Leanna Archer is the 20-year-old CEO of Leanna’s Inc., a hair and body care products company that carries 14 different items. She was the youngest person – age 13 – to ring the NASDAQ opening bell.
Archer started her company at age nine. The company now grosses almost $500,000 annually while operating from the basement of the family’s Central Islip home, but in the future will be relocating and expanding.
In Haiti, Archer’s great grandmother Lea Lebon made a natural hair dressing using the country’s native plants — hibiscus, avocado, almond and rosemary oils, shipping vats to the family in the U.S. Later, while staying with the family, her great grandmother shared the formula with Leanna.
A seven-year-old Archer gave some of the hair dressing to friends, portions handed out in baby food jars.
“Checks started coming in the mail. People would stop by asking for $20 worth,” says Archer, who was getting orders before her parents knew. The first $100 went to get a business license. In 2005 when she was eight, her dad set up a basic website so people could buy the product on-line.
Dad Gregory — now, chief operating officer — quit his job to help her run the company. CEO Archer makes the product, packages and fulfills orders. The whole family helps with production.
In 2008, at age 13, Archer travelled to Haiti for the first time. She was named Child Ambassador of Haiti by then-President Rene Preval.
She says, “I met kids who had never been to school, who had to take care of their family, while I was playing with Barbie dolls. “That year, Archer founded in Haiti the Leanna Archer Education Foundation that provides three meals daily and an education to nearly 200 children. LAEF also focuses on developing each child’s vocational talents and skills.
Challenged after the earthquake, it took a year and a half to find the same quality and quantity of essential oils, but Archer is committed to doing business in Haiti.
Archer began public speaking at age 11. She has been a speaker at the Black Enterprises Teenpreneur conference and was a panelist at the “What Makes a Young Champion” forum in Singapore. Today she is a motivational speaker.
Two to three times-a-month, she speaks to tweens, teens, and college students on leadership and entrepreneurism, or on business panels or classes about mark-up, profit, revenue, and time and business management.