Mt. Vernon Teen Starts Legwarmer Business, Meets the President

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Lily DeBell meets the president
President Barack Obama greets from left: Jesse Horine, Lily DeBell, and Ambar Romero.(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Lily DeBell, 14, has been knitting for five years. Recently, she parlayed her skill into an Etsy shop that sells legwarmers, a $25,000 entrepreneurship prize, and an invitation to the White House.

The Mount Vernon Resident (and Roland Park Middle School student) started Lily’s Legwarmers to fulfill a genuine need. Dancers wear legwarmers to keep their muscles limber. Most commercially available ones are made from acrylic which, according to DeBell, doesn’t do the job as well as natural fibers. Plus, some dancers, like her younger sister Genevieve, 11, can find them uncomfortable. So DeBell makes hers from a blend of wool and alpaca. As of last month, she’s sold 50 pairs of legwarmers and has begun to turn a profit.

In October, DeBell won the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in California, from a starting field of 20,000 — many of them high school and college students. The prize, a mix of cash, scholarship money, products, and support services, totaled $25,000.

Just this week, DeBell and two runners-up in the competition were invited to the White House to meet with President Barack Obama. According to WJZ, she gave the president some legwarmers, and the topic of conversation was the importance of women entrepreneurs.



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