When it comes to back-to-school shopping, most 7-year-olds are thinking more about backpacks than business plans. But one entrepreneurial third-grader in Orlando, Fla. is thinking about both.
Lily Adeleye, 7, is the chief executive officer of kids accessories brand Lily Frilly. You might have seen her colorful lunchbox, backpack and hair bow designs online or at a big box store around the country — because, yes, this pint-sized, princess-loving professional locked down a major distribution deal before most kids her age were learning to multiply.
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In fact, at a mere 6 years old, Lily became the youngest CEO of a Black-owned business to land such a deal at Walmart. And that was a year after landing one at Target.
For this young business role model, it’s all about making her fans feel inspired.
“I wanted to start Lily Frilly because I wanted all girls to feel special, happy and beautiful,” Lily told In The Know via email.
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Her designs reflect that vibrant attitude. Lily’s line of bows and headbands feature pinks and purples that pop. Her backpacks and lunchboxes come in equally bright hues, and Lily’s metallic headbands add a dose of iridescent shimmer to any playground-friendly outfit.
“I like to create products by putting my favorite colors together and using those colors to design my bows,” Lily shared. “I also draw pictures and think of cool things to add to my products.”
Luckily for the enterprising young lady, she had a little help — from her mom, Courtney Adeleye, who also happens to run her own business, The Mane Choice. As a founder and CEO, Courtney helped guide Lily on her entrepreneurial journey.
“Before Lily launched her brand, I told her to always stay true to who she is and to always be authentic,” Courtney told In The Know via email. “I explained to her how it is important to build a community because the community is who builds your business. I also told her that the world can always use inspiration and motivation and to become that special person that she would want to see.”
Lily has built quite a loyal community, with followers across social media who flock to her website, purchase her products and even sign up for live events.
But it all comes back to family. In fact, Lily’s mom Courtney said she’s loved traveling down this path alongside her precocious daughter, the youngest of her three kids.
“It is such an amazing feeling working alongside my daughter. Being by her side as she travels down the journey of entrepreneurship is incredible. I never had a business mentor to help or teach me. So, I am honored to be a resource and partner to my daughter as she continues to grow her business.”
And not only is Courtney a resource for her daughter, she is also a leader among Black entrepreneurs.
“Being a role model to so many people is a great feeling,” Courtney shared. “The fact that I give hope to so many people motivates me to always do my best. My work and accomplishments are much bigger than me. I don’t do it for me, I do it for the generations to come.”
She’s passed that sense of admiration and accomplishment to her daughter.
“It feels amazing to know that I inspire people! I am inspired by many people too,” Lily said.
While Lily gets ready to hit the books (and pack them into her very own backpack), she told In The Know that she’s excited for third grade.
In addition to school and CEO-ing, the 7-year-old said she also likes to watch YouTube and Netflix. “I also like to play golf, go swimming and play with my dolls. After school, I like playing on the swings with my sister.”
She’s still a kid, after all, albeit an extremely successful one. That’s why when it comes to sharing what she knows with others, Lily has some inspiring advice of her own for budding entrepreneurs:
“I would tell them that no matter what happens to you, you can’t give up,” she said. “You have to keep going and be positive.”
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