“Once people tune into my business, they will want to support and engage with everything Pretty and Plus is doing.” – Kendra Collay (Be Your Own Boss Summer 2020 Intern)
Kendra Collay is a high school junior that lives in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. This past summer, Kendra participated in the Future Founders Be Your Own Boss (BYOB) program, a paid virtual internship that teaches students how to create and pitch their own business idea, while connecting them with established entrepreneurs from Chicago and beyond.
The logo for her Kendra’s business, Pretty and Plus
“She’d been hustling even before the program,” said Jane Castro, Program Manager for BYOB. Just over a year ago, Kendra started her own body positivity and women empowerment brand, Pretty and Plus. And using her newfound confidence and communication skills after her time in the BYOB program, Kendra is excited to continue building her network to empower young ladies to be the best version of themselves.
Like any high school student these days, Kendra can be found across a wide array of social media platforms. But for Kendra, she sees social media as more than just a means for entertainment. Following different influencers, personalities, and models such as Ashley Graham, Kendra uses social media as a source of inspiration and creativity. Looking up to creators who promote body positivity, Kendra always wanted to do the same. And after learning about the BYOB program through her school, she knew the internship would be the perfect way to channel this creativity and desire to make a difference through positivity.
With COVID-19 bringing school programs online across the globe, Kendra wasn’t too worried about participating in a virtual version of BYOB. In fact, she claims that the virtual environment pushed her out of her shell, and helped her engage with interns from other schools. “She was an outgoing participant that was always on camera and speaking up,” said Castro.
“I didn’t know if I would like it at first because we couldn’t pick our own groups, but it was easy to start a conversation with the [students from other schools] and work well with them.” – Kendra Collay
After two weeks of focused experiential learning, the BYOB internship culminated with a pitch competition where teams of interns presented their business ideas to founders, investors, and partners in the Future Founders network. Staying true to her fascination with social media, Kendra and her team pitched an idea for a platform to host conversations pertaining to the social justice issues that came to light during the summer of the pandemic.
As high school students, Kendra and her team recognized the power that young voices hold, and decided to combine that power with the popularity of social media to create their platform. Per their pitch, the app would provide people with discussion boards, emergency resources, inspirational content, and a network of forward-thinking individuals.
Usually, a business focuses on empathizing with customers, but for Kendra and her team, they wanted to build a platform where people can empathize with each other. At the same time they chose to create a virtual platform to keep people safe and socially distanced during the COVID-19 pandemic. By identifying the many needs and challenges people were facing between both the pandemic and the political environment of 2020, they created a safe and progressive platform.
Reflecting on the pitch competition and the program, Kendra couldn’t choose a favorite moment or activity. “I was excited about coming up with the idea, planning the business, and doing the pitch,” she said. “So I guess I was excited by everything because it all came together very well in the end.” Kendra also appreciated the constructive criticism that her team received from the mentors and program heads because it pushed them to re-evaluate their business.
With the BYOB program behind her, Kendra has redirected her focus back to her own business, Pretty and Plus.
Pretty and Plus was first designed to help plus-size girls with their confidence. But taking what she learned as part of BYOB, Kendra has since pivoted the business to focus more on embracing all body sizes and empowering young women. Covering topics such as confidence, mental health, and body shaming, Pretty and Plus provides young women with workshops, resources, and content to promote self growth.
A quote from Pretty and Plus’ Instagram
Kendra’s online presence spans across multiple social media platforms. On her YouTube channel, she uploads tips, Q&A’s, and motivational videos. On her Instagram and Facebook pages, she posts daily quotes, as she believes “…a quote can go a long way for someone.” She also has a private network of young women that meet and communicate regularly to support each other, share resources, and build confidence together. Fellow BYOB intern, Kennedi Hood, is an active member of Kendra’s Pretty and Plus network.
Since the BYOB program, Kendra has focused on posting consistent content and communicating more with her followers. Immersing herself in Customer Discovery, Kendra’s found that listening to her “customers” is the best way to address their wants and needs. During the BYOB program, Future Founders also invites established entrepreneurs to share their business experience with the students. Kendra noted Ardent Candle founder, Future Founders Bootcamper, and fellow YouTuber Koby Lomax as a memorable guest. With the two sharing a passion for empowerment (Koby focusing on men with curly hair), it pushed Kendra to work even harder on establishing her own brand’s image.
Thumbnail from Koby Lomax’s YouTube channel
Looking forward, Kendra is hoping to create consistent and quality content for Pretty and Plus throughout 2021. She also hopes to one day open her own counseling business where she can work in person with young women to help build their self confidence and promote body positivity.
The Future Founders team is so excited to see Kendra and all of the BYOB interns follow their passion and make positive change in the world! To learn more about the Be Your Own Boss program, check out the program page here and join the waitlist to be the first to know when future internships open up!
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