Raelynn Heath’s bling is inspiring, her mother said. The 8-year-old entrepreneur has spent half her life developing a brand built on crafting original jewelry and repairing broken pieces, she said.
“We take a little bit of the old and the new and the practical,” said Regina Lastiee-Heath.
Young Raelynn markets her jewelry on Facebook and Etsy, and recently was featured in the 1 Million Cups Black Entrepreneurship Showcase Feb. 28 at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. She and her mother are in the process of applying for a business license for Rae’s Materials, Lastiee-Heath said.
Making and selling her own jewelry since she was 4, Raelynn specializes in bracelets.
She started with plastic beads and then branched out to use acrylic and bubblegum beads when she was 5, Lastiee-Heath said. Raelynn now has expanded her merchandise to include the use of a variety of materials, including polymer clay. She often upcycles used items — anything from soda pop labels and chip bags to old clothes she outgrew and empty duct tape rolls — her mother said.
Raelynn’s creativity is matched only by her generosity, Lastiee-Heath said.
The girl regularly donates jewelry to community members who have experienced recent trauma, such as loss of a loved one, she said.
“[It’s] just to brighten peoples’ day, to make them feel better,” Lastiee-Heath said.
Inspired by her daughter’s efforts, Lastiee-Heath encourages other young girls to become entrepreneurs and to pursue their dreams, she said. Lastiee-Heath leads a nonprofit, G.I.R.L.Y. (Gifted, Intelligent, Respectful, Leaders, and Young), dedicated to applying that mission.
“She helps entrepreneurs just like me,” Raelynn said. “She helps them get up to their goals where they can succeed in life and help them own their own business by themselves and teach them life goals.”
Raelynn wants to grow her jewelry business and expand it to other areas of fashion, she said, but she knows school comes first. She plans to pursue a college degree in fashion and eventually own and operate a storefront in Paris, she said.
“In the future, I think Rae’s Materials will be awesome, and I think by [age] 16, I will be a millionaire,” Raelynn said. “Because you’ve got to start somewhere.”
— 1 Million Cups KC (@1MillionCupsKC) March 1, 2018