“Shark Tank” watch out: The next generation of entrepreneurs is coming for you.
Tweens and teens from Long Island will be selling their products at the Q.B. Generational Change Young Entrepreneurs Youth Expo on Aug. 5 in Garden City. These beginners are learning the basics of business — creating their own jewelry to sell, promoting products for kids of color and hawking their homemade lip balm.
Belinda Watkins of Freeport founded the Q.B. Generational Change to help children who want to launch their own enterprises. “I’m an adult, and it’s hard finding help for business. Imagine if there was a child?” she says she thought when starting the not-for-profit. “I give them a platform to expose their businesses.”
Meet some of the 30 young vendors expected to participate in the expo, and hear advice from them (and their parents) on how other motivated kids can get started:
Pick your passion
Tiarra Sky Poke, 14, of North Babylon, started her business, called Pretty Booked and Busy, when she was in sixth grade. “When I entered middle school, it was hard for me to keep up with classes because it was so new,” she says. So, she went shopping for planners to help her keep track of assignments. But none of them pictured girls who looked like her.
“I wanted pictures of girls with big hair and people of color,” Tiarra says. “When I created my business, at first I pictured in my head what I wanted and then I looked for it and contacted different sellers. My mom helped me out.”
The duo was able to find suppliers of string bags and totes with pictures of Black girls, and they ship directly to buyers who order on her website. Tiarra also added bracelets that say “Dope Black Girl” that she puts together herself.
Amea-Kay Holley, 11, of Port Washington, started making vegan lip gloss in 2020 because she can’t use many mainstream beauty products, she says. “I get an allergic reaction, a rash. I like lip gloss a lot and there wasn’t really a lot for me to wear. I asked my mom, ‘Can I make my own vegan lip gloss?’ and she said ‘That would be cool.’”
Ask an adult for help
Tanasia Poke, 42, who works for National Grid, says she didn’t know any more than Tiarra when Tiarra came to her and her husband with the idea for an online boutique. “When she said she wanted to create a website, I thought, ‘Where can we go to get more information?' It’s how we landed with Q.B. Generational Change.” She also took Tiarra to a "kidpreneur" program that taught children about business plans. “Take the first step; it gets them fired up to continue on their dream,” Poke says.
Some parents may choose to create an LLC for their child’s undertaking. That’s what Khadijah Holley, 46, mother of Amea-Kay, chose to do for their Gumdrop Glam LLC lip gloss business. She filed simple paperwork with New York State to do so.
Do your research
“Our mom has a little business. Our dad has a little business. So, we wanted to have a little business,” says Kiya Henry, 11, of Central Islip, who, with her older sister, Nia, 12, makes lip balm that they sell online at TheBeeAmazingShop.com.
“We're a family of entrepreneurs; I think it’s only natural they would evolve into the space,” says dad Rawl Henry, 52, who sells a private label coffee brand. Mom Hetheru Ankhbara, 42, writes children’s books. The girls had made lip balm as a hobby, so they decided they would transform that into their business enterprise.
Mom and dad helped the girls do research. “Not only the subject, but the market,” Rawl Henry says. “If you make it yourself, that’s more research. Research how to make the product.”
Explains Kiya: “We just got the base of the lip balm. We melt it, get a mold, take off the excess and put a cap on. Then we label it. We have different colors based on the flavor. It says ‘Bee Amazing Lip Balm.’ Then there’s a cute little bee next to it.”
Holley, who works in cancer research regulation, says she helped Amea-Kay learn how to make her lip gloss. “I began to search ‘How to make all natural lip gloss,’ ” she says. She found a company that sells a vegan base. “We add our own products to make it ours,” she says. Then they did test runs. “We had a batch that was a fail because it was too sticky,” Holley says. They eventually hit on a formula. They offer 10 flavors — Amea-Kay says her favorite flavor is cotton candy; Mom is partial to bubble gum.
You don’t need to invest a lot of money, or time
“If you’re starting small, you don’t have to go too crazy,” Rawl Henry says. He says it took a couple of hundred dollars to launch the lip balm endeavor. The girls make the lip balm 50 at a time about once a month, they say. Tiarra started her business with money she got for birthday presents. Because some of her products are shipped by the wholesaler, she doesn’t have to spend a lot of time on filling the orders and doesn’t need on-hand inventory. Most of her efforts are aimed at doing pop-up vendor shows like the Q.B. expo and updating her offerings, Tanasia Poke says.
Holley invested more money in Gumdrop Glam, launching the product with a party with a D.J. and food and product T-shirts. She says she invested about $10,000 and that she and Amea-Kay have earned about $8,000 back so far by selling primarily through a small boutique that has since closed and pop-up events. Amea-Kay says she makes lip gloss about once every two months, 200 tubes at a time.
Focus on the learning experience
“She does turn a profit, but that’s not the goal,” Poke says of Tiarra’s Pretty Booked and Busy. “It’s really transitioned into more of a learning experience about business.”
That’s what Rachna Patel, 45, of Hicksville, hopes for her daughter as well. She says she encouraged Tisha, 9, who is going into fourth grade, to create her own jewelry after Patel saw other children selling products at a Q.B. Generational Change Youth Expo last year.
Tisha makes bracelets, necklaces and earrings from beads. “When I was there, I saw that these young kids were doing incredible things and I was so inspired by that,” says Patel, who sells life insurance. “I’m in the finance field. I want her to understand money very early in her life. I want her to understand the value of money.”
Young Entrepreneurs Expo
WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 5, inside Raymour & Flanigan store, 895 East Gate Blvd., Garden City
COST Free to visitors; expo was $100 per young entrepreneur
INFO 516-331-1391, qbgenerationalchange.org