Updated: Feb 16
We were blown away when we came into contact with Naomi Porter, at such a young age she is making major moves as an entrepreneur who is dedicated to making a difference to the lives of those around her. Focusing on fulfilling a need, Naomi started both of her businesses to provide solutions to problems she saw around her and deciding to become a force for change. We find out how and why Naomi launched her businesses, how she manages her businesses with day to day life and we explore what setbacks she has faced so far plus much more.....
Naomi at the young age of only 16 you’re a serial entrepreneur, education reform advocate, public speaker and student leader. Further to this; you are also the founder of two businesses ‘Spice It Up’ and Bright Futures. What motivated and Inspired you to start your businesses?
Both of my business were started out of a necessity. They both solve a need. Spice it up sounds affordable and is part of the spice kits to reduce waste consumption and provide a sustainable alternative. Bright Futures provide quality education, affordable coaching, and flexible support for all students and parents. I was motivated to start both of my ventures because I knew I could make change in my community. When it comes to owning businesses I have always had a passion for entrepreneurship.
It is truly inspiring that someone so young has launched not one but two entrepreneurial ventures. What would you attribute your business acumen to?
Both of my business ventures align with the sustainable development goals as outlined by the United Nations and I attribute both of my businesses to the need to solve these issues on a micro level.
What are the main functions of your enterprises and how do you split your time between them?
At age 11, I founded Spice It Up, a company that sells travel spice kits that are portable and affordable. The kit is reusable, waterproof, and lightweight- perfect for all adventures. At age 13, I launched Bright Futures, through which I manage a team that serves students requiring academic support. At age 15, I founded EntrepreYOUership to provide youth with access to entrepreneurial education. We provide free workshops and mentoring to youth interested in exploring entrepreneurship. As of April we have helped over 900 youth develop entrepreneurial mindset.
With so many opportunities you have to clearly discern what to say yes to. I can’t say yes to every opportunity because every “yes” requires time and attention. Before I commit to something, I make sure it aligns with not only my goals, but that of the organizations. I want to give my full attention and produce quality work.
What steps did you take to get your business ventures off of the ground?
I participated in the 2017 Young Entrepreneur’s Academy Start Up Funding Competition and won $250 to purchase materials for Spice it Up. Funding for EntrepreYOUership was provided by my Girl Scout troop as a part of my Girl Scout Gold Award.
You’re also a National Intern for Girl Scouts of the USA, what does this role entail and how important is it for you to hold this position?
I have had the honour of being a two year national intern for Girl Scouts of the USA. My responsibilities have included developing and launching the first Girl Scout national TV show, hosting focus groups on mental health, writing research reports, and providing relevant online content for scouts during COVID. Just recently, our team of interns presented our mental health research to the National Board because we recognize the importance of de-stigmatizing mental health and providing resources for those struggling. This role is one of the most important ones I hold because our team of interns can work on issues on a national and global level.
It is evident that leadership in young women is a massive motivation for you, why is it so important for women to become leaders in their chosen fields?
The biggest part in starting any entrepreneurial journey is emphasizing collaboration over competition. Everyone has individual gifts, skills, and passions so let’s utilize our strengths and talents to collaborate to make enterprises. Connect and have conversations with other women to find collective causes you’re interested in to make a social impact. Entrepreneurs look for a need in their community. They ask themselves how they can make a difference and I encourage women to do the same things. Find your passion. Show up. The world is waiting for women and their ideas. It is so important that we become leaders to empower others to solve issues on local, national, and global levels- together.
With your entrepreneurial mindset it was no surprise to me that you founded EntrepreYOUership in 2019 to provide free entrepreneurial education to youth. Your organisation has served over 700 youth through 30+ workshops that equip youth with an entrepreneurial mindset. How did you come up with the idea for this and what steps did you take to take it into fruition?
EntrepreYOUership is an organization that democratizing access to entrepreneurial education courses by partnering with existing organizations to host workshops, webinars, and events that equipped all participants with an entrepreneurial mindset. The mission is to reform the way that we educate and train young minds. I realize there were little extracurriculars, courses, and programs in my area that focused on entrepreneurship, social impact, and activism. So I knew I could make a difference.
I started entrepreneurship in 2019 and originally was just giving in person presentations and speeches. After realizing there was a huge need for entrepreneurial education I decided to create an organization. The biggest obstacle was the pandemic because we had planned for in person events. However, we quickly pivoted and partnered with more organizations to reach a larger national and global audience since everything was virtual.
Living within a digital age it is now more important than ever to use social media to promote and raise awareness of your brands. What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your businesses?
The most effective way to raise awareness is figuring out where your target customer is and how to cater to their needs. The best way for Spice It Up is with trade shows, travel blogs, and events catered to high adventure seekers. For bright futures contacting local schools and donating to community auctions are the key ways to raise awareness. EntrepreYOUership has more of a social impact so what’s worked for us is connecting, following, and supporting other organizations with a similar mission to ours.
What challenges have you faced so far in either you life and/or ventures and what steps have you taken to overcoming them?
Sometimes people don’t realize that it’s okay to fail and entrepreneurs do it all the time. One year into my business venture, things just weren’t going as expected. Initially, I had great sales at trade fairs, holiday boutiques and online. But my sales stagnated. I had sold my product to all of my friends, neighbours and community members. I had success with online sales at the start of summer travel season. And then my sales fell flat. And just so you know: this is typical. It happens to all entrepreneurs.
I wasn’t ready to give up my business and I remembered the saying: “When things aren’t going right, GO LEFT.” This phrase carries with it both playfulness and wisdom. For me, I realized I needed to adjust my sales and marketing approach. So, I sent emails to over 50 travel gear product review bloggers asking them to review my product. If I could get a published review, then maybe it could generate more sales?
I promised a free sample shipped to their door in exchange for a review. Of the 50 requests, I had 49 reviewers who either said “no” or did not respond. And then I found one blogger who was happy to help. Gearhose is an online camping blog that reviews products for adventure-oriented travellers. The review was published last summer and that single review gave me a huge boost in online sales. The reviewer embedded a link to my online store, making it easy for readers to click and purchase a spice kit.
What does an average day look like to you?
Believe it or not- most of my businesses run themselves. So a normal day for me would be to attend virtual school from 7-2, do a couple of tutoring sessions, attend calls for business, and interview for podcasts or work on my professional life. I normally go on a 3 mile walk with my mom, do my homework, study, and head to bed! At this point in my businesses, I have systems in place because I’ve been doing it for 5 years. The longer you do something, the more habits you make, and the less time is wasted.
What drives and motivates you the most in your life and work?
I am constantly inspired by the people around me. They inspire me to keep going. Our generation has so much passion that it’s motivating to be amping activists striving to make a more equitable world. Likewise, the lack of females in business has always inspired me to push myself to keep going and bridge that gap.
What or who inspires you the most in life?
My role model and inspiration is Sophie Beren, the CEO and founder of the Conversationalist because she exemplifies the qualities of inclusion, community, empathy, humility, authenticity, and unity.
What pearls of wisdom or advice have you learned from your ventures that you can impart with our readers/followers?
My advice for anyone looking to start a business or get an internship would be to find your PASSION. And do it for YOU. Not society, not for a future job , nor anyone else. But do it for YOU and your future. Because the public will see that passion. They will feel your fire. And it will be beneficial to everyone.
If my story has taught you anything is that if you can dream it- you can DO IT. As women we are taught to doubt ourselves and compare ourselves to others. But in reality- we are FAR more similar to one another than we are different. We all strive to make our world a better place. And It starts with uplifting each other. It starts with showing up. Thus, it starts with becoming an entrepreneur.
What are you focusing on over the coming months?
Personally I’m focusing on studying for my end of year exams and AP classes. Professionally, I am focusing on scaling the reach of EntrepreYOUership, securing summer collaborations, and applying to grants and scholarships. I hope to continue my advocacy through public speaking engagements, interviews, and podcasts.
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