LARGO – The Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) knows Prince George’s County is brimming with raw talents, and the EDC wants to get them while they’re young. Tiger Woods began his golf career at the age of two. Dakota Fanning began acting at five. Justin Bieber signed his first record deal at 13. […]
LARGO – The Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) knows Prince George’s County is brimming with raw talents, and the EDC wants to get them while they’re young.
Tiger Woods began his golf career at the age of two. Dakota Fanning began acting at five. Justin Bieber signed his first record deal at 13. And hundreds of children in Prince George’s County are hoping to open their own businesses before they even leave middle school.
At a special event last week, titled “Kidpreneur Day,” the EDC welcomed more than 100 county children, ages nine to 12, to the EDC office where they had a chance to learn business basics from professionals. They were also given the opportunity create a business plan, business cards and give a business pitch.
The day was also filled with Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Ledo’s Pizza, a NASA demonstration, a clown performance and keynote speeches from Gabrielle Jordan, who started her jewelry company when she was nine years old, and April Richardson, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of D.C. Sweet Potato Cakes.
EDC CEO Jim Coleman said he was inspired to create this “one-of-a-kind imitative” by both his experience as CEO of his family farm when he was 12 years old and by when he met Ava Valentine and Gabrielle Williams, who are both young county entrepreneurs.
“Kids at this age, when they’re nine to 12, this is when they’re most innovative. That’s when they’re most inquisitive. They want to learn and understand,” Coleman said. “And I want to tap into that before we start telling them to ‘shhhh, stop talking. Be quiet.’ I want them to be fired up. I want them to ask questions.”
Coleman met Williams through a business forum held at a community church in south county. Williams had brought her mom, Vernice Williams, along to the meetings so the two of them could seek out opportunities to grow her cupcake business.
Coleman said he was instantly inspired by Williams’ drive and came back to his team to immediately begin planning for a child-based business day, which Vernice said is an amazing opportunity for not only her daughter but other children with similar dreams and drive.
“A lot of times you see major corporations, they’re going for adults. The ones with the grand ideas: the Googles, the Yahoos,” Vernice said. “That’s where they’re going, and they’re not looking at our children anymore. So for them to have something like this or even consider doing this because of Gabrielle, it meant a lot to me.”
She said the EDC helped pave a path for her daughter to be successful, as Coleman took Williams under his wing and helped her learn how to make Glorious Pastries by Gabrielle successful.
“Words can’t explain how blessed I am,” Vernice said. “Because had it really not been for the Economic Development core team, none of this would be happening.”
Although the entire day was young adult focused, the course material did not do the knowledge-hungry business starters a disservice. Teachers from Operation HOPE, Inc. walked the students through profits and revenues, insurance options, taxes, desirable employee qualities and much more.
Audre Dabney, 10, was one of those children interested in creating his own business and his parents brought him to the workshop to learn more about the process.
Dabney dreams of becoming what he calls a car realtor, where he would take on clients and help them find a car by doing the research, cost evaluation and purchasing for them.
“People in my family are always asking me, ‘hey, I’m trying to get a new car. What car should I get?’ And because I like cars, they keep on asking me and I help them,” he said.
Dabney said he wants to help “pretty much everybody” 16 and older. He said one of the most important things he learned at the workshop is business people often help each other by networking and he and another a boy, who wants to start a clothing business, entered into a deal – he would help the other boy buy cars for his business in exchange for custom t-shirts.
While his parents take his passion seriously, Dabney said it means a lot to him that the EDC is taking him and other young entrepreneurs seriously too and helping them achieve their dreams.
Morgan Lytle is another young entrepreneur who is ready to take on the world and, specifically, help those with skin conditions get relief for their aliments and literally become comfortable in their own skin.
Her business, called Morgan Camille Skin Care, is known for its shea butter. She started the skin care line when she was 8 years old to help her cousin, who has a rare skin disease. Now, at 11, she hopes to grow her line to include an eczema cream to help her sister and a stretch mark cream.
She said she was incredibly excited to sit in a room with other people her age who are as focused on creating and growing a business and said she absolutely loves it at the EDC and is thankful they held the workshop.
“I think it means a lot, because I don’t think kids get taken that seriously. Like, when you walk up to a person on the street handing out business cards and they ask ‘is this your mother’s business,’” she said. “And then you say ‘no its mine’ and they laugh at you.”