“Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.” (Charles R. Swindoll) Since the beginning of time, people have faced obstacles, experienced setbacks, and have been challenged to overcome and push forward. What happens next, however, is a result of attitude and mindset. At the ages of nine and 11, brothers Joshua and Jordan Liburd had experienced years of feeling left out of countless elementary activities and recognitions due to the more than 20 combined food allergies between them. What takes many adults decades to figure out, these young optimists resolved in a short time to make these experiences their message as they turned the spotlight onto food allergy awareness. In 2019, Joshua and Jordan launched JL Fun Colorz, a custom crayon business that offers allergy friendly products that all children can safely enjoy.
Today, at 12 and 14, Jordan and Joshua are still mission-driven young entrepreneurs that have expanded their brand to include public speaking and philanthropic giving. Their experiences today inspire the next generation to be the very best versions of themselves while taking care of one another…a proactive mindset we could all adopt for the next time life happens.
JT: Tell us how JL Fun Colorz started. What motivated you to turn your personal experience into a business?
Joshua: Many times in school my teachers would hand out candy or cupcakes as rewards, but I was not able to eat them because of my food allergies. This often made me feel left out and sad. I am allergic to over 20 different foods and my brother is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. My brother and I wanted to make non-food, allergy friendly products that all kids could safely enjoy. We wanted to make products that could replace those treats and rewards that teachers often give out as incentives in classrooms so that no kid ever has to feel left out like we did.
JT: What allergy friendly products do you make, and why did you choose to customize crayons?
Jordan: Since my brother and I have always loved being creative and artistic, we came up with the idea to make custom crayons. We hand make crayons in fun shapes and sizes that make coloring more fun. For example, we make crayons that are shaped like unicorns, dinosaurs, cars, etc. that kids can both play and color with. So instead of bringing in chocolate hearts to school for Valentine’s Day, kids can bring in our colorful heart shaped crayons.
JT: It is my understanding that you donate custom crayons to nonprofit organizations. How do you choose the groups that you support?
Jordan: When we choose the groups that we support, we select organizations that we can directly relate to. Mainly those that help children and those that support food allergy awareness and education such as the Elijah-Alavi Foundation. We have donated our crayons to kids in shelters and foster homes because we want to help children who are not as fortunate as us. We are thankful that our crayons can be used to bring joy to them.
JT: Something I’ve seen you both do- that blows me away- is public-speaking. Please share more about that! How do you prepare to stand in front of an audience to speak, and what is your message?
Jordan & Joshua: When we are asked to speak at events, we make sure we practice a lot so that we can have the best version of our presentation and our message is clear and well received. Since we are passionate about what we speak about, it makes it less challenging to speak in front of an audience. One of our messages is that if you want to start your own business, no matter what age you are you can be successful if you are doing something that you love. Our other message is to be mindful of kids with food allergies so that they do not feel left out like we did and sometimes still do.
JT: How are you involved with Mahogany Kids? Can you tell us more about that organization and what it means to you?
Jordan: The Mahogany Kids Fine Arts Foundation supports minority youth in the Tampa Bay area by introducing them to various forms of the arts including music, art and dance. This allows them to express themselves through the arts and encourages creativity which helps with self-esteem and leadership skills. We recently were guest speakers at their Kids Vision Board Party and shared our story with the kids in attendance and encouraged them to also start their own businesses. Being able to speak to and inspire a group of kids that we can relate to makes us feel so important because we are making our own moments in Tampa history and beyond.
JT: Do you feel like other kids can relate to or appreciate what you’re both doing as young, mission-driven entrepreneurs? Have any of your friends ever helped with any of your efforts?
Joshua: Honestly, I do not think that all kids can relate to having a business at such young ages because it is not common for kids to have their own businesses. However, my friends and classmates that know about my business think that it is amazing and some of them have shown interest in starting their own businesses and have even asked me for tips on how to get started. Our friends help us by showing support on social media, and my best friend offers to help when we get a lot of orders.
JT: How can families in Tampa Bay support your business?
Joshua: If you would like to support our business you can follow us on Instagram or Facebook and share our business with your friends and family. You can also purchase crayons or contact us through our website: www.jlfuncolorz.com.
JT: What are your goals for JL Fun Colorz in 2022?
Jordan: Our goals for this year are to speak at more events so that we can both inspire children to become kidpreneurs, and to continue our efforts in advocating for children with food allergies. Since 1 in 13 children in the United States have food allergies, it is so important that people are educated about the dangers of food allergies. We also want to be able to donate more crayons to organizations that serve children and to continue to donate a portion of all proceeds to the Elijah-Alavi Foundation.
Originally Published in March 2022 | photo credit: KB Live Photography LLC