Journi D’Khaos Prewitt Is Bringing Black Girl Magic to Your Mailbox

At an age when most teenagers are getting their first jobs, Journi D’Khaos Prewitt started her own business. Inspired by her little brother and cousins — and her own experience being bullied for her appearance — the Memphis-based teen launched Black Butterfly Beautiful, a subscription box to help empower, educate, and entertain children of color through a monthly selection of books and other goodies.

Prewitt, now 18, is a freshman at the University of Memphis but still maintains the monthly mail-outs for her 330 subscribers. She’s even growing the socially conscious side of the business by including donations to local foster homes. With future aspirations to open her own school and a leadership philosophy that’s wise beyond her years, Prewitt and her entrepreneurial streak are just getting started. Here, we chat with her about the power of representation in consumer culture, her family’s role in her business, and the importance of perseverance.

B+C: Why did you decide to create the Black Butterfly Beautiful box?

D’Prewitt: I wanted to give children of color something that made them feel like, “Okay these are people that look like me and that I can relate to.” I wanted to make them want to read more, so I create a box that they can get every month that comes with a book, but also things like slime, makeup, and jewelry.

B+C: How do you handle getting all the boxes packed up and sent out on time?

D’Prewitt: The team that helps build the boxes are my friends. My best friends come over to my house and we do this thing that we call “box week.” We have pizza and watch movies while we’re making the boxes. It’s this thing that we’ve turned into a sleepover, almost.

B+C: That sounds really fun!

D’Prewitt: Yeah, it’s a fun thing that I do with my friends, and for this month and next month, we’re going to need a lot of help, because, in addition to the 330 boxes [for subscribers], I am donating 25 girls’ boxes and 25 boys’ boxes to children in foster care in Memphis. So, we’re asking some of my family to come help as well.

B+C: Being a business owner also often means being a leader. What qualities do you think a good leader should have?

D’Prewitt: I think a leader should be able to lead from the back or the front. They should know when to step up, but they should also know when to step back.

B+C: You just graduated from high school and you’re heading off to college soon. What’s going to happen to Black Butterfly Beautiful while you’re off on your next adventure?

D’Prewitt: That’s actually the reason why I chose to stay here at the University of Memphis. So, it’s not like I’m leaving my mom to do it all on her own. I’m still able to help her, but additionally, I am teaching my little brother and my little cousins how to make the boxes, since they were part of the inspiration for creating them. When I can no longer do it and I’m on to my next venture, I want them to be able to take over and help it thrive.

B+C: It sounds like your mom has been a big supporter of your business. What was the reaction from your parents when you shared this idea with them?

D’Prewitt: My mom has always been my biggest supporter and my best friend. She was just like, “Alright, let’s go. Let’s start planning. Let’s figure out what we want it to be about, what’s our purpose. Let’s start with the basics.” My mom was there for it all. My business wouldn’t be where it is without my mom. She’s my backbone of the operation.

B+C: What’s the best feedback you’ve received from a customer about the box?

D’Prewitt: I would have to say it was from a grandma. She got one for her granddaughter and she loved it. One month, her box didn’t come, because her grandma thought that she wasn’t liking them, and the little girl was like, “No, I love them! I love reading the books that come, and I just love seeing all of the little things that come in the box with it.” That’s the feedback that stuck with me the most, because the main purpose of my business is to get kids to love to read.

B+C: All of your boxes have a monthly theme. What’s a personal favorite of yours?

D’Prewitt: My ultimate favorite was called, “Beautiful in Every Shade.” I liked that one because when I was growing up, I got bullied for being dark-skinned. That box let the girls know that we don’t all have to look the same, that we’re all beautiful, and we’re all able to accomplish things and be each other’s biggest supporter.

B+C: What’s your career goal?

D’Prewitt: Well, it doesn’t have anything to do with Black Butterfly Beautiful, but I want to have my own school. I want to have a school that’s not just about teaching the basics, like math and reading, but one that’s also teaching life skills, entrepreneurship, and how to balance a checkbook. These are things that, as an 18-year-old, I didn’t learn throughout school; I learned from asking questions and asking people. So, I just want to be able to teach kids that this is what you need for life.

B+C: What would you say to other young women who have big career dreams like you, but aren’t sure how to go about achieving them?

D’Prewitt: I would say, go for it. You’re going to hit some bumps in the road, and it’s not going to be all smooth and rainbows, but you will never know until you try. Sometimes it might keep you down, but you have to get up and tell them that you’re stronger — show them that you’re stronger.

Written by: Cortney Clift and Nicole Villeneuve

Design by: Yising Chou

“Future Women of America” is a multimedia project spotlighting 15 young women under 20 who are making bold moves. Click here to see all the trailblazing women and girls featured.