With rows of vegetable-filled wooden crates, homemade products and local art, farmers markets offer a wide variety of products for visitors but have never generally been known as a source of entrepreneurial inspiration.
Nine-year-old Jelani Jones of Fredericksburg, Va., is challenging that notion, however, after a Saturday trip to the local farmers market sparked a business idea.
When her favorite vendor invited her to a class on how to make bath products, Jelani jumped at the chance. In the class, she learned how to make a number of products, such as bath bombs, a hard-packed mixture of dry ingredients that foams when wet.
“After we left my first class, I talked about a business and my mom asked what I would call my business and I said Lani Boo Bath,” Jelani said.
What her mom thought was just a conversation was nothing less than serious to Jelani. After her parents helped cover the start-up cost of ingredients, the young entrepreneur was able to make her first batch of bath bombs. She decided to post the pictures on Facebook, which prompted people to ask where they could order. From there, Jelani grew the company through the power of social media.
Her products are shipped around the country now, but when she first started, Jelani’s clientele consisted solely of community members. Friends, family and members of her church decided to invest in her product when it first launched.
“The community has been amazing! People always say how proud they are of me and how I am inspiring them and how they are considering their children’s ideas more,” Jelani said. “People in my community have reached out to buy from me because they know I am a young person and that means a lot to me.”
Pulling inspiration for her products from traveling, Jones’ most-popular items are her bath bombs, especially Lavender, Sweet Pea, Eucalyptus Spearmint and Mango Papaya, she said.
The straight “A” student and entrepreneur has learned the importance of time management and has a schedule to keep her days organized. But it’s not all work and no play for this business owner.
“Sometimes, I have self-care Sundays where I enjoy some of my bath bombs and soaps. I also love to hang out with my best friends Kyndal and Destinee, who also have businesses named D’s Tees and Kindles Kandles,” Jelani said. “I play basketball during the season and I like to hang out with my family. I have a really big family.”
Jelani’s advice for others who want to start their own business is to find your supporters, investigate and plan, and then start your business. Most importantly, she says, you must believe in yourself.
“Most kids are already creative. They not only need to hear that they can do anything, but parents need to help them be successful,” Jelani said.