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Designing for the First Lady: A 15 Year Old Entrepreneur from Louisiana gets Oval Office Attention
Creative Jewelry by Bridgeja, LLC was established in 2008 by a young entrepreneur named Bridgeja Baker. Unlike most successful start-ups, however, this entrepreneur was only ten years old! Growing from annual revenues of $2,000 to over $14,500 last year, Bridgeja has attracted the attention of national chain stores and even the White House.
Before she even began high school, Bridgeja began designing jewelry for men, women, and children and quickly saw the opportunities for growth. She has expanded to necklaces, earrings, bracelets, cufflinks, lapel and tie pins, bookmarks and eyeglass holders, which are available through her website. Bridgeja also showcases and sells her jewelry at local festivals and art markets. As her reputation grew, she was sought after by brides looking for a unique gift for the bridal party. She began designing pieces for local judges and some on city council. Bridgeja also designed a three piece pearl set for First Lady Michelle Obama as well as bookmarks for the President and their two daughters, receiving a letter of thanks from the First Lady’s Deputy Chief of Staff telling her she is now a jewelry designer for the First Lady.
Bridgeja’s success has allowed her to hire two part-time employees and one seasonal worker. She hopes as her brand continues to expand that she will be able to create even more jobs. Bridgeja is committed to giving back to her community in more than just job creation. Each year, she donates a percentage of her sales to causes and organizations close to her heart, such as Children’s Hospital and the Louisiana SPCA. Bridgeja also wants to pass on all she has learned by conducting seminars on entrepreneurship for teens as well as classes and workshops on jewelry creation and running a business. As a recipient of SBA’s SCORE counseling and services, she has now become a mentor herself.
This year, Bridgeja was honored to be named SBA’s 2013 Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Louisiana. She knows she is a role model, stating “I would like to encourage other young people to start preparing for their financial futures early!”