AnaLeigh Brooks, 9
AnaLeigh Brooks, a fourth grader at State Road Elementary in Fenton, is a budding young local entrepreneur with her own T-shirt design company, FriendLeigh Designs. “I custom print shirts for businesses, family reunions, any custom order that’s more than one or two shirts,” AnaLeigh said. She got start-up money for her business from family and friends who believed in her business goals. She was also the keynote speaker at the first Shark Tank event at The Freedom Center in Fenton when she was just 7 years old.
AnaLeigh makes her designs on the computer with a CAD program, taking inspiration from music, school, the Bible, movies, videos and pictures. She and her parents, Aaron and Sonja Brooks of Fenton Township, rent space at Factory Two in Flint where they make screens, then screen print the shirts. Then she tags the shirts and delivers or mails them to her customers. She donates 10 percent to a deserving non-profit from shirt sales, and reinvests the remaining money into her business. “Most of my customers find me on Facebook and Instagram,” she said. AnaLeigh has several new designs, which will be released soon and printed in August.
Meara Miller, 21
Meara Anne Fashions/Buzzforward Media
Meara Miller, 21, has made a name for herself locally through her textiles and clothing company, Meara Anne Fashions. She started her company when she was 20, with the goal of providing customers with ethically made clothing, to help eliminate mass production sweatshops that supply most retailers. Now she is moving into another entrepreneurial direction, opening a social media marketing company, Buzzforward Media, with her fiancé, Josh Mundy, also 21.
“My dad’s a graphic designer and produces artwork on the side,” she said. “My mom went to school for fashion design and taught me how to sew. I got the fashion for marketing when I worked for a local orthodontist. I have a passion to help other businesses succeed.” Like many young Millennials, Miller and Novak work out of coffee shops on their computers rather than a formal office space. When working on clothing and textiles, they produce the items in a studio at her parents’ home, Robert and Heather Miller.