By Cathy Jett
The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) 10 year old Jelani Jones, who launched “Lani Boo Bath” when she was only eight shared her story of success on national TV. Jones along with, 13-year-old founder of “Me & the Bees” Mikaila Ulmer were both featured on the Harry Connick Show for being top young entrepreneurs.
The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va.
Many entrepreneurs wait years to get national exposure for their products.
But for one 10-year-old Spotsylvania County business owner, it’s apparently just taken a couple months.
Jelani Jones, who sells the fizzy bath bombs and fragrant bath soaps she whips up in her family’s kitchen, will be featured Monday in the Biz-Ventors segment of Harry Connick Jr.’s daytime talk show.
She and her mom, Crystal Jones, aren’t sure, but they think her appearance is due to an email Crystal Jones sent to the “Harry” show several months ago. Its website has a section called “Be on the Show” with links to a short form that people can fill out if they want to appear.
“Lani and I just talk about how we can spread the word about what she’s doing and this was just a way to do it. Lani is not afraid to put herself out there,” said Crystal Jones. “One day they just called and told us they found us, so I’m not sure if they got my email or not. They said they had a segment they wanted Jelani to be a part of.”
One of the show’s producers then interviewed the Faith Baptist School fifth-grader on FaceTime.
“It was a short interview, like five minutes,” said Jelani, who launched Lani Boo Bath when she was only eight.
“She asked the usual questions. ‘How did you start your business? Why did you start? Why do you want to be on the ‘Harry’ show?’ It was a good series of questions.”
The producer called back shortly afterward to say the show would pick up the tab for Jelani and her family to come to New York City for the taping of today’s episode.
“My mom and I did a little happy dance,” said Jelani.
The Joneses flew to the Big Apple on Jan. 15 for the show, which is filmed before a live audience at the CBS Broadcast Center. Jelani was featured along with Mikaila Ulmer, the 13-year-old founder of Me & the Bees Lemonade.
She said she was initially nervous when her time to appear arrived, but felt better once she was on stage. She got to talk about her business for three minutes, and Mikaila got five minutes.
“Harry asked me if there was anything I wanted to ask Mikaila,” Jelani said. “I asked her, ‘How do I get more exposure for my products?’ ”
Mikaila suggested that she put together a basket of her bath products and show them to retailers to see if they’d like to sell them in their stores.
“I think I could actually use that,” said Jelani, who’s mainly been selling by word of mouth, at craft fairs and through her site on Etsy.
She said that she got to shake hands with Connick, whom she thought was nice, but didn’t get to talk to him much. The fun part, for her, was getting to see the show’s dressing rooms and finding out that Susan Colicki Watson of “This is Us” would be on the show.
The Joneses only stayed in New York overnight, but Jelani did get to see a bit of New York City. She was thrilled to catch a glimpse of the swanky Plaza Hotel, where “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,” was filmed as an Uber driver took them to the Hudson New York hotel in Manhattan. And she got to walk around Times Square, the Time Warner Center and the Apollo Theater in Harlem the night before the show was to be taped.
“It was so exciting,” Jelani said. “People wait for years to be on television, and it was so easy for me. I don’t know about my parents, but it felt easy for me.”
She said that she started working on new goals for her home-based business after her “Harry” appearance, including a website and a line of body butters. She’d also like to see if she can get on other TV shows such as “The Steve Harvey Morning Show” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
Jelani’s advice for other young entrepreneurs who want to follow in her footsteps?
“Work hard, because if you work hard you can pursue what you want to do,” she said. “Work hard and be good.”