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The Grown-Up Wisdom Of 8 Kid Entrepreneurs

the-grown-up-wisdom-of-8-kid-entrepreneurs

Endless free time, no responsibilities—ahh, to be young again. But wait. Kids today have been raised by the internet, wise to worldly issues beyond their years. They are concerned about the future and the kind of planet that will be left for them.

All eyes are on Gen Z and their coming-of-age Gen Alpha siblings. They are the future David Hoggs and Greta Thunbergs, and they are ready to take matters into their own hands. Some kids are even getting a head start.

Between soccer practice, schoolwork, and driving lessons, there are some kids who also run successful businesses, donating time and profits to helping others, and speaking up about causes close to their hearts.

Here, kid entrepreneurs share some of their favorite things—from sloths and STEM to bubble baths and beagles—and what it’s like being the boss of their own business.

Getting started as a kid entrepreneur

Illustration of a kid rolling out a yoga mat that looks like a roadKids with entrepreneurial dreams can get their start (with an adult’s help) before they’ve even hit middle school. While a lemonade stand is the quintessential first foray into entrepreneurship, technology has made it possible for young children to run different types of businesses.

Young people can invent products to solve world problems, sell handmade goods through an online store, or offer door-to-door neighborhood services. There’s a business idea for every kid’s personality.

Kids who struggle to learn in a typical classroom environment can learn life and business skills like managing money and speaking to the public. Parents can encourage kids to start their own business to help them gain confidence, build their résumés, and earn money for college.

24 business ideas for kids ?Learn how your kids can start a company before graduation. Encourage your young makers, creators, and inventors to cash in on their talents and learn valuable skills.

Get the list

Meet 8 inspiring kid entrepreneurs

Illustration of a kid blowing bubbles that are shaped like objects and iconsExplore the lives of eight ordinary kids with not-so-ordinary hobbies. Find out how they made their dreams a reality and, with the help of the adults who believed in them, started their own businesses.

1. Riley Kinnane-Petersen, age 13

When Riley developed an interest in jewelry and dress-up, her two dads scrambled to gather cast-off necklaces from friends and family. Riley then dismantled these hand-me-downs to make her own designs—and sold them at front yard lemonade stands.

Portrait of child entrepreneur Riley Kinnane-Petersen

Seven years later, those re-worked necklaces are the basis for Gunner & Lux, a business that counts Nordstrom and J.Crew among its high-profile customers. The dad- and daughter-run store promotes girl power, too, through kids’ t-shirts with slogans like “All of my heroes are women” and “My dad is a feminist.”

Riley on future goals: “When I grow up, I want to continue my business. But if not, then I might become a chemist. Or a vet.”

Meet Riley

2. Oliver “Ollie” Fequiere, age 9

Ollie relies a lot on Mom and Dad to help him run his bath and storytime business, Fizzies & Fables. But don’t be fooled by his age—he’s involved in everything from ideation to product testing. When he’s not playing guitar or Minecraft, Ollie likes to help with making and wrapping bath fizzies. He’s not sure what he wants to be when he grows up, but he’s building an impressive résumé.

Ollie on relatable heroes: “I watched the Black Spider-Man in Into the Spider-Verse—I have seen it many times. He is brown, and he lives in New York. And I have the Spider-Man costume too. We have a lot of things in common.”

Meet Ollie

3. Jahkil Jackson, age 15

Jahkil is an active kid who loves basketball and tap dancing, but his empathy muscle is the one that gets the most flexing. At just 15 years old, he already has several years under his belt. When he was just five, he started Project I Am, an organization that provides the necessities of life to his local homeless community.

Portrait of teen entrepreneur Jakhil JacksonIf that wasn’t impressive enough, Jahkil is also a published author, runs an online merch store, and loves being a motivational speaker at events across the country. He even once met President Obama.

Jahkil on getting started: “I wasn’t really scared. I actually had a lot of support, and I was all pumped to do it. I was like this super happy, energetic kid. Mom will probably disagree.”

Meet Jakhil

4. Piper Williams, age 11

When Piper Williams was four, she didn’t like wearing underwear made for girls, preferring her brother’s boxers instead. That’s when she had an idea: start a clothing line and sell boxer shorts for girls. With the help of her older brother, mom, and dad, Piper’s idea bloomed into My Pipers, a business that keeps the whole family busy.

Piper on her brand’s biggest fans: “A lot of kids think it’s really cool, and we have teachers who have our hoodies. And a lot of our friends wear our boxer shorts.”

Meet Piper

5. Lily Harper, age 9

One of the youngest kids on this list, Lily Harper started her business after her mother Chloe pulled her out of school during the pandemic. Traditional home-schooling proved difficult for her, and Chloe decided to help Lily start a makeshift business. When that business found an online community and actual customers, Lily and mom decided to upgrade from playing store to running a store.

Portrait of child entrepreneur Lily HarperLily Lou’s Aromas is an online shop selling products sprung from Lily’s own imagination—candles and scents in all her favorite colors. While the brand has grown and Lily has a team of helpers, she’s still calling all the shots.

Lily on the future of her company: “My next big goal for my business is to own a warehouse and be in big stores!”

Meet Lily

6. Sophia Fairweather, age 14

Sophia is a tireless advocate for youth entrepreneurship. The sixth grader is invited to speak at events internationally and, with her dad’s help, is lobbying economic development groups to create more grants and opportunities for young entrepreneurs.

Sophia developed the entrepreneur bug at just five years old when she approached her dad with an idea: a hook-and-loop product that holds your phone in place. FunCro was just the first of many inventions for this STEM-loving kid. When she’s not working on her business, Sophia loves swimming, drawing, and devouring episodes of Stargate.

Sophia on the benefits of being a kid entrepreneur: “The best part is meeting new people. I like presenting, I like traveling. Sometimes I find it stressful and tiring, but it’s kind of cool to travel. Oh, also bragging to my brother. I love that.”

Meet Sophia

7. Austin Gill, age 11

When Austin Gill and his two brothers, Collin and Ryan, approached their parents for money to buy Nerf Blasters and a PlayStation, they were given a choice: get a job or start a business. They chose the latter. Mom—Celena, a small business owner and former teacher who home-schools her sons—saw the business as an opportunity for the boys to learn a series of lessons.

The three brothers behind Freres Branchiaux sit on a couch laughingThey decided to handmake and sell candles, and Frères Branchiaux was born. In addition to daily math and reading tutorials, they’re also learning about supply chain, customer service, and marketing. Frères Branchiaux has grown alongside the boys (Collin is now in college), and the products are now carried by the likes of Whole Foods and Macy’s.

Austin on his plans for the future: “I want to be a basketball player and a maker.”

Meet Austin

8. Merritt Perlyn, age 10

In the world of Merritt Perlyn and his brother Ethan, surfing is life. But in between catching waves, shooting hoops, and keeping up with schoolwork, the two are also seasoned entrepreneurs. Their surf-inspired company, Crepic, now sells its branded hats and accessories online and in several retail stores.

Merritt on how they started the business: “We told our parents the idea, then they loaned us some money, and then we learned about Shopify. Then we built our webpage from scratch.”

Meet Merritt

The little entrepreneurs of the future

Illustration of a child climbing into the cloudsKid entrepreneurs see the world through fresh eyes, unencumbered by adult worries and responsibilities. But don’t underestimate them. Their perspectives, curiosity, and energy are bringing amazing ideas to life.

Parents who encourage their kids to start their own business at a young age enable them to get a head start on life. Whether they aspire to land a deal on Shark Tank or take their designs to New York Fashion Week, it’s never too early to get started in entrepreneurship. Today’s lemonade stand could be tomorrow’s Pulitzer.

Illustrations by João Fazenda

Shopify Kids Business Starter Kit

shopify-business-starter-kit-for-kids We've created a free 44-page activity book of engaging activities and exercises designed to lead children through the journey of imagining and developing a business idea.

Parents, get your free kit

Kid entrepreneur FAQ

What kind of business can a 12-year-old start?

With a parent’s help, 12-year-olds can start many types of businesses. Whether it’s creating handmade goods to sell, launching a non-profit to fight climate change, or starting an entertainment business for special events, kids can take advantage of today’s technology to bring almost any idea to life.

Who are some child entrepreneurs?

Some well known entrepreneurs who started their businesses when they were children include 19-year-old Mikaila Ulmer of Me & the Bees Lemonade and Moziah Bridges, the 14-year-old founder of Mo’s Bows, a brand selling bespoke bow ties.

How can a young entrepreneur start a business?

Every entrepreneur finds their start with an idea. Kids can act on that idea with parental guidance to set up a website, manage social profiles, and get a bank account. While children under 18 will need an adult to sign up for many services or enter into contracts, kids can get involved in different aspects of a business, from product development to customer service.

 

This originally appeared on Shopify and is made available here to cast a wider net of discovery.
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