Nothing small about teen entrepreneur Jerome Smalls
By Stefanie Bainumsbainum@abcnews4.com
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- It's rare for many 14-year-olds to get their own day. Exactly one year ago, Mayor Keith Summey of North Charleston proclaimed July 28th as Jerome Smalls Day.
For Jerome Smalls it all started with a ladder, a lawn mower, a tool set and growing up under the care of his grandfather, who worked as a carpenter.
"My grandfather owned his own construction business, and that really gave me that business mentality. You could say since the age of three I was at work sites. I may have not been the best help, but I was there," teen entrepreneur Jerome Smalls said.
By age 14, Smalls said with fate and faith he ended up at a Zucker Middle School business summer camp and came up with the idea for HandyKid -- a small business that does handy work and makes repairs.
"My grandfather always taught me the value of a dollar and what working hard for a dollar really is and what it should really mean," Smalls said.
With the success of HandyKid, Smalls was named South Carolina's entrepreneur of the year.
From there, things skyrocketed. Smalls began making media headlines and trips to New York and Salt Lake City to represent the state as a young businessman.
"I never in my wildest dreams thought that going to that small business camp, hosted by YESCarolina, would lead to that and this and to what I am now."
What he is now is an inspiration to his family, friends and community. Smalls said growing up with his grandparents in hard times, defying all the odds is what motivates him most.
"My life really hasn't been the greatest, and my life is to do better for myself and to be something successful," Smalls said.
A sophomore at West Ashley High School, Smalls said HandyKid is being put on hold for his next business venture -- a website design company founded by him and two friends he met in math class. But, Smalls says getting into college is his first priority and gives advice to other kids in school.
"Honestly, just not worry about what others say, because those people are not going to matter much to you when you become who you want to be," he said.