There's a quote that states, "Life doesn't come with a manual, it comes with a mother." Thankfully, for Jabez and Christopher Jenkins, their manual – or mother – found a creative way to keep their tiny toddler fingers safe around a sewing machine. And as a result, she turned them into successful business owners.
Queenie Jenkins worked in the fashion industry and in her spare time, made matching scarves and skirts on her sewing machine at home. But once she became a mother with two high-energy boys at her feet, her hobby became both difficult and dangerous.
"I was like 'Oh my gosh they won't stop touching the machine!'" Jenkins told Southern Living. "I had to find a way to keep them safe and still allow them to be around the machine." So, she turned the problem into a life lesson. With five-year-old Jabez safely on her lap pushing the buttons and three-year-old Christopher on the floor pushing the pedal, Jenkins taught her young boys how to use the sewing machine properly – and more importantly - safely. Christopher said he remembers what it felt like as a kid. "When you push the pedals, I don't know it's just like when you're driving a car. It's just fun!"
It wasn't long before the boys were picking out their favorite cartoon character fabrics, so they could sew their own pillows. When those fabrics ran out, Jenkins taught her sons how to cut the sleeves off of old T-shirts to make their pillows. As Jabez and Christopher grew older – and their pants grew shorter – their mom showed them how to cut and hem the pants into shorts for the summer months.
When Jabez was nine years old, his elementary school held a Career Day. Jabez put his sewing machine talents to work and made 30 bow ties and 30 hair bows to sell at the event. Within minutes, all of his items had sold out. His mom said this was a pivotal moment. "When he walked through the door, I don't even think he even said hello," Jenkins recalled. "He walked through the door, and he had his plan."
Jabez remembered telling his mom that day, "Mom, you know what? How about we just start a business and do what these people are asking us to do? Because we could make money off of this and be really successful!"
Turns out, Jabez was right. It's been six years since he and his brother Christopher launched Kings & Gents Accessories and they've been selling batches of bow ties by the dozen. Customers include friends, family and even some celebrities. In addition to making and selling their signature bow ties, the brothers have also written a book, appeared on their local news and created a YouTube channel to host webinars for other aspiring "kidpreneurs". Now a freshman in high school, Jabez said inspiring the next generation of business owners is an important part of their mission. "We just wanted to show younger kids how we got started, and how they can get started," said Jabez. "We're not different than any other kids."
Their mom, Queenie Jenkins, has plenty to be proud of this Mother's Day. Not only have her boys created a successful business from the ground up, but they've gained a lot of valuable life skills along the way. "They've learned tenacity, not to give up, to keep going no matter what. They learned to be more creative, and to be thinkers," said Jenkins. "They don't allow their fear to stop them. That makes me proud as a mom."