“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” — Maya Angelou.
As we honor the work and contributions of Black leaders in history and today, Dr. Maya Angelou’s reference to “diversity” is all-encompassing. Beauty and strength in diversity comes when we also recognize differences in ability, talent and spirit. Our Kid to Know this month is a shining example of how the very thing that makes him different is also his greatest strength.
TBPM: What motivated you to start a business at 8 years old?
Jordan Parramore: One of the things that motivated me at the age of 8 was actually my love for Legos. The minute I made money, my parents took me to the Lego Store, and I would purchase huge builds to create. I remember approaching my dad (Carl) to tell him that I wanted to start a lemonade stand. Once I connected my mom (Audrey) to the conversation, “Jordan’s Juice Bar” was created.
TBPM: How did you become interested in the culinary arts? How has this shaped the transformation of your business to include dessert treats?
Jordan Parramore: I really love all things food-related. As a little kid, I watched the Food Network and other food channels more than other TV programming. My parents taught me to cook and enjoy being in the kitchen. One of my favorite memories was getting a chance to meet one of my favorite bakers in Fort Worth, Texas, who had won competitions on the Food Network. It is a dream of mine to be on one of the cooking channels. When it comes to cooking, it is fun, and you get to come up with creations that look amazing and taste amazing. Every year, my Grandma and Papa in Virginia send me tools to cook with. One is a mini waffle maker, which I love creating cake batter waffles with for breakfast.
TBPM: Let’s talk about the impact you’ve made on the lives of others. Please share how you became involved with local foster children. How has this impact grown year after year?
Jordan Parramore: During the pandemic, my mom, brother, and I were chatting about how we could donate to A Kid’s Place in Brandon. My mom was actually just going to donate to a few children, and I mentioned we should donate to all the children. We did it! The following year, I used my business to get toys donated. Every Friday, I would post ads on social media asking for toys in exchange for my Cocoa Bombs. Guess what? I had 100 toys that year to take to A Kid’s Place! The toys literally took over my parents’ entire living room floor. This year, in my third year donating to A Kid’s Place, I am considering adding a turkey drive for at least 10 families in Tampa Bay.
TBPM: From neighborhood Farmers’ Markets to an upcoming shared kitchen, your business has grown so much that you’re even meeting with financial advisors. Why do you think you’ve been so successful, and what can you teach others about what it takes to grow a business in eight years?
Jordan Parramore: One of the reasons I feel I am successful is because I believe in myself, and I can learn just like anyone else in the world. Also, my parents taught me to follow what I enjoy doing. Now having my business, working at Busch Garden, and going to school keeps me motivated to work hard at everything I do. I am learning through my parents about retiring early and how you have to save to do that. If I am making money now at this age, I think it’s important to save now and not wait till later. Also, one of my attributes that has helped me get this far is my perseverance and never giving up. I always keep going and believe in what I touch.
TBPM: Though you were diagnosed with autism when you were two years old, you realized many years later that you had something that made you different and special. How do you explain what being autistic means and how do you advocate for other kids with special needs?
Jordan Parramore: Being autistic is being me. I advocate to my friends who may have special needs to let them know about job opportunities. When I explain autism, it is no different really, it’s just that I may think and see some things differently. It may also take me a little longer to get something, but I am still able to understand. One of the good things in school and at work is there are accommodations for me. The accommodations at work are there for me when I struggle to understand, but I know we all have struggles, and we all also have great amazing attributes. Every one of us is needed to make the world go around.
TBPM: In addition to being a young entrepreneur, you also go to Wharton High School and work at Busch Gardens. What are your goals for this year in school and work, and what hobbies do you enjoy outside of your regular schedule?
Jordan Parramore: One of my goals for school is to start next year looking for scholarships for college so I can study Culinary Arts or Hotel Restaurant Management. For my junior year of school, I would love to run for Junior King Court, with The Cocoa Bomb Kid stance: just believe in yourself. At work, I would like to move into becoming a ride operator. Outside of school and work, I am a true gamer. Fortnite is one of my all-time favorite video games.
TBPM: Something tells me you’ll make history- between incorporating giveback in your life’s work to pursuing your passion and also learning to monetize it, the sky is truly the limit for Jordan Parramore! As we celebrate Black History this month, tell us about a black leader that has inspired you along the way.
Jordan Parramore: My number one mentor would be my dad, Carl Parramore. He served in the military, retired and graduated from Auburn. He even started his own business, and he continues to motivate me in my own business. I am also inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr. in pursuing my dreams. It’s my dream to change how people view those with special needs through the work I do, which demonstrates that we can do anything that anyone else in the world can do.
TBPM: What do you enjoy doing most with your family in Tampa Bay?
Jordan Parramore: This is going to sound funny: One of the things I enjoy doing in Tampa when I am not working at Busch Gardens is to head back in as a visitor in the park. If I can pick two things, I also like Armature Works and the Riverwalk to take in all they have to offer in the variety of foods.
Originally published in February 2023 of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.