Self-titled #kidboss Nyla Samone McMichael founded her accessory business Simply Samone in 2019 with the goal to inspire other young entrepreneurs
By Marie Muir | Photography by John Michael Simpson
“I wear those a lot,” Nyla Samone McMichael says, pointing to a pair of rhinestone-covered stud earrings – a style that she’s named “Goddess.” “And the ‘Goldilocks’ pair, too, because I love gold. My whole room is gold, and [it’s] part of my business colors.”
Nyla, 11, launched her accessory line Simply Samone in 2019. Wristlets, keychains, pouches, T-shirts and 60-plus styles of “sassy, classy stud earrings” fill her colorful catalog of handmade items for sale.
“They’re classy because you can wear them anywhere,” Nyla explains. “You can walk into school, to work, to church, anywhere. You can even wear them to Bible study.”
Nyla’s parents, Nathaniel McMichael and Ashlee McMichael, were hardly surprised when their daughter first approached them with the idea. Entrepreneurship runs in the family.
Nathaniel owns Kingdom Services, a house painting company, and Ashlee works part time as a nail technician at Bella Trio Salon & Spa while managing Ashlee Maree Interiors, an interior design/organization services business. Nyla’s grandmother Lydia Houston is a fashion designer who has crafted outfits for the African American Dance Ensemble and sewn names and numbers on the jerseys of the Durham Bulls.
It was Lydia who helped Nyla create and sell her first accessory, a coin purse made out of recycled denim, to a girl who also attends her school, Research Triangle Charter Academy. Dozens of friends and family members celebrated Nyla’s business with a launch party at Nolia: Family + Coffee shop on Oct. 27, 2019. The young CEO has since sold thousands of earrings, built an impressive Instagram fan base at @simply_samone1 and launched her own Instagram talk show, @simple_talk1.
Online sales took off when the pandemic hit. An Instagram live interview with Pür Bella Naturals plant-based hair product line owner Lashanda “Shan” DeBerry sparked a sales spike in June 2020. Shan purchased 100 pairs of Simply Samone studs and included them in 100 Pür Bella orders. The fervent demand led Ashlee to enlist a college student to build Nyla a website. “It happened so fast,” Ashlee says. “Last year, she had 400 followers. Now she has over 5,000.”
Monthly giveaways and live interviews transformed the self-made “#kidboss,” – a hashtag you’ll see across her platforms and on her merchandise – into a social media star. Nyla’s former babysitter and Bull City Craft camp counselor Ajani Chinfloo joined her team as a creative assistant to help with new product designs and content creation, specifically for TikToks and Instagram Reels.
When she’s done with her homework, Nyla crafts her accessories and packages weekly orders from a workspace in the downstairs office of her North Durham home. Even her 17-year-old brother, Nae-Quez “Q” McMichael, who attends Research Triangle High School helps out occasionally by making post office runs. All of Nyla’s stud earrings are made of stainless steel and are hypoallergenic, and she offers clip-on earrings for people who don’t have piercings. She names each of her accessories based on color, texture and whatever they remind her of in the moment.
Ashlee says the “Gumballs” are a big seller, to which Nyla confidently replies, “They always have been.” She’s also motivated by culture and causes – check out the colorful patterns in her “Juneteenth Collection” or pick a pair of “Perfect Puzzles”: earrings made to spread awareness about autism. “I named a pair of earrings after Nia for Sickle Cell Awareness Month in September last year,” Nyla says, speaking about her 4-year-old sister, Nia McMichael, who has sickle cell disease. “The color of Sickle Cell Awareness is burgundy, and so I created a burgundy fabric stud.”
Simply Samone’s success has allowed Nyla to donate to nonprofits including Carol’s Promise Sickle Cell Foundation and the Ronald McDonald House of Durham & Wake.
Nyla’s motto, “You only rise by lifting others,” led her to launch a weekly Instagram talk show where she interviews kids who have also started their own business (or who want to).
“If you know me really well, I talk a lot,” Nyla says. “So half of [the talk show] is business talk, and half of it is fun questions, like we ask their favorite colors, ice-cream flavors – stuff like that.”
The next iteration of Simply Samone’s social media posts will include live, biweekly product reviews in which Nyla opens and discusses products gifted to her by fellow entrepreneurs. Creating new content is exciting, but Nyla says that seeing people wear her accessories and inspiring others to discover their own entrepreneurial spirit is what gives her the most joy. “I helped two young girls start their own businesses,” she says, adding, “I am proud.”