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Family: A Village's Strong Foundation

The first blog post hinted at the importance of my family in my pursuit to launch LESH. My parents are my foundation in a family unit that provides a firm ground on which you may begin a climb and a soft landing when things are not going as planned.

I was born in New York. The concrete jungle, they say. But I was born into strong and close- knit families, Jones & Martin and Senior & Richards. My family is exactly what a child needs to remain bright eyed and full of hope and to make this concrete jungle nothing more than my landscape.

I remember bringing so many ideas to my parents and each time I did, they made them all seem possible. Although they would challenge me, they always encouraged me.

My parents would tell you they had to learn to be as supportive as they appear. They would tell you that people around them encouraged them to nurture my entrepreneurial spirit and that doing so was not always automatic for them, especially when I seemed to always have a new idea. Like the time I was sure that I was launching a sparkling juice company over the course of a winter school break. I was sure I would be returning to school with sparking juices to sell to my peers. Each time I asked my parents if they would purchase the ingredients for me, they encouraged me to do more research. I was so confident my plan would work. I learned later my parents were just as confident that I had no idea what I was doing and one of my cousins told them to buy the ingredients anyway. From his perspective, it would be a worthwhile investment with many lessons in store for me and it would be much cheaper than business school.

I didn't start small. I insisted on a few cases of seltzer water from a wholesale club and only organic nectars from another supermarket. A few hours later, after multiple trips up and down the stairs to my grandparents who I had dubbed my taste testers, I looked at my mom and said, "major fail"! She then pointed out I had not even purchased containers for the drinks! By the next week, I was on to the next idea. I would purchase vending machines and convince my principal to allow me to put one, with healthy snacks of course, in my school and put another one at my dad's virtual office. In the future I would sell my own sparkling drinks in my vending machines.

My aunt, Nicole, knew someone who owns vending machines and made arrangements for me to shadow this person. It was the Dr Martin Luther King Jr holiday in 2020. I brought my notebook on the trip and was very attentive. I returned home from shadowing, thrilled, focused and putting all my energy into a plan to be able to purchase a vending machine and pitch my idea to my principal. I would ask family members to invest and as the business made money, I would repay them. I was overwhelmed with excitement. This was the closest I had gotten to launching a business and this idea seemed attainable.

Shortly after, COVID was here! A little later, I breathed a sigh of relief. If I was able to launch this vending machine business, my snacks would have been rotting in the vending machines, in my school. I would not make any money and would not have been able to repay my investors. I shared these thoughts with my parents. They were encouraging and sure I would soon have another idea. They were right.

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