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Young Entrepreneur Making a Splash in the New Creative Economy

Jerrya Harris grew up watching her mom, Kim, build her own businesses. Seeing her mom’s confidence and dedication during that time fueled Jerrya to start her own jewelry business at the age of eleven.

“I wanted to be an entrepreneur like my mom,” says Jerrya, who founded J’s Jewels and will be participating in the the 2021 Richmond Children’s Business Fair at the Science Museum of Virginia on July 17.

An entrepreneur, Jerrya’s mom owns a hair salon that she opened at the age of twenty-three and a t-shirt business. She is also a realtor.

“I have several businesses that I do, and Jerrya has always wanted to start her own business,” says Kim. “During the pandemic in May of last year she decided she wanted to make jewelry – bracelets and earrings.”

Founding a business while school was in session was difficult for Jerrya, who will start going to Fairfield Middle School, this fall.

“I didn’t have time,” she says. “The pandemic helped me start because I had the time.”

Kim was very supportive of her daughter’s venture.  “I asked her what she needed, and we went to craft and bead stores and she purchased the materials she needed to start,” Kim says. “I talked to her about the dedication it takes and that everybody isn’t going to be supportive.”

Jerrya additionally tried to learn as much as she could about starting a business and beading from YouTube videos. 

“Everything is a learning process,” says her mom. 

Jerrya began making beaded bracelets to sell, using a variety of materials, everything from clay and lava beads to wooden beads and charms. 

She learned early on that she will face challenges along the way, including developing a unique style. “You have to figure out different techniques on your own, and you have to figure a way to do beading and tying,” she says. 

Before she starts putting the bracelets together, she studies the beads and the pattern, trying to figure out what colors and shapes to use. To date, she has made more than one hundred bracelets.

Once she reaches her goal of 120 to 200 bracelets as inventory for the Richmond Children’s Business Fair, she will shift gears and begin making earrings, she says.

Jerrya finds the creative work calming and reassuring and has a great perspective on the business side as well. “It’s motivational, knowing I am starting my business at the age of eleven and knowing that people like my bracelets and I am selling them,” she says. “It’s fun.”

The young maker has discovered that skills she has learned in school, such as finding new solutions to problems, carry over to her own business endeavor and the concentration she has developed during the beading process helps with her work in school. 

In the future, she wants to start an online store that will help bring her products to a larger population. It’s encouraging to hear that Jerrya’s business venture goes beyond the bottom line.

“I also want to support a charity. I would like to raise money for the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU,” she says. “I eventually would like to start another business, but I am going to focus on this one first and get this one going.”

An award-winning writer based in Richmond, Joan Tupponce is a parent, grandparent, and self-admitted Disney freak. She writes about anything and everything and enjoys meeting inspiring people and telling their stories. Joan’s work has appeared in RFM since the magazine’s first issue in October 2009. Look for original and exclusive online articles about Richmond-area people, places, and ideas at Just Joan: RVA Storyteller.

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