An 8-year-old from the Harbison area experienced the thrill of national attention Friday and a dose of adult reality in the competitive world of being an entrepreneur.
Gabrielle Goodwin and the hair barrettes she and her mother, Rozalynn Goodwin, make and sell did not quite break into the Top 3 among 14 finalists in the Small Business Association’s National Small Business event in the nation’s capital, the second-grader’s mom said by telephone.
Gabrielle was the only child in the competition and her mother had to make the sales pitch to judges because rules require the pitch person to be at least 18, Rozalynn Goodwin said.
“It’s hard for an 8-year-old,” she said shortly after the competition at the Washington Post building where her daughter was photographed and interviewed as part of the event. “It was difficult for her to swallow. But she’s OK now.”
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“I feel sad because we didn’t win the money,” Gabrielle said of the $30,000 shared by the three selectees. Then her perseverance showed through. “I’m not going to give up. I’m coming back to Columbia tonight and go to the Black Expo (Saturday).”
The second-grader got a view of the White House during her short stay in Washington and spoke to The State from the International Spy Museum, a place she chose from among all the city’s tourist attractions. She also got to play with a cousin who lives in the D.C. area.
“I couldn’t get to sleep because I was so excited,” the Harbison West Elementary School student said of the night before the competition. “Yes, I was tired this morning.”
Her mother, a 37-year-old lobbyist for the S.C. Hospital Association, called the experience “a valuable life lesson. This is part of being an entrepreneur. There are lots of ‘nos’ before you get a ‘yes.’ ”
But customers of the hair barrettes have said yes about 3,400 times, Rozalynn Goodwin said. That’s how many $3.50 to $4.99 sets sold so far at selected Bi-Lo and Walgreens stores and on the Internet.
When Gabrielle isn’t pitching her GaBBY Bows or sharing her experiences with other children, she loves to play with her little brother Michael, 4. She also reads and goes to ballet and tap classes, her mother said.
“She’s a normal kid,” Goodwin said. “She just works hard on weekends.”