If you’re the parent to a Black child, you probably know the struggle of finding hair products or accessories that can best accentuate your child's hair while also handling their kinky, coily and curly texture. Mainstream hair bows, barrettes and other accessories aren’t typically made with Black hair in mind and frankly, it shows. After growing tired of traditional, plastic barrettes falling out of her hair, founder and CEO Gabby Goodwin and her mom, Rozalynn Goodwin, decided to found GaBBY Bows: double face, double snap barrettes with all hair types in mind!
13-year-old Gabby Goodwin got the best birthday present a kidtrepreneur could get when she received the news that GaBBY Bows would be sold in 74 Target stores across the country as of last week. As the 2018 BLACK ENTERPRISE Teenpreneur of the Year and the youngest ever South Carolina Young Entrepreneur, Gabby isn’t slowing down any time soon with her brand Confidence by GaBBY Goodwin by selling hair accessories, hair care products and inspiring the next generation of girl bosses!
BET caught up with Gabby Goodwin of GaBBY Bows to talk about being a young entrepreneur, her academy to help other mommy-daughter boss duos, her newest business venture with Target, and more!
BET: What inspired you to create your brand, Confidence by GaBBy Goodwin and GaBBY Bows?
Gabby Goodwin: So GaBBY Bows are barrettes that don't fall out the hair. They have two faces so you can see the design both ways. And inside of those faces there are teeth and craters that trap and gather the hair so you don't have to worry about having barrettes falling out of your hair.
My mom was spending like every two weeks trying to buy bows that would stay in my hair. So she was wasting money, wasting time and we just wanted to solve that problem because it wasn't doing us any good. So we decided to come out with our product. Another thing that led to us coming up with the product was my grandma has a pet peeve of when the barrettes would turn around and you could only see that one face and then you see the strip. She really didn't like that and she would fuss at my mom all the time about that. And we definitely wanted to solve that because who wants to get fussed at?
BET: How excited were you when you found out your bows were going to be sold in 74 Target stores across the country?
GG: It’s super exciting. This is a dream that I've had since we started the business. When I started, I was kind of scared. But I knew that if I kept pushing and if I kept believing that I would get here someday. And I kept pushing; me, as a little seven year old shy kid. I used the strength that I had inside me, even though I was shy. I worked hard to not be shy anymore, too! That's another part of our journey that I was super shy when I was little. And, now, I'm able to speak in front of hundreds of women or kids or whoever and have a great time.
So just to be able to inspire other girls that even if they don't think that they can do it, just know that there are people who you can look up to that are there to support you and you're able to know that if I can do it, they can do it, too. I'm super grateful to be in Target just to show other people will show other girls. Especially little girls now because society is squishing up all the stereotypes like, ‘You can't do this because you are black,’ or, ‘You can't do that ‘cause you have that type of hair.’ You can do whatever you want to if you’re a believer.
BET: How did you initially start selling your barrettes when you created this brand with your mom when you were just 7 years old?
GG: We actually started thinking about the product when I was 5. When my mom was frustrated, she actually ranted on Twitter. A bunch of mom’s commented back saying, ‘I don’t use those barrettes anymore. I use rubber bands to make them stay in place.’ And they asked my mom to let them know when she figured out a better way. Our pastor saw the tweets and said, ‘Sounds like a market you need to break into.’ So when my mom told me that when I was 5, every day I kept asking her, ‘When are my bows selling? When are we gonna make these bows?’ It took us about two years to actually start the vision.
We actually tried to sell the product to company because my mom was just ranting and she did not know that this would turn into an actual business. She had a full time job and still does today. She has two kids and just had the second one. So she wasn't really trying to start a business or add things to her already schedule.
We went and tried to sell it to the company. As you can see, that did not happen. But that was actually a point where we were like, ‘We can fend for ourselves. We can go and do this by ourselves.’ It was not easy at first, but we were able to adapt to it. We started February 2014 and we posted a video. In about probably a day, it got like a thousand views. So we knew we were on to something. We put out the website and we only had one design. So that's how we started. It definitely was not what we expected it to start out as because we weren't trying to start a business. But that was my determination. I was able to push my mom into entrepreneurship and we're here now.
BET: Why do you think it's important for other manufacturers to be mindful of how their hair accessories or hair tools are working with Black hair?
GG: Just keep in mind all different types of hair; coily, straight, silky, whatever! If you want to have a product that works for everybody, you have to come up with an idea that will benefit everybody. Since I have thicker hair, the traditional barrettes that I started out with when I was little would not stay on rather than if they were on somebody who had thinner hair.
With us, we were able to figure out how to have all hair types be able to use this barrette. Whatever type of hair you have, you can use GaBBY Bows. I would just tell them to keep in mind that there are different types hair around the world, and if you want people to use your product, you have to make your product work for everybody.
BET: Tell us a little bit about your Mommy and Me Entrepreneurship Academy that you started for other young girls and their mothers who want to get involved in the world of business.
GG: There are over 70 girls in 16 States that have a business under our brand. They are selling the bows and they are selling the hair products. You pay a monthly fee and you're able to get an affiliate link that with every sale you make, you get 25% of. You get a starter kit with a t-shirt, a name badge, and a vendor sign where you can set up and sell. There’s all these different supplies and tools that you get. For the moms, there is a private Facebook group where you're able to ask all your questions. We have some moms that go live because they were able to get the bows in a local store or they have these tips for speaking or selling.
We also have different things that we can talk about in the group as well, like the Target launch. There's also expert training. We bring in people also time we bring in people or sometimes it’s just me and my mom. But there are different topics like Instagram or YouTube. We bring in somebody and they're able to talk about how they were able to exceed or how you can be an expert in that field. You're able to learn about different life skills and business skills. Even if you go on to work for somebody else or you keep working for yourself, you can take those skills and be able to be successful.
BET: What advice would you give to other young girls or boys who want to start their own business or develop a product?
GG: Just to keep working, no matter what! Your success will come as a result of your hard work, just to keep pushing no matter what. Keep believing in your dreams. If you stopped believing, then it probably won't happen. Keep dreaming.
There's a quote that I say and it’s, ‘No is just an abbreviation for next opportunity.’ After however many no’s you get, just know that there's going to be a next opportunity. And that's what happened with me and Target. We’ve been in some retail stores that haven't worked out so we kept pushing and now we’re in Target.
BET: What type of response did you get from your family and friends when you decided to start your business and other pursuits?
GG: My family is always just supports me doing everything and anything. At first, they were a little bit like, ‘What are you going to do? How are you going to do this?’ But they were super excited! They are still always supporting. My friends always joke about it. They're like, ‘Ooh, I have a friend that's a celebrity!’ It’s really cool to be able to see different people, especially the people that I'm close with, be able to react to it. There’s definitely been a lot of supporters and there's been people since day one. There's been people that have just joined, but we're all super grateful for everybody who supported. They’re always congratulating me, giving me advice, everything that they can to help me succeed and it really helps.
BET: You’ve gained a lot of media attention and you wear a bunch of different hats. How do you balance all your business duties and the fun activities you want to do as a kid?
GG: My parents have always taught me that school comes first. As soon as I get home I start working on schoolwork but it all depends on how much of my schoolwork I need to do and how much business work I need to do. I just mix it all together. Um, just to know what the important things are first. And then you can trickle down the list and then worry about the, not, not important, but just the ones that you can do later. So just knowing what’s important: if this essay or this piece of homework is due tomorrow. I do that before I start working on another piece of work that's only due like next week or I work on writing notes tonight instead because I write notes to everybody who orders at GaBBY Bows.
But I still try to make time for some free time. And sometimes I do make free time when I'm not really supposed to or when I don't need to. But I'm still just a kid! I still want to have fun and I still want to hang out. Like yesterday, I had my birthday party so I'm still able to make time for those things. You don't have to work all the time; just put in breaks.
BET: How was your 13th birthday party?
GG: I went to Dave and Buster’s. I had a really fun time. These friends that I’ve known since second, maybe third, grade were there. So it was like really close friends. It was just really fun because we were joking around a lot. I was glad to be able to celebrate after all the work. It's really cool ‘cause the news about Target had come out. There was all these different congratulations, media and press that came with it. And it was all on my birthday, so it was pretty cool!
BET: Now that you’re 13, what do you want to accomplish next?
GG: Now we're trying to expand the Academy. We want to have a thousand girls go through the Academy by 2025. That's our next big goal. We're also coming out with two new colors, a shampoo and conditioner by the end of this year. So I’m super excited about that. Also, last year in sixth grade, I made six figures. Now I'm in seventh grade so I'm trying to push and make seven. That's probably another goal that I have in mind.
To purchase GaBBY Bows or see if they're sold at a Target near you, click here!
EDITOR'S NOTE: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.