An Oklahoma Christian student is set to make an appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank.
Freshman Jasmine Benton, owner of Precious Designs, is a finalist in the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship’s (NFTE) first nationwide competition, which will be featured on the popular TV show.
Benton holds certifications in Interior Design & Home Styling and Inspired Youth STEM Entrepreneur . She is also the co-author of “kidCEO: Amazing Kids Share Their Success in Business” and has had her work featured on the “Steve Harvey Show.”
In a recent interview with the Talon, Benton discussed her business experience and mindset ahead of the competition.
Q: Describe your business and idea to those who don’t know your story.
I started designing and interior decorating at age nine. My grandmother would take me to her friend’s houses and her client’s houses, and she would teach me the science of it. I fell in love. She taught me for about two years or so, but my business, my passion, didn’t start until I designed this yellow papier-mache vase—I still have the picture. It is my icon. When I designed it, which was kind of a fluke, it was a moment where God kind of showps you that this is it, this is what you need to do, and I realized this was my purpose. So I’ve been doing it ever since.
My business is called Precious Designs. I started it when I was eleven. My first storefront was at the Allen Antique Mall, a store where a lot of entrepreneurs can have businesses. I sold out in one hour, and it was a huge blessing. From there, my business grew into refurbishing housewares—chairs, tables, vases. But our signature is the yellow papier-mache. No vase is the same; it’s my craft. I love it. It’s how people remember my business. We are branching into other areas of revenue like event design and home staging—all sorts of things.
Q: What is something, or a few things, you have picked up from Oklahoma Christian that has helped you and your business?
Here at Oklahoma Christian, I have always struggled with time management. I like to blend my personal life and my business life, but being here has taught me how to do that better. My professors and my peers have helped me balance when I have time for school work, when I have time for my personal life, and when I have time for my business life. It is a great thing to have people support you and not tear you down. God sent you here for a reason. Amy, the director of interior architecture, said she doesn’t care about your past, you are here to learn, and I love that. Even though I have my own business and I am certified, she is helping me go back to the basics. I am relearning how to build a business the way God wants me to build a business. It’s not my way but his.
Q: What advice would you give to others looking to pursue their passion as an entrepreneur?
I have always said to other entrepreneurs—never let somebody tell you no. If you have this passion or a purpose, you have to move with it. You find other ways to go with it. Somebody may tell you no because they are envious, because they don’t want to deal with you or even because they don’t believe in you. Don’t take no for an answer. Believe in yourself and your worth. It is a struggle. You constantly hear people say no, but that shouldn’t stop you. Listen to God. He will take you where you need to go.
Q: How did you get connected with Shark Tank, and what has that experience been like?
I graduated from the very first entrepreneur academy in Dallas. The school had its first advanced Shark Tank competition in the nation, and it has since gone nationwide. I competed locally and won the competition. I then competed regionally and won that competition. Coming up in October, I will be going to nationals. I am one of three in the nation who will go and compete. The competition will be aired and taped.