- Posted May 30, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Talented Teen Balloons into a CEO
With intense curiosity and a “desire to make money”, three-year-old Amber Liggett took matters into her own hands. From the grocery store buggy, she removed the lotion samples from the large bottles of lotion, and began asking passersby if they would buy the lotions so she could make money. And to her delight, she was successful! Since that day, Amber wanted to own her own business. Today, eighteen-year-old Amber J. Liggett is the CEO of Amber’s Amazing Animal Balloons (www.ambersballoons.com)!
As a young child, Amber was fascinated with balloons. At every festival we purchased her balloons. She quickly unfolded the entertainer balloon and twisted it into a different shape. Amber became so proficient with her skill that her grandparents, Herb & Joan Baugh, purchased her a balloon kit. We (Lamont & Marcia Liggett), her parents, told her if she memorized all of the shapes in the book and could make them without looking at the pictures, we would help her start her own business. She rose to the occasion, surpassing our desires. Soon thereafter, at the tender age of nine-years-old, Amber began her business, Amber’s Amazing Animal Balloons (www.ambersballoons.com). Armed with a hand-held balloon pump, a bag of entertainer balloons, a small list, and an enormous dream, Amber embarked upon an entrepreneurial journey. When we saw how well Amber interacted with the public and how quickly she improved as she created intricate balloon art, we knew this business could balloon into excellence. Therefore, we assisted her with purchasing more balloons, and taught her to invest a portion of her profit into her business. Amber caught on quickly, learned book keeping, marketing, and expanded her business to include additional services, including face painting, storytelling, and more!
In the beginning, however, things were challenging for Amber. When parents approached her booth for a balloon, they often addressed me (Marcia, the “momager” as Amber calls me), and thought it was my business. Others walked by the table and would comment as to it being impossible for a little girl to make balloon art. Lamont and I encouraged Amber to continue her business and prove to the world that she is an incredible balloon artist. Do to health challenges; I was not always able to help Amber with her balloons. She spent many hours practicing on her own and making new creations, as she saved her profits to buy more balloons for her business. She persistently distributed business cards and began getting bookings for more parties and events.
Amber’s hard work paid off as her success led to many life changing opportunities for the ambitious artist. Since 2009, she instructed at CCBC’s summer autism camp (and independent general classes) helping youth with autism by sharing balloon, musical, and entrepreneurial talents. Honors that Amber received include: (2009) Girls Going Places; (2010) E-Youth’s Emerging Entrepreneur; (2011) George W. Tippins Business Plan Winner, Global Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Ernst & Young’s Young Entrepreneur, the First recipient of the Beaver County Foundation Youth Entrepreneurial Spirit Award; (2012) Beaver County Rising Star Award Winner, Black Enterprise Magazine’s Teenpreneur of the Year (top teen entrepreneur in the nation), SHYNE Entrepreneurship Award; (2013) The Root’s 2013 Young futurist (recognized as a top 25 young innovator in the US by The Washington Post). Last fall Amber received an honor from the Josh Gibson Foundation for her outstanding contributions to the community in the field of business. On November 9, 2013, Amber received an honor at the Steels Brother’s Classic Event. She was awarded “The Promise Award: Youth Achievement Award”, which recognizes a high school student who has demonstrated achievements in the areas of the arts/academics, and serves as a model of promise for a brighter future.
Wanting to inspire others, Amber speaks to youth and fellow entrepreneurs locally and nationally, encouraging all to follow their dreams. In 2009 she was a featured youth presenter at the 29th Annual Entrepreneurship Education Forum sponsored by the Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education, providing insight into ways to generate interest in entrepreneurship within the classrooms across the United States, and the world. She serves on PA Senator Elder Vogel Jr.’s Business Advisory Board and mentors youth, including her twelve-year-old brother Rob, CEO of Rob’s Remarkable Photography. Her talents have led to many incredible opportunities for her to share her art, such as being featured on the PBS TV show, BizKid$ (http://youtu.be/2FEulSB4wWg) and on (PBS) WQED’s Pittsburgh 360 (http://www.wqed.org/tv/watch/?id=801&page=0). A featured artist at the First Night Pittsburgh New Year’s celebration, Pittsburgh Art’s Festival, and numerous local community fairs and events around the country, she creates corporate decorations and gifts, entertains at birthday parties, weddings and a host of other events.
Coupling her love for meteorology with her ballooning skills, Amber was the youngest and only teen business owner and exhibitor at the Annual AMS National WeatherFest in Atlanta, GA. She also shared her knowledge at the National Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC, as she partnered with Howard University and How The Weather Works to educate attendees about the importance of balloons to predicting the weather. She explained, “It makes me happy to see a smile on my customers’ faces and know that they will be learning about weather safety too!”
This fall Amber will pursue her love for meteorology and attend Millersville University Honors College. She will double major in Meteorology and Oceanography, with a minor in math. Additionally, Amber will maintain and expand her business.