Young entrepreneur makes Fort Wayne pretty
By Gwen Clayton | Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly
At the young age of 10, My’Kayla Burks has already launched her career as an entrepreneur and business woman.
She started My’Kayla Bows six months ago with the help of her aunt and fellow business woman, Tee Cook.
“I enjoy making hair bows and I really like hair bows and I think some other people might like hair bows too,” Burks said. “I like them so much because they’re fancy and they give you a little bit more style.”
Burks’ bows are different from other hair bows, she said, because they have more designs on them.
“My hair bows, they are little and they are for babies too and they have all different kinds of designs on it,” she said. “Some other bows don’t have a whole bunch of designs on it so I decided to put more designs on my bows.”
Using a special wooden tool that looks like a giant comb, Burks weaves the ribbon around the teeth to tie the ribbon into a bow. She then adds glitter, sequins and other decorations before attaching the bow to a hair clip.
Burks looks at making and selling these accessories as a long-term career plan, although she does have some other day jobs she’d like to pursue as well in the future.
“I want to be a teacher and I want to be a nurse and I want to be a person that sells hair bows,” she said. “And I want to help people that have cancer, because people that have cancer, they need a little bit more love.”
Beauty supply and demand
Jason Jung, owner of Hollywood Beauty Supply, decided to carry My’Kayla Bows because he knew they were sellable. Although he was not in the store the first time My’Kayla and her mother, Shaquana Burks, stopped by, he called them once he got in to set up a meeting to discuss details.
“Her products are great,” Jung said. “They’re different from any other bows on the market. They’re very unique and they’re something I can definitely sell and something that is definitely wanted. It was just a plus that this awesome, adorable little girl was making them by hand. I loved the entrepreneurial spirit.”
Jung’s family immigrated to the United States from South Korea when he was young. His parents opened a beauty supply store in Michigan where he was raised, so he grew up in the beauty-supply business. One of the values his parents taught him was the importance of patronizing small business owners.
“Supporting, mentoring and possibly teaching another young entrepreneur seemed like it would be a really cool thing to do,” he said.
Several months ago, My’Kayla and Shaquana approached Tee Cook, owner of All-in-One Cakes and Events — as well as coordinator of Events in Color and sister of My’Kayla’s father — to help the young girl launch her business.
“I am definitely always going to support her doing something like that,” Cook said. “I support a whole bunch of entrepreneurs all the time, so it’s in her blood. I am really proud of her that this is where her mind is at this age. A lot of kids right now aren’t even thinking about starting their own business or what they want to do and she already knows what she wants to do. I thought that was just the coolest thing.”
Events in Color
Burks is the first junior CEO to participate in Events in Color, an expo spotlighting minority-owned businesses. The third annual event will take place once again at the Grand Wayne convention center in April 2019. An exact date is to be determined.
In addition to the yearly conference, Events in Color also honors business leaders throughout the year who give back to their neighborhoods.
“We find a business who reaches out to the community — who isn’t just sitting here making money,” Cook said. “It’s more to them than that.”
EIC recognizes the person with an award, and then hosts a fun event at the respective place of business to draw in the public.
Last July, the group honored Thomas Brownlee and Sons Market, 613 Oxford St., Fort Wayne, for its 60 years of business and community involvement. Festivities included a raffle, games and food.
“It’s just something to say we support you and we notice what you’re doing for the community, and to encourage other businesses to give back to the community,” Cook said. “There are so many people out here and look how we’re inspiring these kids to do their own thing as entrepreneurs. So, giving back is way more than monetary. It’s getting these little kids to want to start something.”