Since 1987, the Kantner Foundation has supported the dreams, drive, and determination of young entrepreneurs. We’re proud to offer college scholarships to those high school students who demonstrate a passion for free enterprise and commitment to entrepreneurship.
But it’s not just our own recipients we admire. Young entrepreneurship can be found across America. As part of our commitment to rising stars of the business world, we love sharing the accomplishments of young entrepreneurs from a diverse range of backgrounds. It is our honor and pleasure, then, to showcase the following Black entrepreneurs on the rise.
1. ESSYNCE MOORE, FOUNDER OF ESSYNCE COUTURE
Essynce Couture is an upscale fashion line by teens, for teens. (And tweens. And kids.) In 2013, at just 11 years old, Ms. Moore started her company as a way for kids to wear stylish clothes that fit and were designed by a fellow kid. She combines her passion for fashion and for helping others through her company membership program. With this program, members can upload their report cards or school certificates of achievement to earn rewards at her (very cool) shop.
2. GABBY GOODWIN, FOUNDER OF GABBY BOWS AND CONFIDENCE HAIR PRODUCTS
Ms. Goodwin and her mother, Rozalynn Goodwin, were tired of hair bows that kept disappearing into the ether. So, in 2017, when Gabby was 10 years old, they invented the patented Double-Face Double-Snap barrette, and a young Black entrepreneur was born. Since then, Gabby has become the youngest person ever to win the title of South Carolina Young Entrepreneur of the Year, as well as one of Black Enterprise’s Teenpreneur of the Year. These days, her online boutique not only sells these sanity-saving hair accessories, but also a line of natural products designed for Black hair.
3. MIKAILA ULMER, FOUNDER OF ME AND THE BEES LEMONADE
How many successful entrepreneurs can say they got their start before kindergarten? Meet Ms. Ulmer, who made her first product at just four years old.
In the years since then, her business has taken off like a rocket. Her lemonade is sold in major retailers like Target, Whole Foods, Kroger, and others. She sells lip balms, tote bags, and even wrote her own book for other kid entrepreneurs! Ms. Ulmer works to save the bees via her Healthy Hive Foundation, has been featured on major national news networks, AND she travels around the country giving talks. We couldn’t “bee” more impressed!
4. NATALIE MCGRIFF, CREATOR OF “THE ADVENTURES OF MOXIE MCGRIFF”
When she was 7 years old, Ms. McGriff didn’t feel great about her hair or skin color. With some help from supportive adults around her, she created a character named Moxie McGriff, a confident and happy young Black woman.
Moxie McGriff is now the star of a series of books aimed at empowering and uplifting girls just like Natalie. Her website sells these books of encouragement, as well as lapel pins featuring the books’ characters.
We love seeing kids helping other kids!
5. BISHOP CURRY V, INVENTOR OF OASIS
Few things are more heartbreaking than hearing about child and infant deaths. This is what inspired young Mr. Curry to create a GoFundMe page so he could manufacture his invention: a device that detects when an infant or small child has been left in a car, notifies parents and police, and blows cool air on the child until help arrives.
And he did this when he was 10 years old.
Thanks to help from his father, a Toyota employee, Mr. Curry has since patented his product and now travels the country giving talks and showcasing his invention. Who knows how many lives will be saved thanks to this creative and caring young Black man?
6. MOZIAH BRIDGES, CREATOR AND FOUNDER OF MO’S BOWS
No list of young entrepreneurs would be complete without this remarkable young man. Mr. Bridges began creating his own line of bowties when he was 9 years old because he wanted to look stylish but couldn’t find anything that suited him. (Pun intended.)
Now, Mo’s Bows is a global enterprise. He’s created bow ties for Barack Obama and every team in the NBA. He’s been on Time’s list of “Most Influential Teens” twice, and is mentored by none other than Daymond John of “Shark Tank.” Mr. Bridges also runs the “Go Mo!” scholarship fund (yay!) which helps send kids in Memphis, TN, to summer camp.
Not bad for a kid who just wanted to rock a bowtie!
7. KHERIS ROGERS, FOUNDER OF FLEXIN’ IN MY COMPLEXION
Imagine being tagged on IG by Grammy-winner Alicia Keys, or collaborate with Lupita Nyong’o! Now, imagine you’re still in your teens, running a super awesome business!
Ms. Roger’s clothing and accessories lines are inspired by the pride she feels in herself and wants others to feel. Her Sulwe line, in collaboration with Ms. Nyong’o, donates a portion of all profits to The Africa Center in New York City.
We love seeing young entrepreneurs who are full of confidence go out there and inspire their communities!
8. MICHAEL ‘MIKEY’ WREN, FOUNDER OF MIKEY’S MUNCHIES VENDING
Here’s a kid with a head for business!
Mr. Wren started his vending machine business in 2015, at 8 years old. He now owns 12 vending machines and has written books to help young entrepreneurs get started in their own businesses.
But he’s so much more than a massively successful young entrepreneur. Mr. Wren takes his know-how and experience and uses them to help fellow kidtrepreneurs. He offers a masterclass called “I Am an Entrepreneur,” and a workshop called “Money Smart Kids.” He also hosts an annual toy drive in his community and has donated over $10,000 in new clothes to kids.
We just love strong community leaders like Mr. Wren, and we’re excited to see where the future takes him! Young entrepreneurship is a wonderful goal that can be achieved at any age – by anyone. Whatever your dream, we know you can start a business and become a top leader in your community!
Are you a Florida-based young entrepreneur looking for a college scholarship? Click here to learn more about how the Kantner Foundation can help you!