From overcoming challenges to building a thriving business empire, her story is a testament to determination and resilience.
In the face of adversity, Kennedi Harris emerged as a beacon of inspiration, transforming a terrifying incident into a powerful force for positive change. Her entrepreneurial journey, starting at just 7 years old, is a testament to her resilience and determination. From creating safety lockets to founding K-Lock Products, her innovative spirit knows no bounds. Kennedi’s story is not just about running a successful business but empowering a generation. With her invaluable lessons, she encourages fellow youngsters to believe in themselves, pursue their dreams, and turn challenges into opportunities. Kennedi’s remarkable story serves as a reminder that age is no barrier to achieving greatness.
Kennedi, can you share the story behind the inception of your company? What motivated a junior high student like you to embark on this entrepreneurial journey?
So, when I was seven years old, something terrifying happened to me. I was kidnapped from my school by a state worker. Can you believe it? The worker was looking for a Kennedi with a different ending in their name, but they picked me because my name came first alphabetically. They didn’t even do their homework to ensure they had the right Kennedi! I was away from my family for almost three and a half hours. It was a truly horrifying experience.
But you know what? Instead of letting that terrifying event bring me down, I decided to turn it into something positive. I created my own special safety locket that had a child’s name, parent information, and their school details. This way, no other kid would have to go through a similar situation because of a mix-up. And that’s when I started my own company called K-Lock Products. It was the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey!
From there, things just kept growing. I wanted to ensure that dolls like me, African-American dolls, were represented well, so I created an excellent collection of them. And you know what else? I wrote my very first book called “Lemons to Lemonade.” This book was all about my challenges and how I turned those lemons into lemonade by making the best out of a negative situation.
As I got older, I noticed that kids my age weren’t always as healthy as they could be. So, I decided to do something about it and started my health and nutrition company called K-Lock Health. It’s my main business now! I made my particular multivitamins just for kids, and more recently, I created my unique blend of food seasonings called K-Lock Flavor Kick. They come in yummy flavors like bold and sweet, as well as lemon pepper. My goal with my business is to promote healthy living and good eating habits.
Such a traumatic experience also made me realize how important it is to speak positively and have a positive mindset. That’s why I created my super popular K-Lock Affirmation flash cards. They help people, especially kids, think simply with positive affirmations.
So, that’s the story behind the inception of my company! It all started with that scary incident, but I turned it around and used it as fuel to create unique products and make a difference. I’m just a junior high student, but I’m showing the world that age doesn’t matter when you have big dreams and a mindset for success!
Being a CEO while still in junior high must present its unique challenges. How do you manage to balance your academic responsibilities with the demands of running a business?
Managing both my business and school responsibilities as a 13-year-old can be quite challenging, but I’ve found a way to balance it all. Unlike adults who often work 40 hours a week, I don’t have to put in that much time into my business. Between attending events, speaking engagements, and shipping out products, I usually spend around four hours a week on these tasks. Being an entrepreneur gives me the advantage of buying back my time, unlike having a traditional nine-to-five job. This time freedom is really valuable to me.
For the past few years, I actually homeschooled through a virtual school program. However, this year I decided to attend in-person school again because I wanted to have a better understanding and comparison of homeschooling versus traditional schooling. It’s important for me to experience being a regular 13-year-old and enjoy school life while still making money and having an impact through my business.
To manage my academic responsibilities and business demands, I prioritize and plan my time effectively. I allocate specific time blocks for studying and completing school assignments, and I make sure to set aside dedicated time for my business activities as well. Additionally, I have a supportive team that helps me in various aspects of my business, which eases the workload.
Of course, sometimes things can get a bit overwhelming, but I’ve learned to handle stress and find moments to relax. It’s important to take breaks, engage in hobbies, and spend time with friends and family to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Overall, it’s a constant juggling act, but with proper time management and a supportive network, I’m able to navigate the unique challenges of being a CEO while still in junior high.
Were there any role models or specific events in your life that inspired or influenced your decision to become a business owner at such a young age?
My dad and my bonus mom have been the biggest inspirations for me in starting my own business. When that scary incident happened in my life, my bonus mom was there for me. She helped me cope with the situation and provided me with ways to heal. That experience actually became the foundation of my business. It gave me the motivation to create products and solutions that could help others in difficult situations, just like she helped me.
On the other hand, my dad is an incredibly successful businessman. He has achieved so much in his career, and seeing his accomplishments really motivated me to go into business for myself. He showed me that age doesn’t define success and that I could make a difference even as a young entrepreneur.
It’s also amazing to think about my family history when it comes to entrepreneurship. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs. Even before I was born, my family members started the first two African-American hotels in Atlanta during the civil rights era. They also owned the first and only black-owned taxi service. My grandparents and parents have successfully run their own companies as well, paving the way for my generation to follow in their footsteps. I’ve even inspired my younger brother to start his successful business as well.
Having such inspiring figures in my life, along with the entrepreneurial spirit that runs through my family, has truly influenced my decision to become a business owner at a young age. I’m grateful for their support, guidance, and the example they have set for me. They showed me that with determination and smart work, I can achieve anything I set my mind to, no matter my age.
Walk us through a day in the life of Kennedi Harris. How do you structure your day, from school to meetings and beyond?
So, let me walk you through a day in my life as a dual CEO and 8th grader. During the school season, I start my day by having a nutritious breakfast to fuel myself up. Then, it’s off to school for me!
After school, I tackle any homework I have, making sure to stay on top of my studies. But that’s not all, because I also have speaking events and meetings to prepare for. It’s all about finding a balance, you know?
If I had any orders during the day for my business, I would take the time to package them up and get them ready for shipping the next morning. Gotta make sure everything is organized and good to go!
In the morning, I also check my email system just to see if there are any new orders that came in overnight. It’s always exciting to see people interested in what I do!
But hey, life isn’t all about work. I spend a lot of quality time with my family, and I’ve got this amazing Rottweiler named Xena who I absolutely adore. We do all the cool stuff that any other 13-year-old would do. I get to be myself and enjoy every moment of my life.
And when there’s a speaking event or some other engagement coming up on the weekend, I take some time during the week to refine my Keynote talk. Practice makes perfect, right?
Oh, and let me tell you about the summer months! My family and I love to travel and have awesome adventures together. This past summer, we even lived in the country of Panama for a month. We do all sorts of excellent activities and make incredible memories. Family is super important to me, and they always come first in my life.
So, that’s a glimpse into my day-to-day routine. It may sound busy, but I prioritize and find joy in everything I do. Being a CEO and a student is a balancing act, but it’s worth it!
What has been the most challenging aspect of your journey so far, and on the flip side, what achievement are you most proud of?
You asked about the most challenging aspect of my journey so far and what achievement I’m most proud of, so let me share it with you!
The most challenging part of my journey has been public speaking. It used to be hard for me to speak in front of people; even just two people would make me nervous. The first couple of times I took the stage to speak, I actually cried. But with practice and determination, I overcame that fear and now I feel comfortable speaking in front of large crowds! It took a lot of work, but it was definitely worth it.
Actually, my challenge and my achievement are one in the same! Overcoming my fear of public speaking has helped me to speak to larger crowds and make a greater impact in people’s lives. It’s allowed me to share my message, my business, and my products with so many more people. Sometimes, what seems like the biggest obstacle can truly lead to the greatest reward.
I’m really proud of myself for pushing through and practicing the skills that were necessary to achieve this. It’s not always easy, but when you work hard and overcome obstacles, it’s an amazing feeling.
Where do you see your company in the next five years, and how do you envision evolving as its CEO as you move through your high school and possibly college years?
So, when I think about the next 3 to 5 years for my company, I’ve got some big goals in mind. One of my main goals is to have my products available in Big Box stores. How cool would that be? It would give me the opportunity to reach even more people and make a bigger impact.
But it’s not just about the sales and success of my business. I really want to inspire and encourage other kids to start their own businesses at a young age. I want to show them that they have the power to make their dreams come true, just like I’m doing.
As I navigate through high school and possibly college, I see myself evolving as the CEO of my company. I’ll continue to learn and grow, gaining new skills and knowledge that will help me take my business to the next level. It’s all about staying curious, open-minded, and adaptable.
I’m also excited to expand my product line during these years. Innovation is key, and I want to keep creating amazing products that people will love and that will make a positive difference in their lives. Who knows, maybe I’ll have some new and groundbreaking products in the near future!
So, that’s where I see my company headed in the next 3 to 5 years. I’m pumped for the journey and all the possibilities that lie ahead.
There are many young people out there whom your story might inspire. What advice would you offer fellow youngsters dreaming of starting their own ventures?
If there are young people out there dreaming of starting their own ventures, I’ve got some advice for them. First things first, do your research! Look for people who are already successful in the field you’re interested in and learn from them. See what they do and how they do it. It’s like having a roadmap to success!
But here’s the thing, sometimes people, especially adults, might try to discourage you. They might say that you’re too young or that your dreams are too big. Don’t let that get to you! Believe in yourself and your abilities. Age shouldn’t define what you can achieve. You’ve got it within you to do amazing things!
Having self-belief is super important. Trust in yourself and your dreams. Focus on what you want to achieve and work hard for it. With determination and dedication, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish.
So, to all the fellow youngsters out there with big dreams, remember to research, find inspiration, don’t let others discourage you, and most importantly, believe in yourself! Your dreams are worth pursuing, and you have what it takes to make them a reality.
Contributing Writer – Dr. Cozette M. White, Tax & Accounting Strategist. I help disruptive Tax & Accounting Professionals ready to show up and play big as an industry leader! Learn more about Dr. Cozette M. White at www.cozettemwhite.com.