Amber Rhodes is the winner of the inaugural Rising Innovator Scholarship.
By Amber Rhodes
My mom always told me I would make a good entrepreneur. When I asked what an entrepreneur was, she would say it was a strong-willed individual who made money by making their own rules. I loved the idea of money, so I was all on board with the idea of becoming an entrepreneur. However, as I got older, I began to learn there was more to being an entrepreneur than just making money. Being an entrepreneur means developing business ideas that will change the world, persevering through all obstacles in the way, and serving as an inspiration to others.
Every Saturday morning, my mom and I would sit in the living room watching “Shark Tank.” From the first moment I watched Shark Tank, I immediately became infatuated with it. I aspired to be like the sophisticated men and women who took a risk to launch their own businesses and mustered the courage to get on the show and speak in front of a prestigious board of investors and television audience. Whether they got a deal or not, every person I saw on the show had an inspiring story that encouraged me to pursue my dream of being an entrepreneur.
In my fourth grade gifted and talented class, we held an innovation fair where we created products to solve an issue in our everyday lives. My problem was other kids at my school misbehaving during class and disrupting my learning. I built a prototype for a shock bracelet called “tickle tickle” that would help correct the mischievous behaviors of my peers. Although now I realize that my product was not the most humane invention, the innovation fair opened my eyes to the world of entrepreneurship and continued to spark the entrepreneurial flame inside of me.
At my high school, I had the opportunity to partake in the Incubator Program, a two-year entrepreneurship class. In this program, we were assigned partners and worked together to develop a business idea, write a business plan, pitch our business to a board of investors, and make our business dreams a reality. My partner and I created BYou, a custom online clothing company. We had the opportunity to pitch to multiple boards of investors and won $3300 in start-up funds for our company. Unfortunately, as we neared graduation, we lost motivation to keep pursuing BYou, but the knowledge and skills we have gained from this program at our school will last us forever as we continue on our paths of becoming entrepreneurs.
The best way to create success as an entrepreneur is to create a business that reflects something you love. As an entrepreneur, you are the boss and have to motivate yourself to work each day and achieve your business goals. I love going out to brunch on the weekends; I even have an account on Instagram where I post pictures and videos of myself at each breakfast place I go. As an entrepreneur, I created an online business idea surrounding my love of brunch, but I want to expand that in the future by starting a brunch restaurant. I know the restaurant industry is very competitive, but that does not scare me from aspiring to start my business. I have been planning the structure of my restaurant for over a year now and am excited to go to college and gain more business knowledge so I can successfully start and run my future brunch restaurant.
I believe it is essential for entrepreneurs to give back to their communities. I want to create a nonprofit organization called Mixed and Magnificent that will strive to uplift and empower biracial youth like myself. Being a biracial girl growing up in the early 2000s has provided me with many unique perspectives, but also many challenges. No other kids in my elementary school were mixed, so I always stood out. However, I always longed to find somebody who looked similar to me, especially since I was an only child. No one in my family has my tan skin or curly hair with natural blonde highlights. I hated being at a restaurant and the hostess not realizing the people behind me were my family.
As I got older, I started to notice the comments my classmates would whisper under their breath about me being a “mixed-breed,” and exclaiming that I wasn’t “white or black enough.” It felt like no matter what I did, I would never feel accepted in any racial group. I don’t want any biracial kids in the future feeling like I did while they are growing up.
Using my entrepreneurial spirit and the skills I will learn through the degrees I pursue in college, I want to create Mixed and Magnificent to inspire kids like myself that it is okay to not look like your friends and family. I believe that my nonprofit organization will have the opportunity to impact many kids who look and grew up similar to me. My organization will also host annual scholarships for biracial college-bound students because there is a lack of scholarships exclusively available to this community.
Many people have told young entrepreneurs that they will never achieve their dreams. People have told me to give up, and I know that no matter what I do, there will always be people who will doubt my capabilities. Being an entrepreneur is about creating world-changing ideas, and no matter what others say, believing and sticking to those ideas and making them become a reality. Entrepreneurs are inspirational individuals who always stay true to themselves to create innovations and ideas that will benefit others around them. I do not know for sure what the future has in store for me, as plans can always change, but I do know that I will for sure be an entrepreneur.
Learn more about the Rising Innovator Scholarship.