Gabriella Carter is a Jamaican-born entrepreneur who spent the majority of her childhood in the United Kingdom. When she was 13, her family moved to Florida, and she started middle school.
She paired her outstanding academic success with athletics in high school, playing softball and vigorously running on the track. Carter’s aim was to attend college directly after high school, but the expense of attendance was prohibitively exorbitant for her.
She also did not want to join the ranks of those who were plagued by school debt. This prompted her to begin looking for and applying for student scholarships.
“Once I figured out that there’s free money out there that other people could give to me because they believed in me and my dreams so that I could go to school for free, I jumped on it and applied to every opportunity that I saw,” Carter told CNBC Made It.
According to her, she applied to over 100 different programs despite the grueling process of the application. “The more scholarships I applied to, the better applications I was able to submit and ultimately have more success down the line,” she notes.
Carter explains that she had 30 scholarship applications denied in a row before obtaining a $20,000 check from Coca-Cola. According to CNBC Made It, Carter received 35 separate scholarship prizes totaling more than $2 million between his high school and college years. A large scholarship allowed her to graduate from college debt-free.
People grew intrigued in her scholarship achievement after learning how she did it. One enquiry led to another, prompting her to expand her side hustle into a full-time job.
“We had our scholarship banquet at my high school, I had to get up at least 20 times to collect my different awards,” Carter says. “That made people very curious about how I was able to have scholarship success.”
Growing with Gabby was inspired by this. It began offline and eventually went digital, utilizing social media to answer some of her high school peers’ questions, and quickly gained a bigger audience. She also experimented with content creation and shared her success story on YouTube. During her time at Princeton, she relaunched as Growing with Gabby and grew her Instagram following.
“I didn’t even know people were really making money like that from posting online until I was approached with an opportunity from a major retailer and they paid me $2,500 to share about a scholarship opportunity that they had,” Carter says. “Once that happened, I was like, ‘OK, I see the value in the information that I’m offering.’”
She acquired a job as a marketing analyst after graduating from Princeton in 2022, earning $90,000 per year. She did, however, leave her 9-to-6 job in February of this year to focus on growing her firm and pursuing a new venture — being a part of NBC Universal’s inaugural Creator Accelerator program.
According to CNBC Made It, the company earned $177,000 in 2022, but Carter anticipates it will make closer to $300,000 this year.