Here, we meet a few kids who have made their passions “work” for them. They’ve turned things they love — creating art, baking cupcakes and giving a dog a bone — into moneymaking opportunities.
A budding CEO
Brett Burch says a kid can do anything if he puts his mind to it. What has he put his mind to? Selling his artwork — on mugs, ties and T-shirts — to make money for college. He calls his online boutique Brett’s Trove.
“I guess you could say my art is like cartoonish and fun,” Brett says. He gives the artwork on his items for sale such names as “Huh?” “Whoa!” or “Really?”
In addition to saving money for college, he donates a portion of the money he earns to charity. He also donates merchandise to the annual fundraising auction at Hyde-Addison Elementary School in Northwest Washington, where he is in the fourth grade.
What’s the hardest part about running a business while juggling homework? Quality control. (Brett works with the online company Zazzle to turn his designs into clothing, accessories and gifts.) “Once, a tie came back with the art printed sideways,” he says. “I like everything to be just right.”
This month, Brett’s busy getting ready for DC Fashion Week. Models will wear his ties Thursday evening.
“I love being able to show my art,” says the 9-year-old CEO (that’s chief executive officer, or the person who’s in charge). “The ties are my best seller. Plus, I want to be famous.”
Check out Brett’s online boutique at www.zazzle.com/brettstrove. (Always ask a parent before going online.)
Cupcakes for Literacy
At Krissa Hillman’s school book fair last year, the girl from Savage, Maryland, found a glossy dessert cookbook that she loved. “I begged my mom to get me that book, but it cost a lot,” says 11-year old Krissa, who loves to read and bake. “My mom said, ‘I’ll get it for you, but only if you promise to use it.’ ”
Krissa made good on the promise. She came up with an idea to make and sell cupcakes and use the money to support literacy projects. She called her idea Cupcakes for Literacy, rounded up a few friends and got busy.
At their first sale, Krissa and her friends sold 150 cupcakes. She donated the money they made ($258) to the library at her school, Bollman Bridge Elementary. Since then, Cupcakes for Literacy has sold hundreds of cupcakes at a local community center and farmers markets.
In May, Krissa flew to Nebraska to present her business plan to billionaire investor Warren Buffett after her project was selected as a finalist out of 4,000 entries in a contest.
Making loads of cupcakes involves a lot more than just baking the cakes, mixing the frosting and decorating with smiley faces, stars and hearts. Krissa and her friends, who are now middle-schoolers, manage supplies, handle the cash they bring in and market the product.
“You can’t just stand behind the table,” she says. “You have to shout it out to make sure people notice that you’re selling cupcakes.”
If there are any cupcakes left over after a sale, “there’s happiness all around because we get to eat them,” Krissa says.
Check out Cupcakes for Literacy at www.storytimewithkrissa.com.
Working like dogs
Miles Carr loves dogs. Last year, when his fifth-grade class started a community service project, the Kensington boy had a brainstorm: Why not make dog treats and sell them? He and his friend and classmate Matt Shingleton, from Bethesda, put their heads together.
“First we came up with a name,” says Miles, 11. “I came up with the name ‘Sweetie Bones Made With Love.’ ” The boys researched recipes, bought supplies, made dough, then cut it into round and heart-shaped dog treats using cookie cutters.
“It was a long shot making treats and knocking on doors to sell them,” Miles says. “We knew it might not work, and we were nervous. But then we were so excited when we sold our first bag.”
These days, when the two sixth-graders get together on the weekends, they make different flavors of treats, including cheese-peanut-butter-chicken (Miles’s idea) and meat-lover’s (Matt’s idea).
“We’re coming up with another flavor called ‘Thanksgiving,’ ” Miles says. “Pumpkin is good for older dogs, and all dogs love turkey.”
Matt’s dog, Agent, often serves as a taste tester. “He loves the beef flavor the best,” Matt says.
They sell bags of treats (decorated with handmade labels and ribbon) to friends and neighbors for about $3 a bag, or $15 for a whole batch. Matt has big dreams for the business.
“I was hoping we could start our own small shop in Maryland and then spread worldwide,” he said.
For now, Matt and Miles are saving their earnings to make a donation to a local animal shelter.
“I love the faces on the dogs when we give them a treat,” Miles says. “It makes you feel really good.”