Kierra Perkins is the founder of Kandles by Kierra, a collection of drink and dessert inspired scented candles, and Kids Idea Tank 2020 grand prize winner. (Courtesy photo)

By Daryl Moore
Special to the AFRO

Kids Idea Tank is a summer entrepreneurship competition for kids age 13 years or younger where kids pitch their ideas to a panel of Judges over Zoom. Prizes include $1,000 to the winner, $500 to 2nd place, and $500 to the audience favorite. 

Back in April 2019, children’s author Lowey Bundy Sichol, while on tour for her book series, “From An Idea To…”, was approached by children of all ages with their ideas for new products and businesses. Inspired by those interactions and the hit TV show “Shark Tank,” Lowey decided to create a kid entrepreneurship competition. 

“Imagine being 10-years old and pitching your idea to the chief executive officer of the Chicago Sun Times; or the founder of Stacy’s Pita Chips; or one of the top executives from Merrill Lynch; or the owner of the Chicago Blackhawks. That’s what we’ve given kids over the past three years at Kids Idea Tank. Not only do they receive priceless advice from the judges but kids also learn how to prepare, practice, and pitch – lifelong skills! Most kids don’t learn that at school,” said Sichol. 

One of the latest winners impacted by the contest is 2020 grand prize winner, Kierra Perkins, whose idea was Kandles By Kierra. “I make dessert and drink inspired candles,” explained Perkins. “I wanted to do something different for my dad for Father’s Day, so I looked up candle making videos and I made him the Chocolate Chip Cookie and Milk Kandle.”

Winning the Kids Idea Tank had a big influence on Perkins. “It was a real boost to my confidence. Winning a national competition made me feel that I could really be successful if I continue to pursue my dreams.”

Perkins said that winning the contest has allowed her to expand her business by not only introducing several new products into her line, but also by introducing her business to new people. On top of all that, Perkins is a published author, having written a book about how she started her business that encourages kids to become entrepreneurs.

Perkins is in her first year of high school but plans to continue along her entrepreneurial path by graduating college with a degree in business and further expanding her business. 

Perkins is exactly the type of success story Sichol was hoping for. 

“Having an impact on underrepresented demographic groups is very much the reason I created Kids Idea Tank,” Sichol said. “I want to make the voices and ideas of these children heard. What I’ve seen over the years when I visit schools is that kids from underrepresented demographic groups are often filled with the best, most creative ideas but don’t know what to do with them. We’ve helped launch some of the most incredible ‘kidpreneurs.’”

Sichol said she’s been wowed by the contest’s ability to connect and support incredibly passionate and innovative kids countrywide. She hopes contestants will look back at their time with Kids Idea Tank and determine that it did indeed change their lives for the better. She said the judges – entrepreneurs and executives of multi-million, sometimes multi-billion-dollar companies – have been incredibly supportive by participating in Kids Idea Tank and mentoring finalists. Often, it’s comes from their thought of “I wish I had this when I was a kid.” 

While Sichol created the event, she said that it is sponsored by PL$ and that she’s been blown away by their generosity throughout the year to support kids with ideas. She said this is especially important in the communities where PL$’s has stores – often in underserved communities – and her hope is that they find a hidden gem out there who goes on to change the world.  

“I’ve had parents tell me that Kids Idea Tank absolutely changed their child’s life and for the first time ever, their child had confidence in themselves and their ideas,” Sichol said. 

Perkins definitely fits in that category: “I like to encourage kids and tell them a young creative mind can grow a business and you do not have to wait until you’re an adult to reach your goals. Definitely enter the Kids Idea Tank competition. Believe in yourself and always follow your dreams. Everyone experiences failure when trying something new but your idea only needs to work once and suddenly, you’re a success. So, don’t give up!”

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