Amber Liggett comes from a long line of entrepreneurs, but even within her accomplished family, Amber stands out. She started her business, Amber’s Amazing Animal Balloons, at the age of nine, and has been running it for several years. It all began with a balloon kit she received for Christmas. Amber recalls, “I twisted so many shapes that it amazed my parents. My mom told me that if I continued to learn new shapes and could make them from memory, she would help me start my own balloon business.”
Well-known in her community as “The Balloon Girl,” Amber has organized and hosted fundraisers for local social services agencies, collecting hundreds of dollars, and countless food and clothing items for families in need. She is acutely aware of the poverty around her and understands that even the smallest gesture can make a difference. As she says, “Some children appear very wealthy, and others can’t afford a balloon. I always give them one anyway. I never want to see a child suffer or miss out because they don’t have money.”
Amber has been widely recognized for her entrepreneurial success. She was named 2012 Black Enterprise Magazine Teenpreneur of the Year, Ernst & Young’s 2011 Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and PBS featured Amber and her business on its Bizkid$ television program. Amber was also the only teen chosen to serve on Pennsylvania Senator Elder Vogel’s Business Advisory Board.
Amber is always eager to pass on the skills that she has learned in the process of building her business. This will be her third summer as an instructor at the Community College of Beaver County, where she teaches children and teens about balloon making and entrepreneurship. She leads carnival workshops at the college’s Autism Summer Camp. There, Amber mentors youth who are interested in building their own businesses, including her 10-year-old brother, Robbie, who runs Robbie’s Remarkable Photography.
Through the NFTE advanced business class, Amber learned to better manage and expand her business. She also gained the confidence to run her business more independently and be the central decision maker, rather than rely on her family for advice. Having mastered upwards of one hundred elaborate balloon shapes, Amber has expanded her offerings and now includes face painting, spin art, sand art, cotton candy and soon gel tattoos. Her goal is to earn both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and expand her business to multiple cities, offering a variety of products and services.
Amber considers her relative youth an advantage in the balloon biz. She says, “My age alone sets me apart from my competitors. I am able to relate to children and interact well with them.” She also takes seriously the responsibility of being a role model, frequently hiring other young people to assist her. She finds herself urging her peers not to do anything in their personal lives that could negatively affect their business and any future opportunities they may have. But her best advice to aspiring young entrepreneurs is simple: "By combining hard work and determination you will achieve success, so never give up!"