Youth business owners highlight the importance of female ownership

Sisters and co-owners of the Hunnybunny Boutique, 10-year-old Nya Byers and 5-year-old Zuri Byers use their skincare business to celebrate the beauty of women all year long.

While Nya and Zuri may only be children, thanks to their employees who also happen to be their parents, these young businesswomen have already grasped the importance of black female ownership.

“The kids in my class don’t really know a lot about owning a business. The girls will say that it’s cool, and the boys act like they don’t really care. But I know how important it is now for me to own this business now and when I grow up.” says Nya Byers.

Washington D.C. has become one of the top cities for female inclusive entrepreneurship. According to Forbes, between the year 2007 and 2018, the number of businesses owned by black women grew 163% and accounted for 47% of all women-owned businesses nationwide. Although black women have recently seen a progression in ownership, inequalities across the business industry are still present.

“Empowerment, empowerment, empowerment. That’s the whole idea behind this. We want our girls to grow up with the mindset of saying I can do anything. I can run my own business and be a successful entrepreneur. We want to give them the fundamental foundation to know that black girls rock,” says mother Leigh Byers.

Leigh Byers created Hunnybunny Boutique after educating herself on harmful chemicals that she found in many store-bought skin care products. She started this business with the intent of creating and selling all natural products for her children. What started out as small farmers market soap sales have grown into a storefront on Capitol Hill providing lip balm, facial masks, soap, lotions, shampoo, deodorant, and body butter.

“It all started with us just wanting to put good clean and natural things on our girls. We started by just making soap at first, then we kind of just blossomed after that,” says Leigh Byers.

For the past five years, Andre Byers has been the experimental subject for all of the Hunnybunny products. When this father is not assisting his wife in making the products, he describes himself as the examinee.

He says, “It started out with them making the products, and I would be the guinea pig. I would often times joke that I was going to walk outside and combust into flames because I had ten different trial ingredients on all at one time. Well, I survived everything, and here we are five years and some change later.”

This family-run business is open Tuesday through Sunday, but the work never stops. Leigh and Andre Byers aim to teach their children to be hard working independent women.

Some may wonder, what’s the hardest part of owning a business as a child?

“Well, I’m really like the face of the business. Working here is fun sometimes, but I’m only 10-years-old, so helping make things is probably the biggest challenge for me. Especially things like the sugar scrubs,” says Nya Byers.

Like any other business, the Byers family is not exempt to obstacles and challenges. When asked of such problems Nya says, “Working with my 5-year-old sister has always been like a challenge for me. It’s really hard to work with your little sister without arguing.”

Andre Byers says, “The biggest challenge is building brand recognition. It’s very difficult to break through the noise of T.V. and other products and just trying to get noticed. I think that the only way that we’ve been able to do this is with the girls.”

He says, “I will say that overall black women are the strongest supporters of our business. They embrace the girls; they embrace the empowerment of young girls being business owners, and they support it. They are always looking to support young black female entrepreneurs.”

This family prides itself on hand making every product that is sold in the boutique. Mrs. Byers says, “It all starts with the fact that we would never sell you anything that we wouldn’t use on our girls. Most of our products contain six ingredients or less, and they are a combination of things that you could eat.”

Nya says, “I’ve seen people come up at the farmers market and just take a bite out of our products. One boy in my class even knew that it was soap, and he ate it anyway. So that says a lot.”

What makes your business unique compared to other skin care brands? 

Nya says, “Well first, a lot of people say this, but our stuff is actually all natural. We have a lot of good stuff, like our cranberry and avocado moisturizer, that’s my favorite. I really like the scent and the colors. To me, it’s kind of just like, what’s not to like about it? And second, me and my sister are running it, and yeah, we’re pretty special.”