Monday, December 9, 2013

Don't Ask Me What I Want to Be, Ask Me Who I Am

Why do we ask kids “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, especially if what they want to be is something that they already are.  Lilah had a dream to operate an Etsy shop.  At first she thought she would sell baked goods.  However, I was a bit leery about selling food, dealing with the health department, and catering issues, etc.  Plus, selling fresh food would mean that our lives could possibly revolve around orders and that could be problematic.  She then came up with the idea of selling her handmade bows online.  This I could say Yes to!

Last summer Lilah became an entrepreneur.  Like most entrepreneurs, capital was required to start her business.  She was gifted many of the supplies needed and she used some of her own savings to purchase others.  She turned the back room (my former art studio) into her workshop.  There are many nights when I am getting ready for bed and she is still at her table, glue gun in hand.  

She made several sales this fall.  Some to other Etsy crafters like Keillee @ Homeschool Girls (whose handmade knit items are wonderfully creative) and Jenna @ LearningAlltheTime (whose handmade earrings are not only adorable, but very well made), some to fellow Instagram friends, and some to complete strangers.  There are also teens who are crafting for a cause, like Ductanddonate2, who sells craft items and donates 100% of her sales to Boston’s Children’s Hospital in support of her sister who receives care there.  These children are not waiting until they hit a magic age that quantifies them as an adult.  They are not waiting to graduate high school or college to pursue their dreams.  They are doing what they want to do now and taking the future as it comes, one day at a time.

What does a child entrepreneur learn?
Business Math: pricing, shipping costs, operational costs, profit/loss, supply cost, tax.
Marketing: online marketing.  Lilah’s Instagram account, LAcrafters, recently hit 1,000 followers.  Thankfully it has been a positive place for crafters to meet and share ideas and feedback.  There have been a few learning opportunities as well in handling negativity and just plain mean-spiritedness   Out of 1,000 followers, I have only had to delete 2 from her account.  
eCommerce: Lilah designed her Etsy shop. She created the logo, continually updates new listing and removes sold items.  She monitors feedback from purchasers and cross posts on Instagram.  
Photography: Sometimes I forget that the pictures she posts on Instagram are taken by an 11 year old child.  She has an eye for composition, lighting and editing.  
Quality Control: She cannot sell everything she makes and has offered seconds at discounted prices.  
Internet Based Instruction: She uses Youtube to learn to improve her sewing skills, fine tune sculpting techniques, and learn how to rainbow loom.  
Branding: She has her own signature wrapping and sends a personal thank you note and a business card with each sale.  
Responsibility: Each sale must be shipped within 3 business days.  Of course she relies on me to get her to the post office on time but she must have her order ready.
Independence: Mom and Dad will not finance this business venture.  We gifted her some of the start up costs, but now that she has experienced a very successful first craft fair, she has funds to invest in her own business, and money to put into savings to cover entry fees for future craft shows.  We now operate on a 50/50 rule, 50% saved and 50% to be used for supplies and personal spending.  
Confidence: You cannot put into numbers or give a grade to the degree of confidence that comes with experiencing failures and successes.  Confidence is something that comes with completing registration forms, learning new skills, improving a skill that was a struggle, speaking to customers, explaining products, and researching opportunities to grow her business.

Who knows how long this will last.  Right now crafting is her passion.  Perhaps it will turn into a passion for photography or sketching, or she may revert back to her other interest, baking.  She may try something entirely new and close her Etsy site in favor of pursuing other opportunities.  However, she will never look back and think that she was not old enough, or capable enough to do something now.  She will realize that one does not necessarily need to wait to achieve a dream, follow an interest, or learn a skill.  With support, opportunity, and determination, a child can be what they want to be at this very moment.


Karen said...

This is magnificent. I showed Keilee your Instagram photos and she was so excited for Lilah and her craft show. Actually we have a HUGE craft show that was this past weekend. Keilee said her goal for next year is to be in it. I love how all of our girls inspire each other and Kei and I were VERY impressed with all the goodies Lilah has created. Keilee said, "I don't see some of these on her Etsy store" ;) I agree that it teaches our girls so many great skills. Keilee doesn't get any help from me except as a chauffeur when she needs supplies or to go to the Post Office. GREAT JOB LILAH!!!!! I wish we could have come to your show.

Diane said...

How wonderful. I pinned this post to remind me of an idea for a young entrepreneurial class at the cooperative. Thanks so much for sharing this.

Sandra said...

Her stall looks fantastic. Well done Lilah. And well done to you for supporting her to follow her passions.

Jessica said...

I wish you could have come too! This was a small craft fair at a local church. I thought it made sense to have her try it out and see if she likes it in a small, family oriented, supportive setting. The entry fees for craft fairs here are soooo expensive. The larger ones cost too much for a child to enter. She would not even break even. She is going to be posting the items that did not sell on her Etsy site soon!

Jessica said...

That is a great idea for a coop class!

Jessica said...

Most of my time and energy goes towards supporting these two girls achieve their dreams. For Lilah, it is about crafting and for Grace it is all about music and volunteering. They sure do keep us busy!

Joyful Learner said...

This is so wonderful. You are doing a fabulous job supporting their loves!

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