Tressed for Success


Complain all you want about the grueling hours involved in being an entrepreneur. But have you tried simultaneously running your business, singing in the choir, playing sports and learning the trombone and baritone sax? — all while making the elementary school honor roll?

Welcome to the world of Leanna Archer, a most unusual 12-year-old from Central Islip, N.Y. When she was just eight years old, Archer decided that she wanted to create a business selling the homemade “hair dressing” (passed down from her Haitian grandmother) that left her hair exceptionally shiny and soft. Friends and family loved the concoctions, Archer noticed; why wouldn’t there be a broader market for them?

After Archer spent a year bugging her parents about the idea (“they were convinced this was just some phase of mine that would pass”), they agreed to give it a try. Her dad and older brother, Giovhanny, created a website (leannashair.com) where customers could learn about and buy the hair dressing. At around the same time, Archer and her parents began visiting local beauty supply shops and salons, passing out free samples to further market her product.

Within a few months, Leanna’s Inc. was filling three to five orders a day; now, Archer says, that number is closer to 20. Sales for 2007 are expected to come in at around $80,000, and the product offerings have expanded to include the original hair dressing, a hair oil treatment, a shampoo and two conditioners.

Leanna’s Inc. has gotten everyone into the family business: Even Archer’s six-year-old brother, Christian, is involved in quality control. “He is in charge of making sure the labels are straight on the bottles, that we are wearing hair nets and aprons when we are making the recipes and packing them up — all that sort of stuff,” Archer explains.

So what’s a typical day in the life of this hardworking businesswoman? “I get up, go to school, come home, walk the dog, then check to see if we have any orders to fill. I then have to do my homework. After that, I take a 20-minute nap, then go into the basement to start packing up orders.” In spite of her intense workand school-filled daily schedule, Archer is not your typical sleepdeprived business owner: “Bedtime is at 8 p.m. — unless there is something special on television, in which case I can stay up until 9 o’clock.”