Adeola Ariyo: How to Support Your Children’s Entrepreneurial Journey

by DC Startup Week Team

They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree — and that’s certainly the case for Adeola Ariyo, founder of GEMZ, INC., who is also a mother to a young author and entrepreneur. We asked her about her journey and what it’s like to have a son who’s written a book AND started a business before entering high school.

1. Why is it important for youth to start thinking about entrepreneurship?

I love what the DC Startup Community stands for. Providing resources, support and building a community for entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs in the DC metro area.

2. Tells us a little bit about yourself and your business.

I wear multiple hats like most people do. I’m a wife and mom of 3 adorable very active boys. I’m a brand and visionary strategist for creative and social entrepreneurs. I help creative and social entrepreneurs build a strong personal and business brand to attract their ideal clients and partners. In addition to that, I am the founder of THE GENX Ladies Network, a professional and lifestyle community for female professionals and entrepreneurs over the ages of 35+ and THE GEMZ, INC a nonprofit organization in the DC metro area that serves as a mentoring and leadership program for middle and high school aged girls.

3. What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

I was one of those who stumbled into entrepreneurship without initially planning to, I  have always been a problem-solver and so, kept creating solutions for problems I either encountered myself or people around me.

4. If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give yourself when you first started your business?

My advice would be to start off with the mindset of running your business as a business and not a hobby. Put the right business structure and processes together from the beginning, invest in learning how to run a business so you don’t waste too much time, energy and resources trying to figure things out on your own.

5. So, we hear your son is an entrepreneur, that’s fantastic! Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Thank you. Yes, my 10 year old son owns a T-Shirt and merchandise business. He’s naturally exhibited interest in entrepreneurship at an early age from constantly trying to resell items he convinced us, his parents, to get for him at the dollar store, at a marked up price and promoting his “business.”

He is also a young author of a kids book called ‘Turn Your Frown Upside Down” and alsoHe wrote the first draft at the age of 7, wanting to help other kids like himself smile more and be kind. I initially thought it was a phase but he remained very passionate and consistent about it and some months ago, the book was launched. Since then, it has generated high sales and is very well-received book by kids and parents. His T-Shirt and merchandise company helps further his message of encouraging kids to be happy, kind and creative.

6. Why is it important for youth to start thinking about entrepreneurship?

There are several reasons. Research shows that kids who develop entrepreneurial skills at a younger age exhibit more confidence and leadership skills than their peers who do not. Second, entrepreneurship introduces the youth to life skills such as financial literacy, confidence, creativity and public speaking. Lastly, they get the opportunity to start wealth-building at an earlier age.

7. How can parents best support their child’s entrepreneurial journey?

First and foremost, provide the mental and emotional support needed. Let him or her feel safe and confident in your support regardless of the outcome of their entrepreneurial journey. It’s also smart to invest in classes or programs that will allow improve their skills and business. Lastly, always remember he or she is a kid/youth first so balance is very key.

Thanks for your advice, Adeola! Your work with GEMZ has clearly paid off — and seems to have positively impacted your children as well. We’re excited to see you at DCSW.