In traditional Black History Month fashion, we often regurgitate the popular rhetoric and praise familiar faces. In loving contrast to tradition, I want to salute a couple of individuals who in their late teens have already created their own careers and the careers of over 200 others. These are my top young entrepreneurs under 21.
Excerpt From BMWK:
First up, is Jaylen Bledsoe, CEO of Bledsoe Technologies, a tech company that specializes in web design and information technology. The fact that Bledsoe Technologies is worth nearly 3.5 million dollars may not surprise you. What is truly fascinating, however, is that the company was founded four years ago by then 12-year-old Jaylen.
Since then, Bledsoe Technologies has become the number one information technology consultancy firm operated by a minor in the Mid-West. The company has grown from two employees to nearly 150 contracted workers in order to meet demand for its services.
Attending classes at his school’s gift-education program, Mr. Bledsoe developed an interest in web design, which created the motivation for starting his own company. Jaylen’s company now provides online marketing campaigns, e-commerce solutions, corporate branding, and technology consulting to small and mid-sized businesses.
The young entrepreneur’s best advice: “Keep going, move forward and always take risks.”
And the young man is just getting started. He is currently working on a new project that allows customers to check into their hotel rooms with their cell phones and use the phone as a room key. He eventually has sights set on attending Harvard University.
Excerpt from The Grio
Next on my list of young entrepreneurs is Ms. Leanna Archer. CEO of Leanna’s Hair, a line of natural hair and body care products. When she was nine years old her mother would make hair pomade using natural ingredients from Haiti and a secret recipe passed down from her great-grandmother. After getting multiple compliments on her hair, Leanna gave her friends a few samples of the pomade and from there the orders started pouring in.
After researching how to start a business online, Leanna convinced her parents it was time to start selling a line of hair and body products. After starting the business in her basement, Archer’s parents eventually quit their full-time jobs to help her mix, package and send out the products to customers.
Archer’s line includes shampoos, conditioners, lotions and more, infused with avocado, hibiscus and other natural oils. All of Archer’s products are available online. She also gives other youth the opportunity to venture into business by offering Leanna’s Inc. “Kid Rep.” spots all over the country to young people seeking to sell and distribute her products.
Now 17, Leanna earns an annual revenue of more than $100,000 per year.
There’s nothing more empowering than seeing someone who is treading new ground in the present moment. We’ve heard so many of the same stories about the same great individuals that the message begins to lose its impact.
The fact that these are young people defining for themselves, who they want to be speaks to the reality that our community is ready to balance the playing field. We must begin implementing self-reliance themed curriculum into our schools, and begin moving with a spirit of expectation. Alexander Pop said, “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed. Bruce Lee, to Paulo Coelho, has phrased this same ideology. It’s a seemingly popular belief that a life should be lead without expectation of anything to prevent disappointment.
Well, I challenge that belief by saying that the expectation of nothing, is nothing more than an excuse to relinquish personal responsibility. We are all interdependent upon one another, and if an individual does not live up to his potential, he places a burden on the whole. I would challenge everyone especially parents to set high expectations for their children and their families. For one, it gives your child guidance and something to strive for. And most importantly, as a parent, the expectations you place on your child or family directly relate to you as well. You force yourself to raise your sights and your efforts to ensure that you can walk the walk.
If you are reading this and wondering, what does this have to do with Inglewood? It has everything to do with our city. Our students need to see themselves in positions of importance, and position of power. It heightens their scope of what’s possible, and inspires them to want to achieve more. Big Inglewood salute to Jayden Bledsoe and Leanna Archer for their pursuit of excellence. We wish you much success.