Why My 9-Year-Old Daughter Got Her Own Startup for Christmas

The “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary reinforced the importance of teaching young girls the freedom and power of entrepreneurship

11-year-old Zora (left) and 9-year-old Raven (right) are the founders of Cousin Craze.

By Ayanna Smith

This past Christmas, my 9-year-old daughter Raven and her 11-year-old cousin, Zora, received gifts to help them launch their own lifestyle business. They’d been begging to start their own social enterprise yet oblivious to the amount of work it takes to get a business up and running, despite both having entrepreneurs as parents. Normally, we would give the usual stuff — the latest toys, nice clothes, hottest electronics and the coolest experiences. But, this time we purchased with a greater purpose in mind.

We wanted to encourage our girls to think big! So, we gifted them a few startup tools like a vlogging camera, lapel mics, video editing software, and a graphic designer. Yes! Their own personal graphic designer! And they could not put these “toys” down.

They actually spent the holiday break together playing, making videos, taking photos, choosing their business logo, and creating an “editorial calendar” (by kids’ standards) for their YouTube content and blog posts. It didn’t take long before they realized being a “boss” is not (just) about posting selfies all day. It really does takes hard work, dedication and sacrifice, which they’re still learning.

As parents, we couldn’t help but worry about the added responsibility their new venture would create for our already busy lives. However, when the “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary aired, we were suddenly reminded that the sense of accomplishment, the feeling of confidence and the air of independence attained from building their own business and making their own money far outweighs our concerns.

We thought, “what if those young girls in the documentary seeking fame and stardom didn’t feel they needed an R. Kelly (or anyone) to achieve their dreams?” No one could potentially sell them dreams; they’d know everything takes hard work… and time. How empowering would it be for our daughters to step into adulthood knowing the things we wish we could tell our younger selves? How much more satisfying will it be for them to accept people for who they are and what they stand for versus what people may be able to do for them? “Surviving R. Kelly” served as a frightening teachable moment for many parents, but it also presented an opportunity for me to support my daughter’s startup with intention —teaching her what it takes to operate a business while building her confidence and courage.

This week Raven and Zora will launch Cousin Crazea lifestyle brand that promotes family and friendship. Their ecommerce store went live today with tons of amazing cousin-themed products, including t-shirts, accessories, journals and toys, and they’ve already posted their first two articles to Backyard Shenanigans — The Blog. Also, be on the lookout for their upcoming coloring storybook series and handmade artwork!

It’s exciting and scary all at once but I feel strongly, now more than ever, that teaching girls entrepreneurship in their early years is not just the right thing, but also the necessary thing.

Visit www.cousincraze.com | Email: hello@cousincraze.com for more information — the kids read the emails but parents respond | Follow Raven & Zora on IG: @cousin.craze | Tell somebody!

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by +414,678 people.

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