When Arika Smith-Watson began selling popsicles to the neighborhood kids when she was 7, she first proposed the idea to her parents and presented a plan that outlined the costs, selling price and profit she would make from each sale.
Sonya Smith-Watson, impressed by her daughter’s entrepreneurial spirit, enrolled her in a youth empowerment program, sponsored by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, which taught participants how to write business proposals and market their products. From there, her daughter would go on to land her own TV show called Kidz Point of View on a local network in 2012 and, a year later, launch her own business, Text-Shirts Unlimited.
Looking for a platform for her daughter’s products, and for others like her, Smith-Watson and her daughter came up with the idea for the Kid Entrepreneurs Expo, which took place on Saturday, May 17 at the T. E. Harman Center in Sugar Land.
The expo provided participants with a day of youth empowerment, shopping, entertainment and fun.
A number of talented young entrepreneurs showcased their products and services at the event, among them, a DJ business, T-shirt airbrush business, jewelry business, pickle company, lemonade business and smoothie factory. Other businesses showcased included, a cup cake company, clothing business, tote business and a cheer accessories business.
“Being able to showcase other young entrepreneurs provided living examples to the youth that they are able to generate profits by utilizing their own talents and interests,” said Smith-Watson, an assistant principal at Briargate Elementary School in the Fort Bend Independent School District.
Smith-Watson’s daughter, Arika, displayed her line of T-shirts and also served as master of ceremony for the event.
Twins, Meagan and Morgan Smith, showcased their talents during the event with a rendition of gospel artists Mary Mary’s “I Try” and were followed by a rousing cheer performance by the Jaguar PAWS from Briargate Elementary.
During the expo, youth ranging from elementary to high school age, were educated on the “how-tos” of starting and operating a successful business.
Karolyn Williams, a local financial coach, engaged the up-and-coming business owners in an interactive question and answer session to gauge their knowledge of several key business terms. She emphasized the importance of not only having a great idea or product but the necessary capital to launch and sustain a business.
Chris Murray, a local business coach, provided participants with a sample business proposal as he shared his business insights and expertise.
Keynote speaker, Leon Jenkins, president/CEO of the Bethel’s Place Black Chamber of Commerce and editor-in-chief of Empower Magazine, rounded out the list of presenters with a presentation on “Being a Successful Business Leader.”
He described the expo as “a truly refreshing and rewarding experience” that allowed him “to be in the presence of many young, gifted, energetic and talented business entrepreneurs.”
“I challenge all of us to get behind them in supporting their businesses at every opportunity. This was a great first start for the organizers of this event, and I am confident that it will more than double in size next year,” said Jenkins.
Smith-Watson and her daughter have plans for future expos.
“Our ultimate goal is to spotlight as many kid entrepreneurs and help inspire as many youth as possible to establish and market their businesses. Our mission is to continuously strive to cultivate the next generation of powerful kidpreneurs,” said Smith-Watson.
Arika’s designs can be found at www.Facebook/Text-Shirts Unlimited.