Sprinkling Grace Wherever She Goes: How a Little Girl Took Her Business to the Next Level with the Help of Wake Forest Law’s IP Law Clinic
Posted: February 9th, 2024
The Launch of Sprinkle Grace Co.
Five-year-old Grace Pierce and her mom Constance Hollingsworth—along with their family of entrepreneurs—have a reputation for making things happen. So when Grace began struggling with dry skin, Constance developed essential oil rollers, lip balm, and body butters to help her daughter combat the dryness. “I’ve always been creative,” says Constance. “I will research until I figure out how to create something.” Grace loved the products, and with her mom’s support, she launched a business selling them.
As the business expanded to include lipgloss, lollipops, hand sanitizer, diffuser and gemstone jewelry, a book, a doll, and more, so did the mission. Grace knew she wanted to “sprinkle grace and spread love” to girls, their moms, and their grandmothers, and use the business to do just that. Thus, Sprinkle Grace Co. was born.
Taking Sprinkle Grace Co. to the Next Level
From the beginning, Grace and Constance focused on making the best possible products that were representative of the brand.
They also wanted to legitimize their business. They started by attending a “kidpreneur” conference where they learned from other entrepreneurs how to take their business to the next level. “If we were going to do it, we were going to do it right,” says Constance.
Following the conference, they immediately filed for their LLC (Limited Liability Company), a business structure that helps protect business owners from personal liability of the company’s debts.
Next, they wanted to trademark the name Sprinkle Grace, but needed help going through the process.
Constance began researching free clinics that assist small business owners. That’s when she came across UNC School of Law’s Intellectual Property Clinic. Grace and Constance began working with a Carolina student team led by Clinical Associate Professor and Director Zaneta Robinson (JD ’03).
In 2021, Professor Robinson joined the faculty of Wake Forest Law as an associate clinical professor and the founding director of the Intellectual Property Law Clinic
But she had not forgotten about Sprinkle Grace.
Grace and Constance were ready. They transferred their files to Wake Forest Law’s Intellectual Property Law Clinic—one step closer to fulfilling their dreams.
Working with Wake Forest Law’s Intellectual Property Law Clinic
Wake Forest Law’s Intellectual Property Law Clinic (IP Law Clinic), under the supervision of Director Zaneta Robinson, provides pro bono law student representation to inventors, entrepreneurs, and small businesses in filing trademarks before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Through their work in the Clinic, Wake Forest Law students have an opportunity to put their coursework into real-world practice. Students gain experience drafting and filing trademark applications at a federal level, communicating with Trademark Examining attorneys, and drafting briefs in response to Office Actions or potential refusals to register.
Sprinkle Grace Co. and the IP Law Clinic were a great match. The Clinic took on Sprinkle Grace Co. as a client, making it their first priority to register the Sprinkle Grace trademark. With the help of a team of students working in the IP Law Clinic, that’s exactly what they did.
After Registering the Trademark
However, registering the trademark was just the beginning. The IP Law Clinic helped Grace and Constance understand the importance of maintaining and protecting the trademark. “A lot of people don’t understand the importance of trademark for business… It’s definitely something people should think about,” says Ishani Kumbar (JD Candidate ‘24), who worked on the project. “Even though trademarks aren’t life or death, they can represent someone’s livelihood. To grow their business in the future, they need to protect their brand. It’s another thing to maintain it and make sure you can enforce it against people who may be infringing upon it. A mark can become abandoned, then it doesn’t have any more protections and it’s fair game for anyone else to take.”
Declarations of Use, which allow trademark owners to keep their registration active, should be filed with the USPTO within the first 5-6 years of registration, says Ishani, and must be renewed the tenth year of registration and every 10 years after that.
Ishani says working with Sprinkle Grace Co. has been a rewarding experience. “I am learning so much about intellectual property,” she says. “The work is so important. I am honored to be a part of it.” She also admires Grace and Constance. “It’s impressive that someone so young had the idea and the drive to do something like this,” says Ishani. “Shout out to her mom for supporting her and helping her make it happen!”
Taking Advantage of Extensive Resources
Yang Cao (JD ’22), one of the first students to apply to be in the IP Law Clinic, was also assigned to Sprinkle Grace Co.
Although she learned some trademark law while taking an intellectual property class with Professor Simone Rose, working in the IP Law Clinic was her first real practice experience. Yang did not let that stop her. After being assigned to Sprinkle Grace Co., she took advantage of her extensive resources, relying on Professor Robinson for expertise, as well as intellectual property classes. “Professor Robinson designed the curriculum really well,” says Yang.
She also learned from her classmates. “During the lecture time, we could talk to different groups to hear what they are doing, learn about their experiences, share with each other,” says Yang. “Even when you’re describing the same thing, the listener is learning the information in different ways.”
Yang, who recently passed the bar, has decided to become a patent attorney, a desire cemented by her experience in the IP Law Clinic.
The Future of Sprinkle Grace Co.
Sprinkle Grace is now a registered trademark—a feat that would have been difficult without the foresight of Constance and Grace and the diligence of the IP Law Clinic students. “[The Clinic has] been wonderful,” says Constance. “I am so grateful for their hard work and taking the journey with us to see it through.”
Sprinkle Grace Co. doesn’t plan to stop there, however.
Sprinkle Grace Co. applied and joined the Amazon Black Business Accelerator Program, which provides support in building an Amazon Store. They also started a podcast on Apple, Sprinkle Grace Adventures, and revamped their YouTube channel, Sprinkle Grace.
The company—whose products are sold online and in three stores (for now)—hopes to launch additional products, like hoodies. They are also planning a coat drive. “[We just] want to inspire people,” says Constance. “Life can be hard. So we want to make sure we’re a movement and doing things to change the world.”
Despite all the hard work, Constance also makes it a priority for Grace to just be a kid—sprinkling grace and love wherever she goes.
To learn more about Sprinkle Grace, visit their website at https://www.sprinklegraceco.com/.