Gabby Goodwin and her mother, Rozalynn, had a pesky problem: Even after careful styling, barrettes kept slipping out of the 5-year-old’s hair. Gabby hated losing bows, and her mom was tired of buying replacements. As Rozalynn shared her frustration with other parents on social media, the family’s pastor chimed in, suggesting that the Goodwins try creating their own barrettes.

Rozalynn dismissed the idea, but Gabby was intrigued.

“I was super excited,” said Gabby, now 14. “I was nagging my mom every single day about these barrettes.”

Gabby’s persistence persuaded her mother, and they began to tackle the problem.

“My mom really thought of it as a science project,” Gabby said.

First they examined Gabby’s hair bows to see why they were falling out. Then they came up with a design for a double-face, double-snap barrette that attaches securely to hair.

Coping with rejection

When the Goodwins first showed their design to potential business investors, it was rejected. The product wasn’t the right fit or the business plan wasn’t good, companies told them.

The setbacks made Gabby more determined.

“As I was able to go through those ‘no’s’ and go through those obstacles, I came up with a quote that says ‘No is just an abbreviation for next opportunity,’ ” she told KidsPost.

Gabby and her mother didn’t give up, and in 2014 they began selling the bows online. The barrettes were so popular that the Goodwins decided to pursue obtaining a patent, and the business flourished. Today Gabby is chief of Confidence by Gabby Goodwin, and the barrettes — called GaBBY Bows — are available online and in 74 Target stores across the country. Confidence also sells three plant-based products for detangling, moisturizing and styling hair.

In 2018, Black Enterprise selected Gabby as its Teenpreneur of the Year. The following year, Gabby and Rozalynn launched a virtual academy to help girls learn entrepreneurship (business) skills.

Video commercials

If you watch Gabby deliver a speech to a packed room of business executives or interact with supporters on a Facebook video, it’s hard to imagine the South Carolina eighth-grader as anything other than poised and confident. But learning to be the public face of her company was “really hard at first,” she said.

“I was very shy growing up, and I did not like talking to people that I didn’t know,” Gabby recalled. When filming the first commercial for her business, Gabby was so nervous in front of the camera that her mom had to take over and read the lines.

Over the years, with a lot of practice speaking to audiences, Gabby grew more comfortable in her role. She offers this advice to kids: “As you keep doing what you’re passionate about, then you’ll be able to grow in that confidence.”

Promoting hair care at home

Traveling to trade shows to promote the Confidence brand is a big part of the business. When the novel coronavirus began spreading in the United States, Gabby faced a series of canceled events.

“That was pretty hard for us,” she said. “That was most of our revenue.”

But Gabby found new ways to connect with customers. She noticed that as salons closed because of the pandemic, more people did their hair at home. In response, Confidence created a “Home Hair Care Bundle” with its three existing products. The goal is to support hair care at home and “remove stress from the hairstyling process,” Gabby said.

Gabby’s Facebook group, Girls Natural Hair Care and Confidence with GaBBY Goodwin, offers challenges, giveaways and weekly advice from a natural-hair specialist. Each day, Gabby appears on live video to discuss hair-care topics, such as wash-day hacks and detangling. “It’s just a really welcoming group where you can ask any questions,” she said.

Gabby encourages kids to consider getting into entrepreneurship because of the skills it helps develop.

“Even if you don’t work for yourself, you’re going to have to pitch yourself at job interviews,” she said. “And to learn that while in business is definitely very valuable.”