In celebration of small business month, we’ve re-launched our business profile series giving a brief snapshot of MN’s Black-owned businesses. MSR contributor Sheletta Brundidge’s son, Andrew, conducted this interview. Andrew is a 7th-grade student at St. Thomas Academy. He lives in Cottage Grove with his mom and dad, Shawn.
I’m 12 years old and I get an allowance every week from my parents if I don’t get in trouble and I do all my chores. When I don’t do what is expected, I don’t get the money they owe me. I never thought that I could make money on my own — until I met Aniki Allen. Aniki is just 11 years old, and he owns his own company called Ice Cream Bow Ties.
He uses Legos to build neckwear for both kids and adults. It’s really cool that Aniki took his love of building Legos and created a way to build his own business. It’s really unique to think you can wear a Lego creation around your neck, but they look good when you put one on.
Aniki says it takes one hour to make each one — he charges $30 and each one is custom made. I bought one of his Star Wars bow ties to wear during my family pictures. He and his mom, Ms. Marsha Magdalene, came out to my house so we could hang out to do this story.
Aniki is really nice. We played video games and had a dance contest to see who could do the Orange Justice the best. (We both agreed that I won!) Then he gave me some tips on how to be a good business person even when you are just a kid.
MSR: What inspired you to launch/start your business?
Aniki Allen: What inspired me was that I like fashion and now ties but that I could make money as well.
MSR: How does your business impact the community?
AA: There are three core values to my business: Creativity, entrepreneurship and philanthropy. I do workshops called “Yungpreneur Workshop with Aniki Allen.” It is only for kids ages 8-16. Kids are able to learn about my business and how they can use their own creativity to start a business of their own. I also donate a lot of my bow ties to charities for their fundraisers.
MSR: What is your business’ hero service or product?
AA: Grownups call me “The LEGO Bow Tie Kid.” My most requested bow tie is the Brick Bow Tie, and those are made out of LEGO pieces.
MSR: What has been your biggest challenge in owning a business?
AA: I’d like to just play video games all day, but I can’t waste my time like that. It’s hard to balance my time having fun and having a business, but I have a responsibility to my customers. When people buy my bow ties, I have to fill their orders. Since I make them all myself, I have to do that before I can have any fun.
MSR: What has been the most rewarding part of owning your business?
AA: The most rewarding part of my business is meeting people. I like it when they tell me that they have heard of my story. More than anything, I love seeing people wearing my bow ties.
MSR: What’s your vision/goals for your business?
AA: I really want to develop a partnership with the Lego company. I use their products to make my bow ties, so I would like for them to work with me.
MSR: What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
AA: The only tip I have is to never give up!
Aniki’s Ice Cream Bow Ties is offering MSR readers $5 off the purchase of a Brick Bow Tie. Just go the website www.icecreambowties.com and use code MSR. Aniki’s will be on display as part of #iamGREATNESS Kids Fashion Show on Saturday, Nov. 24 from 4 – 6 pm at Indigenous Roots Cultural Art, located at 788 East 7th Street in St. Paul.