Published on April 20th, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff2
Gabrielle Goodwin; 8-year-old Entrepreneur!!
Pictured above; Gabrielle Goodwin (far right) completes a class activity with peers in the Escolares Academy at Harbison West Elementary.
District Five student getting statewide, national spotlight for her barrette business
IRMO – While most eight-year-old girls probably have their share of favorite hair accessories. Harbison West Elementary School second grader Gabrielle Goodwin can attest to having thousands.
“GaBBY Bows are hair barrettes I designed with my mom,” said Gabrielle, wearing and showing her favorite barrettes. “One of my favorites is the sweet pea because I like pink. We also have lady bug (barrettes) with different colors…and we are making new ones too.”
A student in Lexington-Richland School District Five’s magnet program for academically gifted elementary students, Gabrielle has gained both state and national recognitions for the business she started with her mother a year ago. On April 2, she was recognized by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as a South Carolina Young Entrepreneur of the Year, becoming the youngest to ever receive the award.
Now GaBBY Bows is gaining additional honors. Already available in 40 Walgreens in South Carolina and Georgia, the barrettes will be available in 51 Bi-Lo stores in South Carolina beginning May 1. GaBBY Bows also has been selected as a finalist in the U.S. Small Business Administration 2015 InnovateHER Business Challenge, recognition that comes with a chance to compete for part of $30,000 in prize money during a live pitch competition in Washington, D.C. on May 8.
“It’s amazing to think that this all started with my daughter’s persistence,” said Rozalynn Goodwin, Gabrielle’s mother. “This is 100 percent her idea and vision. It was her asking me every day ‘when will the barrettes be ready?’ and ‘what about this, mom? I didn’t know anything about how to make hair barrettes and didn’t feel like I had time to start a business. But I did what any other mother would do…She had a dream. And as far as her dreams could take her, I took steps to try to make it happen.”
The idea for the Goodwin’s barrette business started with a few bad hair days. Rozalynn says she loved styling her daughter’s hair in twists and braids but found that the barrettes were lost by the end of the school day. GaBBY Bows feature a more secure “Double-Face Double-Snap” design that could survive recess and other school-day activities.
“When we were designing the barrettes, Gabrielle and I would sit at the dinner table and compare what worked and what didn’t work,” said Rozalynn, adding that she and her daughter worked on the business for three and a half years before launching it in February 2014. “Gabrielle kept us on track, even when I didn’t want to go on. It was her faith and persistence that made me feel like we need to keep going…like we might really have something here.”
Shelia Shelby, Gabrielle’s teacher at the Escolares Academy at Harbison West Elementary, has seen the same persistence and entrepreneurial spirit from the eight-year-old in the classroom. It was Shelby that nominated Gabrielle for the state Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
“The application stated that nominees should ‘demonstrate a keen entrepreneurial spirit,’ and this phrase most certainly describes Gabrielle,” Shelby said. “In the classroom, I can hear her share her experiences as a young business woman which fuels the creative thinking of her peers. When working with groups of her classmates she demonstrates a fierce spirit of perseverance, and I know Gabrielle is well on her way to success in many areas of her life.”
Harbison West Elementary Principal Arthur Newton added, “We are so proud of all that Gabrielle has accomplished. Out-of-the-box thinking and innovation are lessons we promote in the classroom, and Gabrielle has demonstrated this with her business. We’re always excited when our students are recognized, and we know that this recognition for Gabrielle and her mother will not only grow their business but grow the entrepreneurial spirits of students in our school as well.”
For Gabrielle, the best parts of owning her own business are getting to travel and “playdates.” The events allow the Goodwins to promote anti-bullying and sponsor a children’s shelter, inviting the children to play and the community to bring a wish list item for the shelter.
“I have friends at school, and I can think of what it would be like to not have friends. We should all be nice to one another,” Goodwin said. “…The thing I like best about having my own business is traveling. I’ve been to Augusta, Chicago… it’s a lot of fun to show the barrettes and meet new people.”