Young entrepreneurs like 10-year-old Amari Washington gathered at the District Heights Municipal Building to display and grow their budding businesses.
On Aug. 12, Forestville, Md.-based MOST-Visions Performing Arts Company hosted its 1st Youth Entrepreneur Expo. The expo encouraged business development for business-minded boys and girls. According to the organization’s website, it aids young people in realizing and actualizing their full potential.
“Well I wanted to have other people express themselves. Sometimes people can’t express themselves a lot because sometimes people question what they wear or what they think of themselves,” Washington told the AFRO while manning his table of custom-handmade bowties.
Washington said he was inspired by his mother, Shika Cope, also in fashion design. Washington began assisting Cope in her business endeavors, and soon after he turned his creativity into a marketable product.
Cope, also at the expo in support of her son, told the AFRO Washington’s business was partly his own idea. She said he was inspired by fashion when she brought him with her to shop for his clothes.
“Let’s encourage kids through your eyes on how to still be fly, comfortable, trendy, but still fashion forward. You know, just kind of combining all of that into one. So I take him to the fabric store, he sees what he likes, he picks it out, we go home, we get on the machine, and we make it and we rock it out,” Cope said.
The expo included 16 businesses that showcased their products, including jewelry, make-up, and lessons of various kinds.
Another young entrepreneur created her own cosmetic line entitled “On the Run Gloss.” Being a fan of lippies, or lip gloss, 15-year-old Na’Shea Wagoner brought her cosmetic line idea to the attention of her mother and family friend. “I started in April. I really like lips, like lippies. So I was like, I’m not about to keep buying them from MAC [MAC Cosmetics] when I can just do it myself and wear it. So why not?” Wagoner told the AFRO.
The Youth Entrepreneur Expo also featured a local appearance from WKYS DC Radio personality Deja Perez. Inspired by MOST-Visions work and mission, Perez said she came out to support and speak to the young entrepreneurs.
“These kids – some of them are like 8, 9. There’s a boy that’s been writing books since he was 8. They’re literally making me want to step my game up, it’s out of control,” she told the AFRO.
Perez toured the auditorium and spoke individually with multiple young entrepreneurs about their start-up businesses.
“The best advice I can probably give is just don’t quit, like that’s really the best thing because I didn’t go to school for radio but I’m doing it now. And there were a lot of people that told me I would never do it, and I’m still doing it. So just kind of persevere even when people tell you, you can’t do it, you’ve got to listen to your inner voice if you know it’s for you, if you know it’s your passion, just keep pushing on,” she said.