6 of Chattanooga’s Most Successful Young Entrepreneurs

Kids In Charge

 

Step aside, grown-ups. Kids are taking over Chattanooga’s small business landscape one custom product at a time. When it comes to developmental benefits, the figures don’t lie. These young innovators are getting a head start honing their business skills, from networking and time management to customer service. Additionally, they are learning to navigate the challenges that come with being underestimated. After getting to know them for ourselves, we can assure you the only thing that’s green about these budding executives is the money they’re putting in the bank. Read on to meet a few of the city’s youngest businesspeople and learn about their unique products.

 

Photography by Rich Smith

Jayla and Jazzlyn Bates, owners of Shimmer Baby Shine

 

Jayla (11) and Jazzlyn Bates (8)

Business: Shimmer Baby Shine

What does your business do? 

JB and JB: Our business sells handmade jewelry, accessories, lip products, and gifts for girls and women of all ages.

When did you first start this business, and why? 

JB and JB: We started about three years ago selling jewelry that we bought wholesale. We thought it would be fun to sell jewelry, and we really love making stuff. Since starting the business, we’ve also learned that we love doing vendor events. 

 

Shimmer Baby Shine makeup and jewelry products

 

What would you say made it possible for you to start this business? 

JB and JB: We’ve had a lot of support from our mom, and participating in the Chattanooga Children’s Business Fair really helped us get our business off the ground. It was the first place we started making money.

What are some of the challenges of running a business at such a young age? 

JB and JB: It can be challenging to learn how to make new stuff. It’s also hard to find time to make things between school, work, and having fun.

What are your goals for the future of your business? 

JB and JB: We’d like to add a larger variety of products to our inventory. For example, we currently sell to girls and women of all ages. We’ll be adding items for men soon. 

Any fun or interesting stories or experiences related to your business? 

JB and JB: We got to be on Good Morning Chattanooga FOX Edition. We also toured the Entercom radio station with a few other youth, and we recorded a commercial on WUSY 101 for the Chattanooga Children’s Business Fair.

Cash Daniels (11)

Business: The Conservation Kid

What does your business do?

CD: I sell plastic-free, eco-friendly items as well as artwork to reduce and raise awareness about landfill waste. I invest the money I make into the Tennessee River to improve our water quality overall.

What are some of the challenges of running a business at such a young age? 

CD: Sometimes it’s hard to get people to take you seriously. When you get the right people to listen, you know you’re making a difference, and it feels good.

Who are your biggest customers? 

CD: My biggest customers are people who love the environment, but I love just spreading the conservation message to anybody who will listen. It’s the people who don’t really know a lot about it who I enjoy talking to the most. 

Cash Daniels, The Conservation Kid, holding one of his products

 

What are your goals for the future of your business? 

CD: Two years ago, I published my first book, One Small Piece, and I have plans for more books. I also want to invest in freshwater and ocean conservation efforts even more. 

Any fun or interesting stories or experiences related to your business? 

CD: Once I published my book about river conservation, I was invited to Los Angeles to be on The Kelly Clarkson Show – that was an amazing experience. 

What other projects are you working on right now? 

CD: I recently founded a nonprofit, The Cleanup Kids, with my best friend Ella from Canada. We will be launching an online program soon where kids from all over the planet can log the trash they pick up. In the past three years, I have picked up over 12,000 pounds of trash from the Tennessee River. I know kids can do it, and we can help save our freshwater ecosystems.

Mikayla Sanders of Mikayla's Keychains making paracord keychains

Mikayla Sanders (13)

Business: Mikayla’s Keychains

What does your business do?

MS: I make and sell custom paracord* keychains.

*Paracord (parachute cord) is a lightweight nylon rope originally used in the suspension lines of parachutes. 

When did you first start this business, and why?

MS: I first started Mikayla’s Keychains when I was 9 years old. I decided it was a good way to make money for other things like my art supplies.

What would you say made it possible for you to be able to start this business?

MS: Support from my mom and from my friends. Without them pushing me and saying that I could do this, I don’t know if I would be where I am now. I’ve learned that if you ever want to start a business, do it. Your age doesn’t matter. Get a plan together and just go for it. 

What are some of the challenges of running a business at such a young age?

MS: One of my biggest challenges is adult underestimation. Some adults assume that because we are children, our products are less valuable or poorly made. I make sure that each keychain is made properly.

Mikayla Sanders making a paracord keychain

 

Who are your biggest customers?

MS: A lot of my customers are football fans who want to represent their team. For example, my mom is the biggest Steelers fan, so she orders different styles of yellow and black keychains. I can also get custom colors of paracord that match business logos or specific team colors. 

What are your goals for the future of your business?

MS: I would like to be able to put my keychains in a retail store and eventually have a store of locally made arts and crafts. I am also looking forward to participating in the Chattanooga Children’s Business Fair again.

Jefferson Hester of Uncle Sam's Paracord surrounded by his products

 

Jefferson Hester (14)

Business: Uncle Sam’s Paracord

What does your business do? 

JH: I sell handmade paracord products like bracelets, dog leads, lanyards, keychains, and sporting slings. I make and sell pretty much anything paracord.

When did you first start this business, and why? 

JH: I started it in 2015 when I was 8 years old and paracord was getting popular. I was scrolling through YouTube, and paracord tutorials start popping up in my recommendations. I started making them and gave them to my family and friends. Finally, I came up with a name and started selling paracord products.

Who are your biggest customers? 

JH: My business caters to people who love our beautiful country and paracord. My biggest customers are kids, hunters, and hikers. The hunters want dog leads, collars, and lanyards. The hikers want bracelets, necklaces, and anything paracord. Kids like it all.

What are your goals for the future
of your business?
 

JH: My biggest goal is to get my business name out there and try to sell out of products at every event. I will continue my business until I can’t find people to sell to anymore. Until that time, I hope it keeps growing and growing. I also want to always try and keep things fun, because sometimes the events can get really boring. 

Uncle Sam's Paracord Products

 

What do you enjoy most about running your own business? 

JH: It’s fun meeting people, and I like making my own money.

Anything else you would like us to know? 

JH: If you love America and you love paracord, then look at my Facebook page, Uncle Sam’s Paracord.

Tarina Whiteside, owner of Aprons4U and MORE

 

Tarina Whiteside (14)

Business: Aprons4U and MORE

What does your business do? 

TW: I specialize in making customized aprons, accessories, and garments.

When did you first start this business, and why? 

TW: When I was in first grade, I needed an apron for a school project. My mom and I decided to make one, and the process turned out to be a lot of fun. People saw the apron and started asking me to make and sell them. This will be my eighth year running Aprons4U and MORE.

Tarina Whiteside making an apron for her company Aprons4U and MORE

 

What are some of the challenges of running a business at such a young age?

TW: Time management. I have to go to school, do extracurricular activities, manage my business, and spend time with family and friends.

What are your goals for the future of your business?

TW: I would like to have a storefront and incorporate more lines of garments. In addition to aprons, I want to make and sell accessories, formal wear, and everyday wear. I also want to continue learning about fashion at a college in New York or California.

Any fun or interesting stories or experiences related to your business? 

TW: I once designed a wearable paper dress that was displayed in Chattanooga’s Association for Visual Arts gallery.

What do you enjoy most about running your own business?

TW: I enjoy expressing myself through fashion and helping others show their personality through custom clothing. People come to me with something in mind. I sketch it out, we choose fabric, I measure them, and I create it for them. I love the look on people’s faces when their creation comes to life, and they see what I can actually do.

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