Isabella Barrett is an American born actress who got her start at age 5 in reality TV. From a breakout starring role on the hit TV show Toddlers & Tiaras to NBC’s Bravo Game of Crowns to her own series in Germany called Beauty Queens, Isabella was able to navigate a successful reality TV/business model with product brands that made her a millionaire at just 6-years-old.
In 2012, Isabella was named one of the youngest self-made millionaires in the United States after developing several business ventures around her initial TV success.
Isabella took a break from the TV world at the age of 9 and spent her tween years becoming a successful model and actress for many ad campaigns and TV commercials including Toys R US, Bergdorf Goodman, and American Girl. Ultimately, Isabella’s business ventures became her passion as she returned to TV in a documentary series, Get Made Global, which helped other kids start companies.
Isabella also appeared on Kid Entrepreneurs, How Did You Get So Rich, and Teens Who Made Millions. Isabella is heavily involved in the Young Entrepreneur Conventions and speaks at their annual event.
In 2019, Isabella came back to the public eye as a beauty influencer and actress. She currently appears in a national Walmart commercial, a series called Billionaire Babies, and as an ambassador for many top brands.
She has a fast-growing YouTube channel with 18k followers and 3.4 million views. Aside from her latest successful teen business suit line, House of Barretti, Isabella is currently writing a teen guide to business book and is involved in a business mini-series.
StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Isabella to discuss her journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down:
Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?
My journey with business started while I was on TV. The formula was simple, being on a TV show means you have access / free advertising to millions of kids who are watching your show. By creating a meaningful product I was able to offer my first brand “wear your wins” accomplishment bracelets to all kids in every sport or activity. I think the brand was so successful because anyone could wear it.
2. Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?
Most of my journey was based around having fun, creating, and designing – it never really seemed like a job. I think the most valuable concepts I learned were asking myself these 3 questions.
A) Who is your target buyer? ( that means age and interest)
B) Is your product an essential or a necessity? ( Is your product just for fun like jewelry or cosmetics or is it something people need like clothing, food, etc)
C) How will people find out about your product? (This means will you build a website or sell at events or attend trade shows and try to get it into stores.
3. What is your main source of income?
My clothing brands Bound by The Crown Couture and House of Barretti. This year right before the quarantine we did New York fashion week it was our biggest season to date and we had a billboard in Times Square.
4. What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?
My business model has changed a lot since quarantine as most of our sales were done in showrooms, buying events such as ENK or Apparel Las Vegas, showing my brands at fashion shows during NY and LA Fashion Week fashion shows. Since these all meant being in large crowds which have now changed, we are working towards virtual online showrooms, virtual runway shows and product placement on celebrities like tick-tockers and Youtubers.
5. What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?
I use Instagram and YouTube the most to showcase my brands. I use Instagram mostly to show and talk about my products. I also do product giveaways. YouTube is a great platform to have more detailed examples of how your product is made showing the products on the runway and also high-end clients wearing the product.
6. What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?
I have a lot of experience with paid advertising. I got the word out there for my products because of paid advertising. More importantly, having a great sponsor or celebrity/Influencer backing you up will get more attention to your product. Overall, I 100% agree that content ad campaigns work.
7. What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?
First, I say talk to everyone, because anyone is a potential client. I added my photo on my business cards because I feel that it helps people remember meeting me and if I made a good impression on them then at least when they get home, maybe they’ll go and visit my website. If you’re in business you know you get a lot of backstock, donate It! I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve gotten from having gift giveaways at certain charity and function events because your product sits on a table all night long to be bid on and if the packaging is good they’ll most probably go look and see what else you sell. And finally, something I’m doing this year is putting my logo on cars since people are going to be more cautious about interacting so they will be in their vehicles more.
8. What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?
Marketing has certainly changed. It was a lot easier to market my products when I was on a current TV show because we had a constant daily draw. Now it’s my grassroots promotion, but I feel so blessed I have that initial pop off to help pique interest.
9. How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?
QUALITY, As a kid who likes nice things I would not want to put my name on anything that wasn’t branded luxury. It’s super important that people trust in you. They will buy your product knowing it’s going to be high quality or brand level. My mom has definitely helped me achieve that goal and our brands are known for there luxury fabrics and trims.
10. What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
The past few months have been life-changing for all teens in so many ways. I have to let go of the fact that I wouldn’t be going to school every day and seeing my friends. I have to connect with people without seeing them. And I definitely have to up my motivation game because being stuck in one spot can be……well..not so motivating.
11. What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?
I’m not really allowed to control my own money yet so I haven’t made big mistakes but I did have to learn how a business works. For instance, if you have $50,000 in your business bank account that doesn’t mean that you have $50,000 to spend. You must pull a paycheck from your business, and you cannot write off a jet ski purchase if you sell clothing (laughs). So you have to take your paycheck put it in the bank and save each week until you have enough money to buy what you want. When a business gets big enough there are also shares of the company that you can own. Those are really not tangible until a sale of the business is made, it’s more like an investment.
12. What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?
Hard work pays off! it’s my number one saying! what works the most is good old fashion hard work and sticking to it every day. People tend to forget that the businesses that are super big right now, like Jeffree Star cosmetics, started off small. Jeffree on YouTube in 2006 and didn’t get super famous till 3 years ago he also stated that it took 4 years for the cosmetics line to take off. It took 13 years of making himself popular and relevant on YouTube and 4 years of running a business in hopes it would take off. My point is long term planning is the key to building an empire.
13. What new business would you love to start?
I’ve been working on a skincare line for a while now under the House of Barretti. When I was a tween I had awful skin and nothing worked till I found Açaí berries, vitamins in green tea leaves. I’m developing something amazing I think all ages will love … stay tuned.
14. If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
If I could go back in time I would’ve saved every business card and every contact I ever met especially when I was in LA and New York. Who you know is just as important as what you know.
15. If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were first making a name for yourself, what advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself not to take haters too seriously, anyone can write a comment online it’s the most immature thing.
16. Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?
This is a great question! As I was learning more about the business I really couldn’t find any books that related just to teens starting their own business so I decided to write my own. This Summer I am releasing my first book “Teens guide to Business“ which goes over an easy step by step process on how Kids and Teens can start their own businesses. In the meantime, I highly recommend googling “Teen Business” there are a lot of great video tutorials on the subject.
A team is good for business because as I was researching books out there, there was a lot of know-how but they very confusing so I’ve stripped it down into simple steps on how anyone can start a business.
17. What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Be authentic, be yourself, be you! It’s classic but true!
18. What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
My advice is to make sure you set up your business correctly with a business plan first registering your business and making sure you’ve thought ahead to how you are going to promote your business. Everyone will tell you from business to music. Making music is the easy part Most artists spend 20% of their time on their music and 80% of the time trying to get it out there and market themselves. It’s the same with the products. You spend a lot less time making your products then you do actually trying to market and sell it so be ready for that.