She’s five years old, and she’s the Bawse. She’s also the youngest CEO to ever sell her products on the shelves at retail giant Target.
Of course, Lily Adeleye does have one big advantage over most kids her age: Her mom, Courtney Adeleye, is a highly successful entrepreneur herself, so Lily learned from the best.
As Black Enterprise reports, Lily is the mini-sized fashion maven behind Lily Frilly, a purveyor of accessories such as hair bows, tote bags, backpacks and lunch boxes for children. Her mom, meanwhile, is founder and CEO of The Mane Choice, a dominant force in the black haircare industry. A social entrepreneur, Courtney Adeleye has dedicated herself to helping other black businesswomen live out their entrepreneurial dreams and take control of their finances. To the tune of $30 million, she partnered with MAV Beauty Brands to launch the Generational Advantage Fund, which provides support for aspiring female entrepreneurs in financial literacy, capital, mentorship, resources and support, scholarships and housing.
Lily isn’t Courtney Adeleye’s first success story, but she might be the cutest. More importantly, she’s also got a head for business, her mom said. “From the time Lily was three, I knew then she had a business mindset,” Courtney told Black Enterprise. “At an early age, as she watched me build a successful business from the ground up, it exposed her to many possibilities and goals, so with that, we didn’t wait until she was an adult to help her pursue them.”
Lily makes it clear that she’s no figurehead. “I own my own company,” she asserted in the Black Enterprise interview. “I don’t just like it, I love it.”
She also serves as a positive role model for other children who aspire to do more than play video games on their tablets all day long. “We must instill strength, power, assertiveness, authority and confidence in our growing young ladies,” the Lily Frilly website states. “Lily Frilly not only teaches our children about who they are (beautiful young women who can do anything they put their minds to), but it reinforces this vision by layering on a positive initiative with books, clothing, toys, live empowering events, charity events and so much more.”
Lily Frilly’s online branding is characterized by bright hues, heavy on the pink and red, and lots of photos of children wearing Lily’s bows and other items. Throughout May 2020, the company also hosted a weekly $1,000 “cash giveback” promotion on Instagram. To win, customers had to buy at least one Lily Frilly bow at a Target store, email a copy of the receipt to the company and repost a flyer photo about the giveaway contest on their own Instagram page.
In an April 2020 promotion, Lily’s Instagram followers had a chance to win a vacation to Disney World.
“Many people don’t understand the importance of instilling ‘the NOW’ into children,” Courtney said in the Black Enterprise interview. “Not in all situations do you have to wait until you’re older to pursue your dreams. Lily Frilly believes that children have the ability to meet their full potential at an early age, and we hope people see our story as an inspiration to be innovative and step outside of the box.”