Condoleezza Semien couldn’t bear to see her mother feeling so uncomfortable as she dealt with Lupus. Lupus is an autoimmune disease where the body’s own immune system attacks tissues and organs. But at 13, Condoleezza said she wasn’t sure what she could do to help. That changed when she had a discussion about natural relief remedies with her hairdresser.
They talked about scented pillows and the different effects scents have on the human body. It gave Condoleezza an idea. Why not saturate the pillow stuffing with a blend of plant-based essential oils to help her mom?
That was two years ago, and her company called Beluga Bliss was born. Belugabliss.com is an online store that sells scented pillows and essential oils. “I’m very proud of myself for it. I know what I’m doing is beneficial,” she humbly remarked.
Then, her company got a boost from the Young Entrepreneurs Academy of Baton Rouge (YEA BR). The organization transforms area high school students into entrepreneurs. Condoleezza and Beluga Bliss were chosen to represent Louisiana in the YEA Nationals competition, where she won the People’s Choice Award for her division. “Being 13, I was the youngest. It was a great experience for me. I had never been to New York,” she said proudly.
Condoleezza is now 15, in the eleventh grade, and is a business owner. She credits University View Academy for being flexible enough to allow her to continue building her business. In the meantime, she’s enrolled in Early College High School to earn her associate’s degree upon graduation from UVA. She said her plan is to become a medical researcher with hopes of working on a cure for Lupus, the disease that has stricken her mom. Condoleezza has also made Beluga Bliss a family affair. While she mixes the oils, her mom tests the products. Her brother is the website and computer technical expert, and her sister does the marketing. Her dad drives Condoleeza to make deliveries. “My business has grown a lot, and in ways, I can’t imagine,” she declared.