Atlanta Teen Voices / all

Young Black Atlanta Entrepreneurs Talk Failure, Growth and Motivation

by share

According to Salesforce’s most recent Small & Medium Business Trends report, Generation Z and Millennials are 188% more likely to have the aim of starting their own business compared to baby boomers. In 2020, this statement couldn’t be any more true. The state of Georgia, that includes my city of Atlanta, the “Black Mecca” for all things Afro-centric, ranks number one in the best states for Black entrepreneurs. Now can you imagine a combination of the two, a black teenage entrepreneur? You no longer need to. I have had the immense pleasure of seeing these very people every day. They are changing the dynamic through their passionate desires to bring to the world a fresher perspective of reality. Their motivation for what they do can only be defined as irrefutably optimistic, for the misfortunes of the world will not jade the visions of these spectacular beings. I was given the opportunity to speak with some of these entrepreneurs and hear their self-driven stories.

The overlying themes throughout all of my conversations with them were ideas of perseverance, motivation, and growth. Not only did I want to showcase the beauty of Black business, but also the power in youthful expression, because when cultivated, it’s something fierce.

Amari Nicole, 18
Amari Nicole Collection
Lashes, Jewelry, clothing, nails, lip gloss
Senior at Arabia Mountain High school


Armani Hamilton, 16
Founder of OperationHER and The Modern Afro-Framework
A non-profit organization helping the community one person at a time
Junior at Arabia Mountain High School
Business and Blog:


Antonio Stephens, 18
Owner of Exotiic Wear
Original clothing line to inspire self-expression
Georgia State University, Business Administration


Khalil Battle, 17
Founder of King Curls
Nourishing & Enriching Hair Care Products Curated ….. for Him by Him
Senior at Woodward Academy


Jadyn Taylor, 16
Creator of Cozy Creations
Croc design and embellishment
Junior at Stephenson High School


Chloe Woods, 15
Co-founder of We Spark Change
A platform promoting youth activism
Sophomore at The Hotchkiss School


Ramaya Thomas, 16
Co-Founder of We Spark Change
A platform promoting Youth Activism
Junior at The Atlanta International School


Kayden Skeete, 16
Creator of The Social Justice Project
Platform to Encourage education on Social Injustice
Junior at The Atlanta International School



Behind every individual is a story. This is no different for the youth of today’s generation. Many adults underestimate the power of an origin story. The establishment of the character adored by many in the limelight that was dismissed before the stage caught a glimpse of their presence. In regards to these youthful leaders of tomorrow, their beginnings are what propelled them to act. This is a first step the majority still can’t gather the confidence to do. I commend my peers for doing so and evoking changes in their community as they see fit within their power. 

Khalil Battle, 17- King Curls
My motivation is my family. I want to see my family in a better place. I feel like at one point it was my dad’s job to do that, but now I feel like it’s my duty. I want to just make sure that everyone’s happy. If I can do it then I want to try my hardest to get it done.

Chloe Woods, 15 -We Spark Change 
My motivation comes from being tired. This organization started off of negative emotions (anger, frustration, confusion) we started to better understand where and how all this different point of views came about.

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Jadyn Taylor, 16 – Cozy Creations 
My great-grandma is my inspiration because she always believed in me. She saw something in me that nobody else did, so for her, I push myself to keep going to make her proud.

Antonio Stephens, 18- Exotiic Clothing
My motivation is from a book that I read called “Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable” by Tim Grover. There was a sentence in the book that reads, “ External pressures distracts and derail, not the internal pressure that can drive you to overcome anything.” 

Enlightenment Inspires Enlightenment

The spirit of perseverance is one to be adored when it comes to the youth. On top of being black, assertively so, and inserting yourself in the conversation. As a Black youth myself, I can embody their same sentiments and fuel others around me as well. Enlightenment inspires enlightenment. The present leaders in youth will be forces to reckon with as men and women of the future. The future influence we will have on the generations that proceed with us will be exponential compared to the fire we already have. 

Amari Nicole, 18- Amari Nicole Collection (lashes, jewelry, nails, clothing)
There’s the essential stuff that I know I will need that I want to be able to pay for, or even certain things I’ve always wanted. One day I’m going to have a family and I want to leave a mark and I want to leave it right. With my name.

Armani Hamilton, 16- OperationHER, Modern Afro-Framework 
What keeps me going is thinking that somewhere out there someone needs help. I want to be that person that lets you know that someone is thinking about you. I just want to be someone’s source of light and give what I can to help.

Ramaya Thomas, 16- We Spark Change 
I think it’s each other. We feed off of each other’s energy. Especially because we both know how much this means to one another so we are able to see beyond this moment into the future.

Kayden Skeete, 16 – The Social Justice Project 
What makes me keep going is that I have hope that there will be a change in the future and I want to do my part in helping make sure that there is a change in our country regarding social justice.


It Takes A Village

I felt this was an important aspect of entrepreneurship to highlight because you do not see people account for all that goes into a business. “It takes a village” is the simplest way to put it. There is a certain amount of maturity and self-acknowledgement to say you can not do it on your own. On top of that, one must also put into perspective we already ask for guidance as teenagers. Having to ask for help with the one thing you have cultivated on your own is a massively humbling experience. For you are no longer asking for guidance, but seeking for assistance. It is no longer looking from the backseat where the driver goes, but manning the wheel on one’s own with the wisdom of the passenger’s expertise. Through their stories I’ve learned that reliance is not something that stops at a certain age. It is beyond that, the only difference is how that means of reliance will affect you. 

Ramaya & Chloe, 16- We Spark Change 
Ramaya- One of the things that Chole and I have learned is time management, organization, and networking. We’ve learned a lot together especially teamwork.

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Chole- A lot of Ramaya’s earlier statements about teamwork, organization, understanding to be flexible, and all of the fundamental building blocks when you’re starting a business with somebody else. Those skills have been the most beneficial to me.

Armani Hamilton, 16- OperationHER, Modern Afro-Framework 
Parental involvement is crucial because you need money to start. Money is a big role and on top of that, you have to think of safety, legal aspects, and support. You have to be mature enough to realize that you can’t do it all by yourself.

Khalil Battle, 17- King Curls
I learned you have to delegate. You’re not gonna be able to do everything yourself. I wanted to ship and make the product and do it all alone in my kitchen, but my mom told me you’re not gonna be able to do that, it’s not possible.


Learn to Go Learn to Grow

It is the persistence in the current adversities that plague our society and finding a way even when it seems like there is none. It is taking what you have and running with it. It is the unbreakable faith to pursue a passion that burns in you. It is being confident enough to express your opinion and open-minded enough to consider others. With the possibility of your view being shifted. It is taking the risk of discovering your true potential and awakening that “Greatest Love of All” that Whitney sang of. It’s the acknowledgment of the hunger that you have and allowing yourself to be the only person to make it suffice. That is what it means to grow. 

Antonio Stephens, 18- Exotiic Clothing
Don’t give up, and always look for more than one way to solve something.

Kayden Skeete, 16 – The Social Justice Project
That no matter how young you are or what you start with, work hard, and chase your dreams no matter what.

Chloe, 15 – We Spark Change 
To answer that question I think that one lesson that we’ve learned is to stay rooted in the values that we have presented for ourselves as an organization and understanding that even in conversations that we have, and in spaces that we create to remain open and understanding of conflicting views.

Armani Hamilton, 16 – OperationHER, Modern Afro-Framework 
It has taught me the value of time, communication, and embodying your business. You have to always stay on your P’s and Q’s. I plan to always be resilient. It teaches you perseverance. Running a business is not one dimensional. You learn to keep going.


Failure = Progression

Something I find to be the most comforting about my generation is the common identity of finding identity. No one knows who they are or where they are going to be. We accept each other in the places that we meet them and walk with them until the next destination arrives. We leave a hand open to be within reach of one another because we know how it feels to be lonely. We know how it feels to be lost. Those of us with our hands open for the next person to join us are just as confused, but we are willing to share what knowledge we do have. In hopes of us eventually finding our way. The enthusiasm these young entrepreneurs have towards their peers gives me comfort, for we are both not certain of our ways in this world, but we are making conscious strides to find them. Not only that, but bring along others as well so we may all find our way someday. 

Jadyn Taylor, 16- Cozy Creations 
Go for it! It’s really not that much when you first start, but you have to manage your time really well. And don’t half- do anything because that reflects on you, that’s your image.

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Amari Nicole, 18- Amari Nicole Collection (lashes, jewelry, nails, clothing)
Never be scared. Remember to put yourself on a budget. Do the research. Don’t rush it. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it. It is also very important and smart to keep a team behind you to remind you of your roots.

Antonio Stephens, 18- Exotiic Clothing
They shouldn’t be scared of the risk because they might regret not taking it later on. Who knows how it could have turned out? Prepare yourself mentally and financially for that risk because you never know what your business can go through and you don’t want to start it with the bare minimum.

Ramaya Thomas, 16- We Spark Change 
Just go for it! I think Chole and I were super scared that we wouldn’t get enough attention for it or that no one would follow us. But in actuality, when you put in the effort of things, the hard work will pay off. So if you’re really passionate about something, we would say with full force, go for it. Me and Chole both understand that it’s okay to fail forward. Failure equals progression.

Motivating Manifestations

Armani Hamilton, 16- OperationHER, Modern Afro-Framework 
I enjoy seeing others smile and feel appreciated. Seeing the look in their eyes and the gratitude on their voice makes you want to keep reaching out.

Khalil Battle, 17- King Curls
The fact that I’m doing what I’ve dreamed of doing, and my dreams have manifested. I’m inspiring people I didn’t even know were insecure about their hair. I’m making people more conscious about how important their hair is and taking care of it. I honestly would have to say that I’m the happiest with the fact that I have manifested my dreams.

Chloe, 15- We Spark Change
I think the most motivating thing is to hear people’s reactions to our cause. We want to start conversations that often are not started within our community and outside of them. This is the most inclusive space is what we aim to be, and just knowing that we can touch people’s lives and impact others is the most touching and motivating thing. 

I hope this reflection of the beauty in the Black community gives you joy. The individuals highlighted in this piece are only a small fragment of my community and Black entrepreneurs as a whole. Remember to find joy in the small things, for they can fill you with bliss and protect you from a risky abyss. 

There are many trials and triumphs in working for one’s self, but the reward is far more substantial. Sure there is an economic and societal benefit, but the growth mentally is an experience that is undeniable and unforgettable. These youthful Black leaders have been cultivated anew through the determination of following their dreams. I encourage you to do whatever it is your heart desires. Pursue that passion you have been too afraid to do. Get off the wall and just dance. You would be doing yourself a favor, and quite possibly be the exemplar your community needs.

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