Sixteen-year-old Beatrix Alerte was shocked to learn last year that common cosmetic and beauty brands often use ingredients derived from animal products, like whale blubber and vomit (ambergris).
One of her favorite parts of her beauty routine is jazzing up her lips - so she decided to research how to create a glamorous, sturdy lip gloss that is vegan and cruelty-free. Now, Alerte is expanding her plant-based gloss into a business, called Trixx Trendz.
"I'm a YouTuber, so I promote my own lip gloss through my channel, and I also sell locally if you go to my school or if you're in the Miami range," said Alerte, who attends William H. Turner Technical High.
Alerte is just one of the many South Florida youth entrepreneurs who are realizing they don't necessarily need a gatekeeper to hand over the keys to a successful business.
This week, over 500 students as young as 10 showed up with business pitches and iron-pressed jackets to an annual Youth Economic Development Conference at Miami Dade College’s North and Homestead campuses. It was hosted by an Overtown-based organization known as Urgent Inc. that aims to economically empower youths and create a community ripple-effect. The theme: "Making Money Moves."
Thirteen-year-old author, entrepreneur and philanthropist Taylor Moxey was a keynote speaker as the conference opened. She said entrepreneurship can happen from even a small amount of money.
"My business actually started with a $40 dollar - it didn't start with a huge, mass amount of money," Moxey said. "It was a loan that I signed on a napkin with my parents, basically my first contract."
When she was seven years old, Moxey started baking cupcakes and brownies under her company, 'Taylor the Chef.' As her brand grew, she decided to write a book called "The Adventures of Taylor the Chef," which eventually made it onto a Times Square jumbotron for about 12 hours.
Many at the conference also pitched business plans to compete for a cash prize out of a $1,000 pool.
The William H. Turner Tech trio of Martin Eugene, Leonce Luma and Mandy St. Simon are also working on manufacturing plans for a new culturally-inclusive clothing line called 'Lumar.' All three founders are hustling to hopefully start production next week and see their designs come to life.
From a family of immigrants, Eugene said 'Lumar' is focused on incorporating many Central American and Caribbean South Florida cultures into the clothing line - and hope to eventually include others, like Chinese and Japanese.
"I am half Latino, and Haitian and Jamaican - and this clothing line is really important to me," Eugene said. "It actually allows me to show people where I’m coming from, what makes all of us special."
Funds for the conference come from organizations like The Children's Trust, Royal Caribbean and the Southeast Overtown Park West Community Redevelopment Agency.