Journi Prewitt is the founder of Black Butterfly Beautiful, a monthly subscription box that connects youth of color to inspiration and empowerment.Antoine Lever
When 17-year-old Journi Prewitt noticed her cousin wasn't interested in reading, she was determined to inspire her. And as the avid reader and aspiring entrepreneur realized more young children held that same lack of interest, she came up with a way to empower young girls and boys of color to embrace their heritage and learn to love reading, too.
Confronting negative stereotypes and underrepresentation of black men and women in the media, Prewitt created Black Butterfly Beautiful, a monthly subscription box for young girls of color to celebrate their beauty and heritage through books and products from black-owned businesses.
I want each box to show young girls they are beautiful and should celebrate who they are, Prewitt says.
Alongside her entrepreneur mother and a project manager, Prewitt curates and designs a special box each month with unique products that young girls will find inspiring.
I feel my box is helping better represent people of color by the products we provide, but I also think it helps young girls to see me as a teenage entrepreneur and African-American woman that isn't doing something typical, she says. I think it's important for young girls to see other women of color give back to their community and build other people up.
Journi Prewitt holds an assembled Black Butterfly box.Journi Prewitt
In June 2017, Black Butterfly Beautiful launched its first subscription box – on Prewitt's 17th birthday. The first shipment was a dance-themed box, the second focused on hair products, and most recently, the box was movie-themed in honor of Black Panther being released.
And while the first box only released to a small group of 12 subscribers, Prewitt says the company has grown immensely in the months that have followed. Today, Black Butterfly has more 270 subscribers and a social media following of more than 13,000.
According to Prewitt, the company's following is primarily comprised of mothers and grandmothers looking for a gift for their daughters, nieces and granddaughters – and now sons and grandsons, too. To continue expanding, the company has launched a box for boys – the Black Dragonfly box.
Lessons in Entrepreneurship
Prewitt's inspiring journey of entrepreneurship has come with a lot of lessons and support, she says.
I had to give up a few things that were important to me to make time for my company as an entrepreneur and full-time student, says Prewitt. It's been hard to balance it all, but it's been worth it.
Each Black Butterfly box includes a book and products from black-owned businesses.Black Butterfly Beautiful
Working with her mom and a local innovation group, Let's Innovate Through Education (LITE), Prewitt says she's learned the logistical parts of entrepreneurship like business planning, fundraising and creating partnerships. She adds that her school, Power Center Academy High School, has been extremely supportive of her work and has encouraged her to be proud of the company she's built.
Now, Prewitt says she's getting ready to graduate high school and pursue a career in early childhood education – in addition to growing her business. And when asked how she'll balance college and her company, she says she's getting ready to train in her young cousin – the same one who inspired the box in the first place.
I want to teach her how to run the company and give back the knowledge that I've learned along the way, she says.
And while all entrepreneurs strive to make their businesses work, Prewitt is looking for more than profits. Instead, she hopes to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs to reach for their dreams and work hard.
I want other young entrepreneurs to know it's not easy starting a business and that it takes sacrifices, but it's worth it in the end, she says. No matter what anyone says to you, believe in yourself and believe you can do tremendous things.
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