You’re never too young to start a business. Take it from Condoleezza Semien, a 16-year-old entrepreneur who started her business, Beluga Bliss, when she was in the eighth grade.
Semien’s mother battles lupus and struggles with aches from the chronic condition. Determined to soothe her mother’s pain, at the age of 13, Semiens started researching which essential oils and herbs had the scientific components to treat her mother’s symptoms.
Soon, she was blending her own essential oils, naming them based on the blend’s intentions and sharing them with her family. She now sells her products under the brand name Beluga Bliss on her website and at Zen-Jus, a wellness shop in Zachary.
Since using the brand’s oils, her mother has been able to take less pain medicine and feel natural relief.
“My mother introduced me to essential oils,” Semien says. “I wanted to make certified organic oils with no fragrance or harmful ingredients. My mom needed an alternative medicine that didn’t include opioids, so I created three different oil blends.”
The trio includes Awareness, Deep Sleep and Pain Relief blends. Awareness features peppermint, citrus and other essential oils to provide stress relief. Deep Sleep includes lavender, lemongrass and other essential oils to promote rest. Pain Relief is made from oregano, eucalyptus and other essential oils to naturally ease pain. The oils are sold as roll-ons to apply to the skin or in droppers to add to diffusers, baths or pillows.
Semiens also sells pillow packs, which include a stuffed, galaxy-patterned pillow and two essential oil blends to pair with it. Customers can drop essential oils into the pillow stuffing and inhale the scents as they rest. The pillows were designed to promote relaxation and help the user to breathe and sleep easily. Semien created the product when her mother was hospitalized for her condition and added them to her shop once she saw how comforting they were, especially for people with chronic illnesses.
Since launching her business, the Baton Rouge native has been recognized around the nation. She pitched her business at the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Investor Panel Presentation in 2019, where she won the Saunders Semifinalist award. She then moved forward to the Young Entrepreneur Academy’s Saunders Scholarship Competition in New York, where she won the People’s Choice Award.
As the multitalented high school student makes plans for her future, she wants to continue expanding her business, hold pop-up events and eventually open her own storefront. She is considering becoming a U.S. history teacher or studying plant and soil science. Her next step is to become a certified aromatherapist and licensed herbalist—on top of balancing school, dance, theater and community service work as the president of the Outstanding Mature Girlz organization
“My advice to the youth who want to start a business is to start a business with a purpose in mind that is not money,” Semien says. “Money will come, but the purpose behind your business will bring out ambitions and will remind you why you started (it).”
This article was originally published in the April 2022 issue of 225 magazine.