Happy Black History Month y’all!
One of the first things I tell my students once February rolls around is: Black History IS American History and Black History does NOT start with slavery. As someone who constantly thinks about and discusses the ways in which the world is messed up for people of the African Diaspora, it was nice to step back and rewire my brain to just CELEBRATE for once. In light of CREAD’s most recent Woke Cypha on the element of C.R.E.A.M., I decided to focus on young female entrepreneurs who are securing the bag and are certainly worthy of celebration.
Here are 10 young, black, bold and brilliant girls we should celebrate and share with our students!
1) Natalie McGriff: when she was just 7 years old, Natalie (who is now 10 years old) helped to inspire, design, and co-write a comic book that empowers young girls of color to love themselves. With the help of her mother, Natalie wrote “The Adventures of Moxie McGriff,” which follows Moxie’s life as she receives a special shampoo from her grandmother that gives her hair superpowers and aids her in fighting off monsters trying to eat all of the local library’s books. Since then, she has published a second comic book under the same series and you can follow her adventures here.
2) Egypt “Ify” Ufele: At the age of 5, Egypt started crafting outfits for her dolls and eventually learned how to use a sewing machine to fashion clothing for ALL body types. At school, Egypt was being bullied because of her body size. However, she didn’t let this stop her from launching a charity to combat bullying, BullyChasers, and her own clothing label called ChubiiLine by age 11. She debuted her line at New York Fashion Week in 2016. You can learn more about how Egypt slays fashion while speaking out against bullying here.
3) Taylor Moxey: 12-year-old Taylor is an entrepreneur, author and philanthropist who began building her business with a $40 loan from her parents. When she was 8 years old, she asked her parents for an expensive doll and they told her to find a way to make the money to buy it. Instead of getting upset or giving up, Taylor decided to bake and sell cookies and brownies after church to pay for the toy. After making more than enough to pay back her parents for the loan and to buy the doll she wanted, Taylor continued to sell her cookies and eventually started a cupcake company called “Taylor the Chef.” She has written books and motivational cards and started the Taylor Moxey Foundation to help other young people become social entrepreneurs. Learn more about how Taylor does it all here.
4) Mikaila Ulmer: When Mikaila was just 4 years old, her family encouraged her to participate in a Children’s business competition. After being stung by two bees in one week and seeing the recipe for Flaxseed Lemonade in her grandmother’s old cookbook, she decided she would start selling lemonade sweetened with local honey. At age 11, she secured $60,000 for her growing business on the show “Shark Tank” and was then able to score an $11 milion deal with Whole Foods. Mikaila believes:
“Entrepreneurs hold the American dream, and the biggest dreamers are kids…We dream big. We dream about things that don’t even exist yet. We believe in our dreams. We jump out of bed in the morning because we had the craziest idea and can’t wait to grab a notebook and get started. We believe in the impossible. We see possibilities, while others just see problems.” Learn more about this social entrepreneur here.
5) Marley Dias: When Marley was 11 years old, she realized that despite her love of reading, she was growing tired of mostly reading about white boys and dogs so she decided to do something about it. In November 2015, she launched a campaign called #1000BlackGirlBooks. Her goal was to collect and donate 1,000 books that feature black girls as the protagonist. Since then, 13-year-old Marley has accumulated more than 9,000 books and has even written her own: “Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You!” Follow Marley’s life and activism here.
6) Zuriel Oduwole: at the age of 10, Zuriel (who is of Nigerian and Mauritian descent) made history when she became the youngest person to be interviewed by Forbes. Two years later, she became the world’s youngest filmmaker to have a self-produced and self-edited work after her film screened in two movie chains and went global shortly afterwards. Zuriel’s documentaries focus on her advocacy work around ensuring that girls in Africa receive an education. She has met with more than 24 presidents and prime ministers to discuss her advocacy work and you can keep up with her projects here.
7) Asia Newson: at 5 years old, Asia started her own business selling candles that she bought wholesale. Now at 13, this young entrepreneur produces her own candles and her company was projected to make more than $100k in 2017. But Asia doesn’t call herself “Super Business Girl” for nothing. She has trained over 40 youth in Detroit to follow their dreams and become entrepreneurs. Asia advises aspiring entrepreneurs to “never give up. You can’t give up because you’re a child. And you can’t be afraid to fail.” Follow this Super Business Girl’s magic here.
8) Haile Thomas: 17-year-old Hailey is a motivational speaker, youth health advocate, and vegan chef. She learned how to cook when she was 5 years old and started exploring healthier cooking options after learning about her father’s Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. In 2012, Haile submitted a winning salad entry comprised of quinoa, black beans, and corn for Michelle Obama’s first White House Kid’s State Dinner. One year later, she founded The HAPPY Organization, to bring nutrition education to youth through cooking classes, summer camps, and in-school programs. Since then, Hailey has continued her advocacy work in health and you can stay up to date with her projects here.
9) Gabrielle Jordan Williams: Gabrielle is a 17-year-old entrepreneur, author, speaker and mentor. When she was 9 years old, she started her own luxury jewelry business Jewelz of Jordan. At 11 years old, Gabrielle published the book The Making Of A Young Entrepreneur: A Kid’s Guide To Developing The Mind-Set For Success and continues to inspire and mentor aspring young leaders and entrepreneurs through the ExCEL Youth Mentoring Institute, which she co-founded. You can follow Gabrielle’s journey here.
10) Maya Penn: Maya is an 18-year-old entrepreneur, philanthropist, animator, artist, and the CEO of her eco-friendly fashion company Maya’s Ideas. She started her company in 2008 at the age of 8 after finding out that certain clothing dyes and chemical processes were harmful to people and the environment, so she made her line eco-friendly. In addition to this, she is the creator of The Pollinators, an animated series which focuses on the importance of bees. In 2011, she founded her own nonprofit organization, Maya’s Ideas 4 The Planet. You can learn more about Maya’s social entrepreneurship and philanthropy here.
Here are 10 Black entrepreneurs pursuing their passions all while getting that shmoney (Cardi B. voice)! I wonder how many budding entrepreneurs are sitting in your classroom? What will you do to support them with their endeavors? How can you provide them with learning experiences that will bring out their inner hustler?
Holla at me @theradicalmaestra on IG.