VALDOSTA – It isn’t hard to imagine most high school students spending the summer before their senior year reluctantly putting in hours at a summer job, hanging out with friends and stressing about impending adulthood. But at least one upcoming Valdosta senior has another thing on her mind: business.
Jakayla Pigford is a dual-enrolled student at Valdosta High School and Georgia Military College. When she graduates next year, she will walk across two stages: one to receive her high school diploma and the other to receive an associate’s degree.
“Outside of school, I don’t do much. I just stay at home and study. I make straight A’s, thank God. I pray about my grades,” Pigford said.
But in between study sessions and taking classes at two different schools, Pigford has found time to start her own business: Essentials by J.
Pigford founded Essentials by J after several six-hour round trips to a bath and beauty products store and an epiphany.
“I used to drive three hours away to stock up on products from a store I like in Orlando because we don’t have any stores like that nearby,” Pigford said. “I would spend tons of money. I bought a face mask I fell in love with and paid about eight to 10 dollars for it. It was a small container, and I thought, ‘I can make this myself.'”
Pigford began researching ingredients for face masks online. She read articles, watched YouTube videos, and developed a recipe uniquely her own.
“And then I decided that if I’m going to make a face mask, then maybe I should try to make another product,” Pigford said. “So I made bath bombs. I made scrubs, and I posted it on my Snapchat. A lot of people asked me to make them some, and others said I should start selling them. So, that’s exactly what I did.”
Since then, Pigford has opened an online store which offers bath bombs, food-shaped soaps, a body and lip scrub, essential oil soaps and even toilet cleaners. She creates her inventory with help from her mother.
“Currently, I dont’ pay her,” Pigford said. “She does it out of love.”
Pigford’s entrepreneurial spirit was instilled in her by her father.
“My Dad is a great inspiration. I don’t want to work for somebody as hard as I see my Dad working when I could be putting that towards my own future,” Pigford said. “I don’t want to work for someone else when I could be doing that for myself for my own benefit.”
Pigford is hoping to take her business to the next level with a big event.
“It’s a launch party. It’s basically my business launching off,” Pigford said. “Right now, my business is getting sales, but I want to blow it up. So, I want everybody to come and see what I have to offer and get my name out there because I believe in my products.”
Despite seeing business success at such a young age, Pigford knows she couldn’t have done it with out a lot of support.
“I want to thank God for how for he has brought me and my family,” Pigford said.
The Essentials by J Launch Party is set for 6:30 p.m. on June 24 at Lakes Chapel at 6125 Sheavette Rd. in Lake Park.