Young and Powerful
I had the pleasure of interviewing young and successful entrepreneur Gabrielle Jordan Williams recently. This interview is reproduced below. If you would like to learn more about what this amazing young woman is doing with her business and with her life visit her website. For more stories and inspiration read the rest of the Compassion issue of the #BeYou Campaign newsletter.
You Can Live Your Dream At Any Age
By: Nicole Nurse
“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
― John Holmes
Meet Gabrielle Jordan Williams, a motivational speaker, entrepreneur, author, and young leader that turned her ideas into a reality. At the tender age of seven, Gabrielle discovered that she could create a business out of the bracelets she loved to make for her friends. She loved everything about jewelry and found her passion very early in life. What started out as show and tell for other kids her age, quickly grew into a synergistic bundle of entrepreneurial greatness. Two years later, at just nine years old, this budding kid entrepreneur turned her obsession into a promising business venture called Jewelz of Jordan. Thereafter, she would create ExCEL, a youth mentoring institute that teaches aspiring entrepreneurs the steps to achieving their dreams early on in life. Gabrielle is the author of The Making of a Young Entrepreneur, A Kid's Guide to Developing the Mindset for Success. She is the youngest member to be on the board of the Great Black Speakers Bureau, was the recipient of the International Trendsetter Award presented by Alpha Alpha Sigma- Baltimore Chapter, and had an opportunity to speak for a TED Talk event. Most recently Gabrielle was acknowledged by Black Girls Rock and invited to celebrate her award on Black Entertainment Network (BET). There, she met numerous influential people including First Lady, Michelle Obama.
Where did Gabrielle’s creativity, drive and determination come from? What happened when kids in school made fun of what she was doing? Gabrielle gave us some insight into her life and business journey when she sat down with us for a chat. Here is some of what Gabrielle had to say about dealing with critics, bringing other kids along with her on her road to success, and taking risks in life.
BeYou: How did you get started in your business
GJW: I loved jewelry from a young age and taught myself how to make it at 7 years old. I learned from videos on YouTube then started the jewelry business at 9 years old. The first item I sold was a ‘Bling Ring’, a friend bought it from me and that friend also bought a charm bracelet. So, my first customers were friends from school. At 11 years old, I wrote the book called The Making Of A Young Entrepreneur: A Kid’s Guide To Developing The Mind-Set For Success, for the Write A Book competition at school. That book is now available on Amazon!
BeYou: How did you transition from selling to friends at school to selling to people you didn’t know?
GJW: I used a lot of online marketing. My mom had a connection with a lady from Diva Time with Mom. I sold that lady a few things and did styling from there. Being involved with a grand opening event allowed me to expand my sales network. Word of mouth has been key. I never liked plastic. I always liked elegant styling and pearls. The products that I sell are quality, so people quickly bought into my product idea. They say I am an old soul. My mom is a classic and elegant woman who doesn’t love jewelry but she always had a love for classy and elegant things. I get my sense of style from her.
BeYou: I read that you are currently home schooled. Is there a reason for that and did you experience bullying while you were going to school?
GJW: I was missing a lot of school days because of the business so, I decided to study at home while in the eight grade. Also, transitioning between different environments, between business meetings and school classrooms was challenging. I want to be in entrepreneurial mode 24/7. Plus, I am a very picky person. Before I choose a friend I don’t tell them about my business. My closest friends ask about it or stay away from the topic when they notice I’m not willing to talk about it. When I was in school some jealous people said I bought my jewelry from the dollar store, which wasn’t true. Some people always asked me for money. Although I have always been shy, I have also always been a confident person. People know that about me because I have always asserted that I will be successful. Even if someone encourages you, if you aren’t positive you won’t believe it. I don’t listen to naysayers. I know that if I have my eye on my goals and dreams, I will be successful.
BeYou: Do you have advice about business for kids your own age or in highschool?
GJW: If you have any idea of something, start it now. By the time it’s ready you will be successful. Even if it’s not business, just a job, take courses. Jump head first into your business. Adults really want to help young people who are trying great things. You don’t have the worries of bills and other things like that. Of course, there are complications to being young and dealing with legal documents etc. It is worth the struggle and trouble. Time is the most precious thing that we have and we have it when we are young.
BeYou: Let's talk about Gabrielle as a motivational speaker. How did you get into this, what do you like most about public speaking and the other things you do?
GJW: I started my speaking career because I wanted to reach more people and touch more lives to encourage young people to start their business right now! I really wanted to get that message out to young people in my book and in my speaking opportunities. Being able to talk to large groups of kids and adults has been a wonderful experience. I have so much to work on when it comes to balancing being a kid and being an entrepreneur. If I feel overwhelmed, I take a step back, take a break and focus on something fun like being a kid and hanging out with friends. I can’t do that too long because I am itching to get back to my business. (laughter)
BeYou: What do you see in the future for Gabrielle Jordan Williams?
GJW: I am really trying to build my ExCEL Youth Mentoring Institute: Excellence Created Through Entrepreneurship and Leadership. I am mentoring young people through a series every Sunday at 7pm and through the ExCEL Youth Mastermind (9 students from around the world on Google+). I go through the key components of being an entrepreneur. I do this session 3 times a year, the next session is in April. Students apply and I will choose 9 students.
I also want to become a Gemologist at GIA (Gemological Institute of America). There is one in New York that I want to attend. But, I am not sure if I want to go to college or not depending on how big the company grows. It depends on whether I have time to take away from my company to go to school. I want to go to GIA in my early years at age 20.
BeYou: It must be something to be a kid entrepreneur. I'm quite sure that ideas come a mile a minute. Do you tend to get interested in many different ideas at a time? How do you stay focused on just one?
GJW:. I ask myself ‘what is overall making money right now?’ Before I make a decision on what to do next. I am more focused on taking calculated risks. Whatever I jump into should benefit me or other people in some way. I should be able to answer the question ‘How will this grow?’