Nine-year-old takes ‘hold’ of hair accessory market

This young lady handles inventory, serves as the lead salesperson at trade shows, speaks to community groups, writes thank you cards to online customers and even helps with sales taxes. She was chosen as a “2015 South Carolina Young Entrepreneur of the Year,” and holds the distinction of being the youngest person to ever receive this honor. And she’s only nine-years-old. Meet Gabrielle Goodwin, president and CEO of GaBBY Bows.

Gabrielle Goodwin and her mother Rozalynn Goodwin on the set of the national television show, “The Real,” discussing the hair accessory during the show’s “Girl Power” segment.

(Courtesy Photo)

Gabrielle Goodwin and her mother Rozalynn Goodwin on the set of the national television show, “The Real,” discussing the hair accessory during the show’s “Girl Power” segment.

Gabrielle was just five-years-old when she started insisting that she and her mom Rozalynn Goodwin create a barrette that would stay in her hair. They started the company when Gabrielle was seven years old. According to Gabrielle and her mom, The Double-Face Double-Snap Barrette by GaBBY solved the age-old problem of disappearing girls’ hair barrettes, noting that the product won’t slip out of braids, pigtails, or twists.

“I happened to be on Twitter one day with some other women, and we were all discussing that barrettes would not stay in our daughters’ hair,” recalled Goodwin. “We were just venting. It never crossed my mind, that we could be the solution to the problem. My pastor, Herbert Bailey of the Right Direction Church, International in South Carolina also happened to be on Twitter. He tweeted that it sounded like a market you need to break into.”

She added, “I replied that I would get on it, and prayed to God, that if there was an idea there, to show it to me. Gabrielle also stayed on me every day about it. At most, I thought we would come up with an idea, sell it to a hair accessory company, name it after Gabrielle, and then go on with our lives. But God had something else in store.”

Indeed God did. In just two years of operations, more than 13,000 packs of GaBBY Bows have been sold through online sales and in 25 retail stores in the Southeast. The hair accessory also landed Gabrielle and her mom on the national television show, “The Real.” The segment aired Thursday, June 30, 2016, and featured the two on the show’s “Girl Powered” segment discussing their invention.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Gabrielle. “I got to go to L.A., and meet a lot of people.”

The elder Goodwin added, “For me, being on ‘The Real’ was surreal. To have the opportunity to share our story and the invention was outstanding. Gabby’s dad and I were very proud of how she conducted herself on the interview. She came across very bold and confident. After the interview, we had a spike in orders from all over the country.”

Gabrielle also hosts GaBBY Play Dates to teach girls in children’s shelters about entrepreneurship. She discussed how she balances her busy schedule.

“It’s a lot of work,” she said. “Sometimes I wake up early and go to bed late. If I have to be someplace, I get picked up early.”

On July 31, 2016, GaBBY Bows also concluded a successful Kickstarter campaign, exceeding its $25,000 fundraising goal.

“We raised $28,000 on Kickstarter,” said Goodwin. “The monies raised from Kickstarter will fund two new designs that will expand our market. We want to manufacture new designs and new colors. Our customers wanted a smaller version of the bows for toddlers and infants. They also wanted a bow for braids. Our engineers had the drawings ready— we just needed capital. We also plan on breaking into the boutique market as well.”

GaBBY Bows was recently named a “2016 SCORE and Sam’s Club American Small Business Champion,” and is in the running for the competition’s $25,000 grand prize award, which will be announced in September.

GaBBY Bows was also one of 14 national finalists for the “2015 U.S. Small Business Administration InnovateHER Business Competition.”

“Some people are afraid of the word ‘no,’ so they never pursue their dreams,” said Goodwin. “But we look at the word ‘no’ as ‘next opportunity.’ You just need one ‘yes’ to get past ‘no.’ Make that first step, and you will be amazed. There are SCORE mentors all over the country, and it’s a free service. There is free help in all of our communities. You just have to take the first step.”

She added, “It’s all a matter of perspective. We don’t sugar coat it. It’s a lot of work. If you want to pursue your dream and passion, it’s worth the sacrifice.”

Gabrielle shared this advice.

“Obstacles will be there, but don’t give up,” said the fourth grader. “Dream and pursue it.”

For more information about GaBBY Bows, visit: www.gabbybows.com.