Owning a business takes grit, determination, and passion, and one teenager in Brooklyn, New York, is proving she has what it takes to run her own beauty supply store. Paris McKenzie, who is about to enter her junior year of high school, exhibits a certain level of professionalism that makes her employees feel comfortable working with her.
The 16-year-old ventured into the world of Black hair business last month and became the first teenager in Brooklyn and the youngest Black owner of a beauty supply business. The Black Hair industry is a very lucrative one but it is dominated and mostly run by non-Blacks, mostly Asians.
Black women are the biggest consumers of the beauty industry and in Chris Rock’s documentary on hair, it was mentioned that the black hair business is worth over $9 billion. Regardless of the buying power of African Americans, there is only 7 percent of them who are stakeholders owning their own beauty supply store.
McKenzie’s beauty supply shop, Paris Beauty Supplyz, may be in Brooklyn but it is one more Black-owned beauty supply store helping change the narrative in the industry.
Although a teenager, the young entrepreneur is not a novice at running a business. Her mother, Senica Thompson, owns a boutique on the same street as her beauty supply store and a salon two doors away.
Over the years, she has been working with her mother in her two businesses. One might say she was learning the ropes of the industry from an early age.
“I could leave her to do anything from when she was young,” said her mother.
She cultivated the habit of saving which as well served as the seed money to open her own business.
“I do have a lot of business experience. I’ve been helping my mom run her business since I was very, very young. So I know how to handle finances and how to market products in the store,” McKenzie told CBS News. “I had enough money saved to invest in this.”
Her age does not impede the running of her business either and her employees accord her the necessary respect as their boss and friend.
“Paris, she’s like a little sister to me. I respect her. Its fun,” said Giselle Ashby, 22, who works at the shop.”
The new beauty supply store in Flatbush has caught people’s attention on social media as McKenzie is well vexed in marketing herself on there. Customers have been trooping in steadily to support her new venture.
“My cousin told me about this. She found it on Instagram and told me that a young lady… in our community had opened up her first store. So, I came to support her,” said Jacqueline Etienne.
Being an entrepreneur is not all be it all for McKenzie who aspires to be an orthopedic pediatric surgeon. The straight-A student has her eyes set on medical school and hopes to major in pre-med. Her mother believes in her potentials and believes “she’s gonna do it.”
McKenzie is also ahead of peers in high school because the honors student has been taking college courses. In all this, she wants to serve as an inspiration to other girls and show them that you can chase your dreams no matter what age you are and still have fun with friends when the need be.
“I don’t really have any more free time, but when I do, I try to go out with my friends,” said McKenzie. “Walking in here every morning, it makes me feel awesome.”