Age is just a number to generation Z, as the youngest entrepreneurs make their mark on the world of business.
Generation Z is known for being digital-first, entrepreneurial, and passionate about social issues. These attributes resonate not just among the older members of generation Z, but also throughout the entire generation. Today, even ten-year-olds are using resources such as social media to jump-start and advertise their new businesses.
Kheris Rogers, the creator of Flexin’ In My Complexion, is a prime example of today’s era of “kidrepreneurs.” At just 10, Rogers launched her fashion t-shirt line this spring to send a bold message against colorism, or discrimination based on skin tone. She built her brand using the hashtag #FlexinInHerComplexion after a picture of her on Twitter using the hashtag went viral, receiving over 30,000 retweets and 80,000 likes.
“Some people do not take me seriously because I am younger,” Rogers told JWT Intelligence. “But once people hear my message, they take me seriously. Age doesn’t matter to run a business. You can be a business owner at any age.”
Rogers is working on her company full time this summer, and plans to extend her clothing line to tank tops, crop tops and more-fitted clothes. In August, she will also work in partnership with NFL Hall of Famer Jason Taylor to put on a fashion show that inspires the youth to have confidence in themselves.
Rogers is not the only young entrepreneur on a social mission. Mikaila Ulmer started her company, Me & the Bees Lemonade, in 2009. Ulmer is now 12 years old and her lemonades are available for purchase in natural food markets across the southwestern United States, as well as in 55 Whole Foods stores. Unlike most lemonades, Ulmer’s is sweetened with honey, rather than sugar. Her mission is to “Save the Bees.” For each purchase of Me & the Bees Lemonade, a percentage of the profit goes to a local organization that helps save honey bees.
Alina Morse, a 12-year-old girl from Michigan, launched her company to create a healthy alternative to lollipops when she was just nine. Morse’s Zollipops are gluten free, GMO free, and contain no sugar. Instead of sugar, she uses sugar alternatives xylitol, erythritol and stevia. Morse first learned to make candy with the help of YouTube tutorials, writes the Chicago Tribune. Today, Zollipops are sold through Amazon, Toys R Us, Whole Foods, and the grocery store Kroger. This May, Morse launched her second healthier candy, Zaffi Taffy.
Today’s young entrepreneurs mean big business. Moziah Bridges is the 15-year-old CEO of bow tie company Mo’s Bows, which he founded at the age of nine. Mo’s Bows took off after a 2015 appearance on the show Shark Tank; in May, Bridges signed a seven-figure licensing deal with the NBA to create a custom collection of basketball bowties. His bowties have been featured at retailers including Neiman Marcus and Cole Haan, and he has sold more than $300,000 worth of apparel to date. Says Bridges’ website, “I’m living proof that you can be anything you want—at any age.”
According to a survey conducted by SONAR™, J. Walter Thompson’s in-house consumer insights unit, half of generation Z already see themselves as entrepreneurs, while 63% think of themselves as influencers. As gen Z ages, brands will have to reckon with a generation that does not wait for opportunities to be presented to them, but creates them instead. Generation Z does not allow anyone to look down on them because of their youth, and brands should be aware that digitally empowered young people are capable of taking action on their own.
Meet more of generation Z by watching the latest short film from the Innovation Group.