Essentials by J: Valdosta student builds business from scratch

| June 14, 2017

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.

For more information, visit the Essentials by J website. You can also find Essentials by J on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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4 Comments on "Essentials by J: Valdosta student builds business from scratch"

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  1. Mom says:

    I am truly blessed to have such an amazing daughter that shares the values of God and family. I hope your endeavors will bring you much joy and blessings in the future

    Love Mom

  2. Tammie Peters says:

    I have tried Jakayla’s bath products and they are incredible and affordable. I love to support young entrepreneurs, especially when they have a great product. Jakayla’s work ethic, creativity and reliance on God are a winning combination!

  3. Shomari says:

    The Essentials by J are just down right wonderful, perfect for any gift I hope the world gets to see something great.

  4. An Observer says:

    Impressive!
    The dual enrollment program is a Godsend to young people like Jakayla who are ahead of their peers in maturity. She’s obviously a go-getter and will continue to excel in life. I wish her continued success.