The youth of New Orleans has been in the news a lot lately. With the recent announcements of Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s new juvenile justice initiative and the implementation of a citywide curfew, some residents have become concerned that the reputation of New Orleans’ children is being skewed unnecessarily negatively.
“As a city, we should be empowering and inspiring our kids, not criminalizing them,” says Gary Briggs of EdNavigator, a nonprofit that helps families navigate the educational system.
Dee Hollins, known online as The Nola Chic agrees.
This weekend, The Nola Chic, together with sponsors like Office Ops, Chick-fil-A, London Boy Productions, Melba’s, Big Easy Magazine and more, hosted the first annual New Orleans Children’s Business Fair at St. Roch Park. On Sunday, over 20 kidpreneurs came together to showcase their businesses.
Children sold everything from clothing to lemonade, and crafts to cookies. In spite of the heat, every kid there was upbeat and engaged, eager to talk about the business that they’re running.
One of the standouts of the day was Peyticakes, a clothing brand started by young fashion designer Peyton Brown. Her t-shirt designs come in a variety of colors and each features a slogan meant to be both inspiring and empowering. “I Am Worthy.” “I Am Change.” “I Am CEO.” “I Am Enough.” “I Am. I Will. Just Watch.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are now over 28 million small businesses in the United States. Those small businesses provide 49.2 percent of private sector jobs – and that number is growing every day. Empowering New Orleans youth in their quest to run successful businesses places them at the forefront of tomorrow’s economy.
Jenn Bentley is a freelance journalist and editor who publishes Wander N.O. More, a digital publication focused on the small businesses, events, people and projects that are the backbone of New Orleans. Her work has also been featured in publications such as The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, Examiner.com, and others. Follow her on Twitter: @JennBentley_