Playground to boardroom: This mom is creating generational wealth for her 12-year-old CEO

MelanBrand Skin founder Patrice Chappelle is changing the narrative around generational wealth by making her son, Bron Echols, a CEO at just 12 years old. 

In a world where corner offices are typically reserved for seasoned executives in power suits, one mother is shattering conventional norms by paving an audacious path toward generational wealth for her son. Meet Patrice Chappelle, the trailblazing mom who’s rewriting the playbook of entrepreneurship by handing her 12-year-old child the reins of an entire company. 

Black Business Month, young entrepreneur, Black-owned skincare brands, Skincare for kids, MelanBrand Skin, 12-year old CEO
Patrice Chappelle (left) and her son, Bron Echols, are co-founders of MelanBrand Skin, whose products for kids are seen at right. (Photos courtesy of MelanBrand Skin)

Chappelle and her son, Bron Echols, are co-founders of MelanBrand Skin, a skincare brand designed specifically for melanated skin of all ages. While the brand creates products for both mature and younger users, Chappelle says that the idea was inspired by the difficulty she experienced trying to find skincare products for her son when the traditional bar soap, water and lotion combination stopped working. 

“When he was younger, we just had a hard time finding products that were for Black and brown kids and just kids in general for their skincare,” Chappelle told theGrio, explaining how she was forced to use her adult skincare products on her son when other products failed to work. “I was like, ‘This is just not right; we need something that is for children — and especially for children with melanated skin.’ So that’s how MelanBrand Skin came about.” 

Fast forward to Bron’s 12th birthday; instead of spending money on a party, Chappelle gifted the birthday boy $1,200 to start a business. After learning the importance of leaving a legacy, Bron excitedly stepped into his role as the official co-founder and CEO of the company. 

Although Bron is only 12, the young CEO is already very hands-on. From helping process orders to posting on the brand’s social media channels, Chappelle offers her son what she describes as a “360-degree view” of the company, gradually increasing his exposure and involvement in MelanBrand Skin’s business operations. 

“Right now, we’re taking baby steps because he’s 12, and so trying to get him to understand the fundamentals of running a business and just the day-to-day operations,” Chappelle explained. “ As he gets older and progresses through the process of understanding how we run and operate MelanBrand Skin, it can be something [he does] when he’s of college age or getting ready to go into college and graduate [high school].” 

Although MelanBrand Skin is Chappelle’s first business venture, she’s no stranger to the entrepreneurial lifestyle. Her parents each ran small businesses when she was a child, but neither exposed her to the possibility of pursuing her own entrepreneurial career. It was not until she was laid off from her role as an IT federal contractor that Chappelle explored her passion for skincare and curiosity about running her own business. The mother and co-founder created MelanBrand Skin for her son to build generational wealth and give him options as he gets older.

“Whether he decides to [go to college] or not,” she added. “He will be able to understand the full process of running a business.” 

Thanks to his mom’s decision to officially list him as co-founder and CEO, Bron joins the likes of celebrity offspring, child actors, models and influencers, building wealth and professional portfolios at a young age. Celebrities like DJ Khaled and power couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z have created similar opportunities for their children, Asahd Tuck Khaled, who is 5, and Blue Ivy Carter, age 11. From Blue Ivy’s dance appearances on the Renaissance World Tour to features on her parents’ albums, Beyoncé and Jay-Z began building generational wealth for their firstborn daughter early on by officially crediting and commissioning her for all her creative appearances. Similarly, DJ Khaled listed his son as an executive producer on his album “Father of Asahd,” which received a Grammy Award in 2020. 

According to Haley Sacks (@mrsdowjones), children can grow tax-free wealth by working in their parents’ businesses and earning a taxable income. The financial expert shares that opening, funding, and investing in a custodial Roth IRA account can allow children to save money and make dividends through compounding interest. 

“I want to create generational wealth. So that way, if he decides to go to college, he can; if he doesn’t, he’ll have a company where he can just immediately take over,” Chappelle told theGrio. “[As] Black people, we should be teaching our children things outside of just school. It’s OK to go to college, but if your children don’t want to go, making sure that you support them for what they want to do and understanding what their gifts are and what their skill sets are [is equally important].” 

When building MelanBrand Skin, the mother and co-founder was very intentional about selecting a name that had the potential to become a household name. The brand launched in May 2023 and offers a wide range of products catering to various skin types. It is best known for its three-step MelanKids Starter Kit, which includes a cleanser, hydrating toner, and moisturizer made of clean natural ingredients that are gentle and effective for young skin.    

“We believe that every child deserves to have healthy and nourished skin, and that’s what we aim to provide with our products. Our mission is to empower parents to take care of their children’s skin in a natural and safe way, help the parents empower their kids to do the same every day, and to empower Black and brown kids to feel confident in their skin,” said Chappelle in a press release shared with theGrio. 

The brand also offers handmade soaps, body butters, and a MelanMoisture collection with products that cater to skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Through their products, MelanBrand Skin hopes to change how parents traditionally teach their children to care for themselves by incorporating a simple yet effective skincare routine. 

As the family prepares for back-to-school season, they hope to find a balance between Bron’s life as a student and a CEO. But ultimately, Chappelle hopes for her “junior CEO” to grow alongside the company. 

“Within the next couple years, I want him to be that person that’s like, ‘No, Mom, as a junior CEO, I think we should go this route.’ And then that way, he’ll be able to start advocating for the brand and his position within the company,” said Chappelle. “[O]ur goal is to be in retailers and on shelves and things like that; as we grow and expand and scale, he can start speaking up in meetings for himself as co-founder and then being heard and respected at the same time.”

Haniyah Philogene is a multimedia storyteller and Lifestyle reporter covering all things culture. With a passion for digital media, she goes above and beyond to find new ways to tell and share stories.

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