It’s Friday, Friday — gotta get down on Friday!
In honor of Women’s History Month, I will spotlight and celebrate four amazing women “millenials on a mission” over the course of the month.
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing this young lady for a very long time, and her entrepreneurial and innovative spirit is one that I’ve always admired since our days at Evanston Township High School. She’s definitely a young woman that has capitalized on thinking outside of the box –creating her own unique opportunities that will challenge her in becoming a smarter and more savvy business woman.
I’d like to introduce to some and present to others, Kelley O. Williams.
A 2009 graduate of Howard University, Kelley studied marketing in the School of Business and truly enjoyed her four-year experience. As a student leader, Kelley was active in the campus community both inside and outside of the classroom. She credits her alma mater for instilling the power of innovative thinking in its students. “Howard University is really focused on equipping students who have an entrepreneurial spirit with the know-how, confidence and courage to go out into the world and make things happen.”
On starting her first business at sixteen:
My favorite venture that is near and dear to my heart—even to this day— is GO BALLOONEY!. I started it with my younger sister, Jessica. My sister learned how to make balloon animals as a hobby and when she became really good at it, and I thought to myself “we can actually make some money off of this!” Evanston, Illinois has a large demographic of families with small children, and small children have birthday parties that need entertainment. I worked on the marketing side—determining our target customer, developing pricing, designing marketing materials–and my sister worked on the product side, making sure that we delivered high quality entertainment by offering unique balloon art designs and having the right materials and equipment to do so. GO BALLOONEY! took us a lot of places. We secured a weekly contract with a local restaurant to provide entertainment to their customers, and I even entered into business plan competitions that took me to the state and national level. It was an amazing experience, and learned that I not only enjoyed marketing, but I also had a knack for it.
Kelley’s newest business venture stems from an idea that her mother had when she was younger for customized picture puzzles for children. About a year ago while going through some boxes in her basement, Kelley discovered the characters again. From that moment, “Paige and Paxton Puzzle” were re-born and now have blossomed in their own animated adventures.
On bring Paige and Paxton back to life:
The resurrection came in the form of children’s books. My mom and I love children, and our vision is to deliver entertainment with purpose. Paige, Paxton and Puzzleland have an underlying message that being different is an essential part of who we are as human beings. It reinforces the qualities in our children that we cherish: self-esteem and confidence, cooperation, and teamwork. When children feel good about themselves, they’re invincible. Right now, “Paige Finds Her Perfect Fit” is available Amazon.com. Bookstores and other retailers can order the book wholesale through Ingram. We are working on our next book, Paxton Finds His Perfect Fit, and we launched a Kickstarter campaign to complete the book illustrations. We are also forming our Paige & Paxton team to drive sales and retail relationships, continue to build our online community, and execute event experiences for our customers. If anyone is interested in joining the team, please feel free to reach out!
Like many millennials hustling everyday to bring their dreams to life, the ultimate goal is to find that work-life balance without feeling guilty about it. Kelley is no different, and has found a way to learn and grow from both experiences.
On achieving the balance between her career and personal life:
I make time for Paige & Paxton. After work and on the weekends is when you’ll find me working on my favorite little puzzle people. Although it can be hard to balance the two, I really think that my exposure and learning to both sides help me succeed on both ends. For example, Paige & Paxton stretch my thinking as a marketer, allowing me to sharpen my social media skills on my own terms. I can experiment and try new things that may be more difficult to do in a large corporate environment.
To Kelley, to be a “Millennial on a Mission” is to not accept no for an answer, and if you don’t see a clear path make your own. “For example,” she says, “I knew nothing about the publishing before I embarked on journey, but I worked really hard on learning and developing a sound understanding of the industry.” One piece of advice she offers young entrepreneurs is “to be open to taking risks, constantly seek advice, learn from failure and to be resilient—you can’t be a defeatist.” I am so impressed with Kelley’s growth as an entrepreneur, and I look forward to hearing more about the exciting adventures of Paige and Paxton!