Whether it’s trying a new sport, learning to play an instrument, or trying to master a new hobby, the skills learned when you’re young often help set a trajectory for life. future and even careers.
Back in August, when Brookfield moms Ann Heinl and Phyllis Kastle were discussing ways to give kids the chance to turn their passions into avenues of entrepreneurship, they agreed to find a way to make it happen.
“At Brook Park School, they did a project in fourth grade where they had to create a commercial market, and we thought, ‘Why not try this on a larger scale? ‘” Kastle said.
So, in tandem with other members of the Brookfield Women’s Club, Heinl and Kastle launched the Young Entrepreneur Marketplace on Nov. 6, aimed at giving children in grades 4 through 12 the chance to hone a hobby and develop make it a learning lesson on civics, economics and self-confidence.
At the market, 45 children from Brookfield, LaGrange Park, Riverside, Westchester and Berwyn set up shop at The Compassion Factory, 9210 Broadway Ave., with offerings ranging from jewelry, crochet items, bakery, artwork and even a landscaping company.
“We know kids are creative and can make things, but they don’t necessarily have a way to sell their things — they don’t have an Etsy shop or other opportunities,” Heinl said. “When we proposed [the idea] at the Women’s Club, people got excited because of the community aspect and the fact that you can see the impact on the kids.
As school got underway this fall, Heinl and Kastle issued a call for participants, contacting area schools and announcing the opportunity for children to enter, working alone or with a partner to sell a good or service. .
“We had a philosophy that we wanted this to be a kid-run business,” Heinl said, “but that being said, we know kids need the help and support of their parents. We had a meeting ahead of time so families could see space and logistics, and we gave them tip sheets on how to price things, cost supplies, and encouraged kids to look at Etsy and other craft fairs and determining what to charge.
The women set up a nominal $10 entry fee so that, in their own words, the children have an investment in this opportunity. The Women’s Club also offered a mentorship opportunity during the bidding process, providing advice and assistance on table set-up, pricing, and stock assessment questions.
With merchandise priced between $1 and $5 for smaller items and $10 and $20 for larger ones, the kids practiced marketing pitches, interacted with new people, and managed business transactions.
Nine-year-old Beatrix Duner from Brookfield, who started making her own tie-dye clothes and accessories over the summer, said the decision to participate in the youth market was a no-brainer.
“My mom attends Brookfield Farmers Market, and I also started selling my bags there and found it really fun, so I wanted to see how I would sell myself,” she said. “I saw a lot of people I already knew and also met some new people.”
Caroline Busch, 14, who started making her own polymer clay earrings over the summer, also jumped at the chance to learn more about consumer economics.
“I heard about the event through a friend and thought it would be a really good idea,” the Brookfield resident said. “I’ve sold over half of my inventory, and I think programs like this are super important because you can connect with people in your community and learn how to be a good entrepreneur at a young age. “
And for Alma Mata, an 11-year-old Brookfield resident, the market was a good opportunity to not only show off her skills, but also come out of her shell.
“I met a lot of new people and it definitely teaches me social skills – I was very shy,” said Mata, whose sale consisted of Christmas decorations, hot chocolate bombs and other novelties. handmade chocolate.
Both Heinl and Kastle said that based on the positive reception from attendees and buyers, they hope to revive the market next year.
“Giving kids the chance to figure out an idea, put in the work, have a game plan, and see it as a success in real life means a lot, especially when the community comes together,” Kastle said. . “It was fun watching the kids set goals, work towards those goals, and achieve them.”