Asia Newson, 11, could sell dust to a desert.
“Since I was about 4 or 5-years-old, I’ve always had, like, the vibe, or, like, I don’t know, little power ball that keeps me going,” Asia told ABC News’ “20/20.”
Known as “Detroit’s youngest entrepreneur,” Asia is the co-founder and CEO of Super Business Girl, a company she runs with her parents. Asia often approaches complete strangers on the street to sell them homemade candles so she can buy clothes and food for needy children, as well as her own school and business supplies.
“Detroit is a wonderful place. It’s been a lot, a lot of negative things on the news and stuff like that. We even went through bankruptcy,” Asia said. “But Detroit is still a great place to start a business. We have wonderful people. They’ll encourage you. I mean, I sell my candles here, like I make pretty good money.”
Asia’s dad Michael Newson is both her silent partner and not-so-silent mentor and stays nearby as she makes her sales pitch to people on sidewalks, in markets, in city barbershops and in the suburbs.
Her personality even bubbled up on “Ellen,” when she helped lead her school, the Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences, in an ecstatic rendition of Pharrell’s song, “Happy.”
“She is just a big ball of inspiration when she walks the hallways, and, you know, she inspires other children,” Maurice Morton, the school’s CEO, told “20/20.”
Asia now counts among her business role-models the Midwest mogul and NBA team owner Dan Gilbert, who met Asia when she was selling candles on the sidewalk. Asia remembers Gilbert asked her to give him her pitch. Impressed with her sales bravado, Gilbert invited Asia to have a follow-up discussion.
“We had a meeting, we talked about a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot of stuff. And he gave me some advice, and I saw what he did as, you know, Dan Gilbert, his life, I saw what he did. And just a very cool experience,” Asia recalled.
For a little girl, Asia has some very adult-sized ambitions.
“[I want] to have Super Business Girl stores, and, you know, just different places, like the Walt Disney store. They can buy my Super Business Girl merchandise, mugs, shoelaces, backpacks, notebooks, candles, everything,” said Asia.
Dave Anderson, along with his partners Mike Ferlito, Amanda Lewan and Brian Davis, own Bamboo Detroit, an incubator for start-ups and entrepreneurs. A year and a half ago, Anderson bought a candle from Asia on the sidewalk, and raved about her sales technique to his partners.
“I was so impressed with her pitch, I just wanted to give her all the money in my pocket,” Anderson told “20/20.”
The company now gives Asia free space and internet support to develop her business and train other kids in the art of the sale.
“You know, she really understands business concepts a lot better than most adults that I interact with, and it’s just a natural thing,” Anderson said.
“They taught me a lot about, like, managing my money. How much money do I have to invest back into my business?” Asia said.
Bamboo Detroit’s staff even offered a few tips on how Asia might improve her celebrated sales pitch.