4 Awesome Atlanta Kid Entrepreneurs
These ambitious youngsters started their careers early. Mix together lots of passion, a little know-how, supportive parents and time on your hands thanks to a pandemic. What do you get? Some very creative kid-owned businesses. Here’s a look at a few that have popped up in Atlanta.
Zoe Oli, 9, Owner of Beautiful Curly Me
At 6 years old, Zoe Oli didn’t like her hair and wanted straight hair like her classmates. Her mom, Evana Oli, did everything she could to boost Zoe’s confidence, including buying a Black doll. But she wished the doll had hair that looked like hers. When they couldn’t find an appropriate doll, Zoe created her own. “Beautiful Curly Me empowers young Black girls to be confident in who they are with dolls who have curls and braids,” she says.
The brand started with Leyla and Anika, two dolls who have curly hair and braids. Now, they also offer outfits, hair care, apparel, puzzles and more, including two books written by Zoe that are designed to teach girls they can do anything they put their minds to.
For every doll purchased, the company also donates one to an underserved girl. They also have a Gift-A-Doll campaign where customers can purchase a doll to go to My Sister’s House – Atlanta Mission, along with other organizations. “We wanted to instill confidence in girls all over the world no matter what they’re going through,” Zoe says.
Zoe has been able to make a big difference in her community through her business. “I have learned that my voice can make a difference when I hear people talk about how amazing it is that I run my business and when customers tell me their daughters feel confident.”
In the future, Zoe, who also plays piano and tennis, wishes to expand Beautiful Curly Me into a global brand. “I see us continuing to reach the lives of girls all around the world. I see us in many stores, such as Target, Macy’s and Ulta. We started donating last year, and I’m looking forward to doing that more. I see us expanding our toy line and writing more books. I’m working on a couple now. I see me having a TV show to spread my message of confidence, and I’m working on getting out a podcast interviewing other kidpreneurs starting next year.”
Find products and more information at beautifulcurlyme.com. Dolls start at $69, hair care products range from $21-$30 and books and empowering products are $9-$19.
Tyler Sullivan, 11, Owner of Sully’s Salsa
Tyler Sullivan loves entertaining himself with video games. But in June 2020, his mom, Kristen Sullivan, noticed multiple charges to her credit card for “Fortnite.” To help him learn his lesson, his parents took away his electronic devices and asked him to pay back the money. After a week of doing chores, he’d only earned $10 and was looking for a better way to make more money.
When his dad has his friends over, he serves them salsa, so Tyler got the idea to turn the salsa into a business. He picked peppers from their own garden to create recipes. “I tried it without peppers, but I didn’t think it was as good,” he says. “Other people would recommend flavors when I sold to them, and we were trying to find what tasted better to us and other people. When it was really, really good, I stopped adding ingredients and started selling it as is.” Made with tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapenos and habanero peppers, the flavors available are mild and hot.
Besides learning not to use his parents’ cards without permission, Tyler has also learned about finances and revenue. “I would count cash on the way home from farmer’s markets, and my dad would explain profit and revenue, paying for jars and ingredients,” he says.
Tyler enjoys feeling like a local celebrity. “It feels pretty cool. I’ll see somebody I don’t really know, but they’ll recognize me from the salsa jar,” he says. He also hopes to expand the business. “I’d like to go on ‘Shark Tank.’ I’ve always wanted to be a celebrity, so if it takes off, that’d be really cool,” he adds. “We’re also trying to get into Kroger and Whole Foods.”
It can be hard to put aside his own interests and hobbies to make salsa and the business a priority. This summer, Sully’s Salsa sold at three different farmer’s markets at the same time, which meant the family wasn’t able to have free weekends. But they made $1,500 to $2,000 in one Saturday, making the early mornings worth it.
Tyler has inspired other kids in his neighborhood and friend group to start their own businesses. “If you think you can’t do it, you can,” he says.
Find Sully’s Salsa at sullyssalsa.com. Salsa is available in 16-oz. size for $10.
Lilly Collins, 7, Author of “Dr. TT and Friends Sharing is Caring”
This cute book introduces readers to Lilly Collins, who hopes to be a doctor, along with her seven stuffed animals who have magically been brought to life. The book was published July 2021. “I got the idea for the story because I want to
become a doctor and I like my stuffed animals,” she says.
The book was published through her father’s company, Legacy Voice
Productions. Luther Collins, Lilly’s dad, started the publishing and media platform for new and first-time authors. They worked with an illustrator to add color to Lilly’s words. She based the characters on her own stuffed animals. Lilly,
whose nickname is Dr. TT, is shown wearing a doctor’s coat to depict her future adult ambition. “I want to become a doctor because I like this TV show, ‘Doc McStuffins.’ When I’m a doctor, I want to help people become big and strong, so they can be healthy, too,” she says.
One element that sets her book apart is the coloring pages at the end. “It was my mom’s idea because my mom knows I really like to color. Including coloring pages makes it special; no other book does that,” she says. Besides writing, Lilly also enjoys playing with her little brother and spending time with her family.
She’s always been interested in stories and is currently working on another book to turn Dr. TT into a series, along with a book called “Dad and I,” which is a celebration of her relationship with her father and how they get to have fun together at the end of the day.
Nayeli Tripp-Damian, 13, Owner of Little Jars Bakeshop
Nayeli Tripp-Damian started Little Jars Bakeshop at 11 years old during the coronavirus pandemic. She and her mom, Katie Tripp, were delivering mini cake jars for friends and family when she began thinking running a business would be a cool opportunity. The company celebrated its one-year anniversary in October.
“I’ve learned so much in one year,” Nayeli says. In the last year, they’ve sold 160 cakes alone. “My mom taught me a couple of things about baking. I would hang out in the kitchen and learn from watching her. But during quarantine, our oven broke down, so I used the Crock Pot to try making banana bread. My family and neighbors liked it, and that started my love for baking and creating things. I had a lot of time to try new things and bake a lot.”
She gets most of her recipes online, trying new ones until she finds the right recipe before tweaking them to her liking. She’s also learned from a pastry teacher and taken online courses. When customers don’t have a specific design in mind, she gets to try new decorating techniques. “I just try it,” Nayeli says. “Sometimes, it turns out really cool on the first try. I see ideas on social media and make them my own.”
Her recipe repertoire includes cake pops, cheesecake, hot chocolate bombs, carrot cake, bonbons, truffles and more. “I love eating cheesecakes, and I love making them, too,” she says. “With a lot of three-layer regular cakes, I get to do whatever I want and be creative. That’s really fun.”
Nayeli and her family have learned a lot through experience. Joining a local women’s community helped the mother-daughter duo exchange ideas and learn more about marketing and running a business from other women. “I think a lot of it’s been trial and error and trying to make friends and getting support from them,” Nayeli says. “We didn’t know what we were doing. I thought I was going to make one or two cakes and some hot chocolate bombs, but we’d sold about 100 before we’d made one.”
The business has expanded; they’ve bought a second oven and have three fridges to accommodate orders, which are scheduled out through April 2022. As a seventh grader who also participates in competitive dance, Nayeli has had to learn how to manage her time properly. She admits to being a perfectionist and having to learn when to let go. “I thought everything was going to be great and would have a meltdown when things didn’t go my way,” she says. “But it’s worth it for fun things, like the charity events, festivals and seeing people’s reactions to my creations.”
The business has allowed Nayeli to save money for big life events. She hopes to buy a car on her own when she turns 16, pay for college and go on a trip to Africa. Little Jars Bakeshop also donates 15% of their earnings every month to a charity.
Since the pressure is rewarding, she has no plans to stop. “I want to go to pastry school in France,” she says. “I take French right now, and it’s so fun. I’d love to study there and have a pastry shop.”
Learn more about Little Jars Bakeshop at littlejarsbakeshop.com. Desserts cost from $1.50-$40+.
Tricks of the Trade: Helpful Hints from our Kidpreneurs
Zoe says: For kids who want to start their own business, use your support system. And remember that there are always people alongside you who will help you, and don’t be afraid to come to them for help. Don’t be afraid to get started.
Tyler says: It’ll get a lot easier once your business is up and running and you know what you’re doing, but it’s a fun experience. Have an open mind to what’s going to happen. You never know, it could turn into Amazon, so why not give it a shot? Think outside the box to be more creative.
Lilly says: I hope that other kids know that they can dream big, believe big, and create their happy ending. For kids who are interested in writing their own stories, go ahead and write big and dream big.
Nayeli says: Be realistic about your expectations. It’s not going to be all sunshine and rainbows. You have to learn from your mistakes and grow.