MONA TESSEMA | CREATOR & PRODUCER
First, I’d like to thank you for visiting our website! I hope you enjoy our content and find inspiration from the amazing young people we have featured.
Juniority is one of my many passion projects and the idea for this brand came to me in 2011 but I didn’t start it until September of 2016. Since I started, it has gone through a genesis over the last two years and continues to morph into something spectacular!
There are many reasons why I chose to focus on young people and here is why. In 2016 when I decided to quit my job and work on this project, I thought to myself, I first needed to figure out my why? Why was this idea so important and why would it be something of value to others? I was in Venice Beach with my friend when I got my answer. We were walking down the storefronts that line Venice Beach and all the creative vendors when I walked up to a man etching quotes on small square wooden pieces. One of them read, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men” – Frederick Douglass and there was my answer, my why!
Why is this my “why”? Because one of the common characteristics I have noticed among young people is that it is easy for them to follow their bliss. They naturally gravitate towards the things in life that make them happy and choose to spend time doing just that. With a little dedication and encouragement from their families, young people are clearly demonstrating that turning the things you love into a business or a nonprofit organization is a sure way to win! After all, we have all at some point or another been advised, “do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.” However, doing what they love is not the only thing these young entrepreneurs have going for them. Having come across some of the most confident and self realized young individuals, it is clear to see the self-assurance they cultivated over the years of running their business.
Young people have a lot of qualities ideal for being an entrepreneur, one of them is their ability to transmute a challenging experience into something productive. Whether it’s 9 year old Zandra Cunningham from Buffalo, New York whose dad refused to buy her a chapstick or 8 year old Isabella Dymalovski from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia whose mom refused to let her use adult makeup remover, both these ladies managed to turn “No” into a massive multi-million dollar skin care line. How? They did it by being fearless. Not having bills or family responsibilities to worry about definitely helps but I believe the unique advantage young people have is that they don’t know that they can’t. They don’t know that they can’t do the things they set out to do, so they do them! For these young kids, the only challenge to solve is the one right in front of them and when you don’t have preconceived ideas of where you are headed, the possibilities are infinite!
Another thing that I admire and love about young entrepreneurs is their kindness. They care and they give back! Giving back is almost synonymous with all youth owned businesses and that to me is something we should all exalt. When young individuals stand for something they believe in, not only do they inspire their peers but they have the ability to make adults believe yet again in all of the ideas they too once believed in as young people. To me, this is a magnificent way to building strong children and a stronger future.
We recently interviewed viral runway sensation Celai West and her mom articulated my feelings and beliefs in such a profound way that it brought me to tears. Here is what Linda Ligons-West said…“I feel like everybody has a gift that they have been given, depending on what their personal religious beliefs are by god, by a bigger force in the universe, they have all been gifted something. There is a talent that they have been given and I feel like when children are young you could see traces of what those gifts maybe because that is the age they are fearless…as we grow older we learn to be scared, we learn to avoid rejection and its more difficult for us to decipher what those gifts are but I think that if you are really intuitive as a parent you can look at your children and say wow they are gifted in this one area and if you can help them identify what those gifts are and help nurture them, then this is absolutely what the product is. But then I think the flip side to that is once you identified what their gifts are, you have to show them how they can use it not only to benefit themselves but to benefit the world”
I have always known deep down in my heart, why I started this brand but to find someone say it so succinctly truly brings joy to my heart. In addition to the sentiments expressed above, another one that hits home with me is the following excerpt from Kahlil Gibran’s book The Prophet. These words ring true to my core everyday I come across young people in whom I see so much magic.
The Prophet on Children
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
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In closing, I believe that all of us come into this world to be of service and advance the divine purpose of this universe. I am not saying that young people don’t need guidance to navigate this world but they have unique ideas and thoughts of their own that we need to cultivate responsibly. Most adults, we have gone astray far from who we were meant to be and until some tragic event occurs in our lives that makes us stop and contemplate the direction of our lives, we continue to ignore that voice within us. That childlike voice that believes practically anything in this world is possible. That voice that has been nagging us to go this way or that way and we are just too scared to follow. Young people don’t have that problem and that is why I believe our brand is so crucial, we are here to preserve the spirit of young people who still believe and will accomplish everything we have failed to accomplish. Let us not teach them our limitations! They believe and they don’t know that they can’t…so let’s let them!