Mother-son duo planning fashion show to highlight youth entrepreneurs

submitted photo Aniki Allen, 11, is the creator of Ice Cream Bow Ties, a business he and his mother run together selling neckwear Allen has created from Legos. The two recently started creating a Hmong collection, seen on Allen above. The two are organizing a Nov. 24 youth fashion show at the Indigenous Roots Cultureal Arts Center.

A young entrepreneur and his mother are organizing a fashion show on the East Side to highlight youth entrepreneurs from around the Twin Cities.

Aniki Allen, 11, started a bow-tie business two years ago called Ice Cream Bow Ties with his mom, Marsha Magdalene. He makes various types of ties with Legos — they call them “brick pieces” due to a lack of license from the toy manufacturer.

The show the two are organizing, called #iamGREATNESS Fashion Show, will be held on Saturday, Nov. 24, at the Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center, 788 East Seventh St. 

The goal, said Allen and Magdalene, is to inspire other kids to go after their dreams.



Flavors of bow ties

The mother-son duo originally talked about starting an ice cream shop together after experimenting with making different flavors of the treat, but due to the overhead costs required to get a shop up and running, the idea didn’t work out. 

A new idea caught on when Allen was playing with Legos — he started putting pieces together to make bow ties. Eventually, the two decided to go with it and came up with Ice Cream Bow Ties — a tie-back to their original cool idea and a descriptor of the many “flavors” of bow ties. 

They now have an online shop where people can order the neckwear.

More recently, Allen and his mom started a Hmong collection of bow ties that are traditional, hand-embroidered paj ntaub.

The two share a love for fashion and see it as a way to bring positivity to the community. Allen said he became interested in fashion because of his mom’s influence, explaining that she’s always helped him to dress nice. 

“Fashion is cool for the community and it’s always around,” Allen said. “It’s a part of my life.”

He added he doesn’t mind running a business with his mother and said he enjoys spending time with her and being creative. “When you have a business you should always have someone with you.”

Magdalene said what she enjoys most about running the business with her son is seeing his growth over the past two years. 

“It’s amazing to see where he’s at now versus two years ago, intellectually, the communications ... and the confidence that he has in himself,” Magdalene said.

“And really the other thing too is his confidence in who he is really inspires other people.”


Uplifting others

To try to inspire other kids to follow their dreams, Allen and Magdalene are organizing the fashion show, which aims to highlight other youth fashion creators and entrepreneurs. 

They’ve also organized a few workshops where kids can work with Allen and learn how to be young entrepreneurs. They call the workshop “Youngpreneurs” and have one coming up in North Minneapolis on Saturday, Nov. 17. More information about it can be found at their website,

Some of the brands featured in the show will include pieces from Houston White, a fashion entrepreneur from North Minneapolis, who has been a supporter of youth entrepreneurs, having started his own business at a young age.

The show will also include pieces from Stud Ties, which is run by 12-year-old Sofia Berlund.

Jaequan Faulkner, a young man from North Minneapolis who became famous this past summer for opening his own hot dog stand, called Jaequan’s Old Fashioned Hot Dogs, will be selling hot dogs at the event. 

There will also be sweets provided by Yum Yum Brownies, which is run by Jerilyn Marice Sheppeard, who recently graduated high school.

“This is just a great way and ... platform to be able to give out to the young entrepreneurs, because you know, this isn’t being taught in school and it isn’t something that is heavily out here,” said Magdalene.

She said the whole point is to give kids the experience of trying something they’re interested in, whether it be modeling, creating or selling.   

“I think, being a person of color ... it’s super important for us to give other people opportunities to believe in their creativity and to believe in their dreams, no matter how young or how old,” Magdalene said. “We want to be able to create our own thing. I don’t want to wait for someone to go ‘Here’s this opportunity.’ I want to be able to create my own thing and evolve from that and inspire other people.”

Allen said it’s important for kids his age to have opportunities to try out new things.  

“I want people to have abilities to do whatever they want,” he said, pointing out it doesn’t matter what people do, just as long as people try. 

“Just do something you love.”


–Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at Follow her on Twitter at @EastSideM_Otto.

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