News: CJ Exclusives

Youthful entrepreneurs show wares at Children’s Business Fair

More than 60 children at 43 booths participated in inaugural Raleigh event to encourage entrepreneurial potential

Cupcake Cuties business owners Ashley Mantz and Ella Hingos. (Photo courtesy of John William Pope Foundation)
Cupcake Cuties business owners Ashley Mantz and Ella Hingos. (Photo courtesy of John William Pope Foundation)

Twelve-year-old Tyler Estridge has been baking old-fashioned cakes for three years.

“I go around the neighborhood and I sell cakes and see if they want to buy it,” Estridge said Saturday during the Raleigh Children’s Business Fair. “It’s a pretty good business.” She said she’d love to work in a bakery when she becomes older, but isn’t sure if doing so would provide her enough income.

Estridge’s business was good enough to win the Best Business Potential prize at the fair.

The Raleigh Children’s Business Fair, co-sponsored by the John William Pope Foundation and the John Locke Foundation, was held at The Commons at North Hills to promote entrepreneurship.

Pope Foundation Vice President Joyce Pope said the fair was “a great way for children to learn in a safe environment with the support of our community.”

Fair organizer Kayla Nguyen said 63 children between the ages of 7 and 14 participated in the fair, operating businesses at 43 booths on a hot September day.

“We’re definitely very much behind entrepreneurship,” Nguyen said. “They say teach a man to fish and you can feed him for life.”

Nguyen said the fair helps kids learn things like responsibility, hard work, and how to interact with other people.

“The kids have been incredible,” Nguyen said. “They have exceeded all of our expectations. It’s one thing to read about their business on paper but to see them come to life has been amazing.”

“They are very articulate; They are much better prepared for life than I was at 7,” Nguyen continued. “We definitely hope this inspires some kids to be entrepreneurs. Even if not every kid becomes an entrepreneur, there are so many things you can learn from entrepreneurship like you’ll learn how to take initiative. You’ll learn creative thinking, how to problem solve, how to speak up for yourself when you have an idea.”

Nguyen added, “A lot of lessons learned by the children can translate to the classroom or in future jobs.”

Cary’s Irelynn Schmid, 14, has two businesses. She has Irelynn’s Fun Face Designs face-painting business and Great Paws of Fire, which sells the dog treats  she makes to raise money for the SPCA. “I have two taste-testers at home,” she said of her dogs. Schmid’s businesses garnered the Customer Service award at the fair.

Ten-year-old Eva Haralambakis of Raielgh and her 7-year-old brother George own Bubble Gum Buddies. The business sells bubble gum machines and Webkinz. Webkinz are stuffed animals containing a code that allows their owners to play with their virtual animal online.

“It sounded really fun to make your own product and sell it,” Eva said. Bubble Gum Buddies won the Shoppers Choice award, voted by fair attendees.

Monster Jars! won the Most Original Business Idea and Grow Green Essentials: Green Solutions for Green Kids received the Best Presentation award.

Nguyen said there are plans to make the fair an annual event. “We really want to grow it in the Raleigh community,” she said. “There are a bunch of [similar] fairs popping up all over the country. We would love for ours to be one of the biggest. We’ve got big goals for it. I’m excited to see it expand.”