From lemonade stands to big business, entrepreneurship for kids can take many forms. Whatever interest your child leans toward, creative thinking and problem solving are invaluable skills that could see them rise to the top of a business empire.
“Entrepreneurship requires both resilience and curiosity,” says Meredith Meyer Grelli, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business. “Fortunately, these are useful traits for all of us, entrepreneurs or not. So we can feel good about engendering these traits in our children, regardless of their future paths.
If we can help children develop their curiosity about their world, and in particular, the willingness to delve into the frustrations or frictions they encounter themselves, they can find an opportunity. While going to the school dance, practicing for the big game, or getting ready to get a driver’s license may be typical teen activities outside of the classroom, some tweens are turning their passion into profit.
These four mini tycoons have started booming businesses and are encouraging other young people to get on the entrepreneurial wagon.
Ryan Hickman, Ryan’s Recycling Co.
The litter box was particularly troublesome for Ryan Hickman as a child. So much so that he decided to act. “My dad took me to the recycling center when I was about 3, and I loved it,” Ryan recalled. “I asked all of our neighbors to start recycling, and it took off. Here in California, we can cash in bottles for 5 cents each, so I was excited to make some money and save the planet. At age 7, he started Ryan’s Recycling Company, which has recycled more than 1.6 million cans and boFrom ABCs to CEOs: How these young entrepreneurs are making move titles.
These days, you can find him speaking to schools around the world, leading beach cleanups, doing on-camera interviews, and running Project3R, a nonprofit organization dedicated to recycling and environmental education. . In addition to speaking in South America, Hickman also plans to join scientists on a research trip aboard a submarine in the Mediterranean Sea near Spain.
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“Starting your own business isn’t that hard when you have people around you (who) support you,” Ryan says. “I’ve grown my business from my neighborhood to multiple cities, and that’s just because I took it one step at a time and didn’t get discouraged when challenges presented themselves. It can be baby step and growing over time. Ryan’s father, Damion Hickman, is impressed with his fearlessness on camera and his ambition. “I take care of certain parts of his business like his taxes and managing his money, but he’s involved in all of this,” he says. “I think it’s important for him to know as much of the full scope of the business as possible.”
Kamaria Warren stationery for brunette girls
In 2017, when she was 7, Kamaria Warren noticed the lack of racially diverse images on children’s school supplies. His solution: Brown Girls Stationery. We started with a character for her party invitations, and then we started thinking about ways to make money,” says Shaunice Sasser, Kamaria’s mother. “This was originally started to solve our problem of not being able to find a character who was brown with curly hair.”
Its products, sold online on sites such as Shopify and Faire Marketplace, as well as at local events, include backpacks, t-shirts, notebooks, blankets, shower curtains, umbrellas and party supplies for girls of color. Several models feature girls with disabilities and conditions like vitiligo. “I knew I wanted to create something I could be proud of, and other kids could be proud of too,” Kamaria says. “I wanted something they could wear that would represent them.” Kamaria works with her mother to launch a line of educational supplies such as bulletin board borders and classroom decor. She is also launching a second business, Stylish Brown Girls, a line of high-end vegan luxury handbags for teens.
Ariella Maizner, Theme
Ariella Maizner’s deep passion for fashion began at the age of 6 when she took to the sewing machine. At the age of 9, she was dyeing clothes on the roof of her family’s apartment. “I soon realized I had turned my passion into a business when I received hundreds of requests for custom pieces,” she says.
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Ariella quickly found herself at board meetings with top designers. “At first they asked me questions about my collection and gave me advice,” she says. “Now when I go to meetings, I have enough confidence in myself to present my ideas and lead the discussions. I think it’s very important to have confidence in your vision, but also to really listen to other people’s ideas and be open to feedback.
Soon she was hosting pop-up events at Bloomingdale’s and other department stores. The tie-dye pieces sold out every time. Walmart asked her to imagine a collection for teenagers, and she was the youngest designer at New York Fashion Week in 2019. “It’s an incredible feeling to see girls wearing my pieces around the world and for such a great undertaking to believe in me and my ability to design,” she says.
Deb Maizner, Ariella’s mother, offers this advice to parents of future CEOs: “First, make sure you encourage your child to do something he really enjoys. Starting a business is great fun, but it’s also a lot of work. “Second, seek advice and be open to learning. We’ve all learned a lot since Ariella launched Theme,” says Deb.
Five years ago, the four Billingslea brothers – Joshua, Isaiah, Caleb and Micah – had no idea that sharing their homemade, all-natural gourmet cookies with their community would change their lives. Now a year-long business partner, brother Andrew, has been added to the business, and they’ve been featured on “The Drew Barrymore Show” and several media outlets. Yummy Brothers dog biscuits, trays, drinks and treats are sold in major cities nationwide.
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They ship their cookies, with flavors like White Chocolate Lemon, Snickerdoodle, and Classic Chocolate Chip, to every state in the United States.
“Everybody in town started talking about cookies,” Caleb says. “Orders for cookies were coming in left and right. We couldn’t go anywhere without people asking for cookies.
The response was so great that the brothers decided to launch KidPreneur Expo, an online community aimed at helping others start their own businesses. The biscuit empire was imagined by the brothers, but the whole family got into it: the recipes were created by their great-grandmother, grandmother and mother. And their father, Greg, who is also an entrepreneur, thought of the name.
Micah says he enjoys working alongside his parents and siblings. “I can travel with my whole family and appreciate the responses from customers after they have eaten our cookies,” he says. “It just feels good.”