are handcrafted, and there are more than 20 scents available, made in the mother and daughter team’s “home studio.”

“My mom helped me with learning how to make candles and designing the look of everything. She also built the website,” Samara says. “We make a lot of our blends, so you can’t find them anywhere else.”

Samara says some scents are inspired by experiences mother and daughter have shared together.

“We love the beach so our summer collection smells beachy and like fruity drinks,” Samara adds.

Samara says in the future she sees the business continuing to expand — possibly to body products — but she adds balancing school and Samara Scents can be challenging. She devotes a few hours a day to the company, and must do homework too. She adds, “It’s not easy.”


AGE: 10



WEBSITE: meeraempowerment.org

By the age of 4, Selene Meera Ferdinand, of Elmont, already had a lot on her plate.

“I started cooking at Ronald McDonald House, preparing meals for the elderly, being a volunteer at Island Harvest, Mid-Island Y JCC, and collecting empty water bottles and recycling them for Building Homes for Heroes,” Selene says. “And with that mindset, I decided to create my own nonprofit organization in 2020.”

The 5th grader at Dutch Broadway Elementary School in Elmont founded Meeraempowerment.org, a youth leadership and community service program.

Selene describes herself as a youth advocate. “Lots of girls and boys are getting shamed every day ‘cause of how big or small they are, how short or tall they are, or because of the color of their skin,” she says, adding that she does her advocacy work nationwide.

“No matter what size you are or the color of your skin, you are special and unique,” Selene says she tells young people. “I do fun fashion shows, tea parties, and classes teaching boys and girls different life skills such as cooking, sewing, and modeling.”

Also at 4 years old, Selene entered the world of pageants, and has won title, after title, after title.

Selene Ferdinand, 10, of Elmont, founder of the non-profit organization, Meeraempowerment.org, also has a history competing in beauty pageants and helped write this book sold on Amazon.   Credit: Savitre (cq) Ferdinand

“It’s not just about pageants; it’s about girls like me building self-confidence and going after their dreams. The skills I learned from pageantry I bring back to my community to empower youth.”

Along with nearly 20 other pageant queens from throughout the country, at 9 years old Selene also helped write the book, “Road to the Crown.” Selene says, “It’s about “our journey through pageantry” and the benefits received from the experience. Sold on Amazon, Volume III is scheduled for release in June.

With money raised through fashion shows and other events, Selene’s organization has contributed to Building Homes for Heroes, cancer research, and the fight against world hunger. Building Homes for Heroes builds or modifies homes and gives them mortgage-free to injured veterans and their families.

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