Shomari Patterson always knew she wanted her jewelry-making business to incorporate an element of social responsibility. Many worthy causes called to her, but the one that commanded her immediate attention was the plight of victims of human trafficking. Currently, she makes a donation for each piece of jewelry sold to a program that rehabilitates and empowers girls rescued from the sex trade, with “jewelry compassion kits”.
Surprisingly, several of Shomari’s most loyal customers are men, who buy her double necklaces and bracelets as gifts for wives, girlfriends and friends. Still, most of her purchasers are female, and Shomari plans to hire women from local shelters to help with production and marketing as her business grows. She is counting on viral marketing, networking and jewelry shows to help her reach her goal of placing her products in local boutiques by the end of the year.
Having placed 2nd in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s (NFTE) National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in October, Shomari plans to use her $5,000 prize to continue her education by attending college and majoring in business, and ultimately hopes to take Shamazzle’s Dazzles global and continue to partner with a non-profit business, or perhaps start her own.
With this win, Shomari’s vision has now come full circle. But as much as Shamazzle’s Dazzles has helped others, nobody has benefited more than Shomari herself. In addition to her supportive family, Shomari credits her NFTE teacher, Kara Brown, for bringing her out of her shell, teaching her to focus on the present, and developing her public speaking skills. But above all, Shomari has gained confidence.
“Before NFTE, I had lost all hope in myself and my future. I was unsure about what I wanted to do in life. I also didn’t think that college was for me,” says Shomari. “Now I’m a completely different person. I have hope again, I’m able to set a goal and go through with it, I’m more optimistic, and lastly I’m a lot happier. I can honestly say that NFTE has changed my life for the better.”
“You have to be daring and willing to take risks, because sometimes the risks you take will be the best choices you have made for your business.”
You can read Shomari's business plan presentation here.