My 8-year-old wants an Etsy shop: thoughts on raising young entrepreneurs

My 8-year-old wants an Etsy shop: thoughts on raising young entrepreneurs

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First she wanted a blog. Now she wants an Etsy shop.

This is nothing new. Sarah’s been making things for as long as I can remember, and she’s wanted an Etsy shop since the day she discovered it.

She loves to create: she knits, she sews, she crafts. She designs cards and hair accessories and address books. And most recently, purses.

I think they’re pretty cute.

In between the creating, she sketches business plans and roughs out sales flyers. She makes numbered lists of potential customers and future products. She calculates her income and her expenditures. (She wants to spend half her income on more supplies and send half to Ethiopia.)

We’ve never encouraged her in any of this; it’s just what she does. Sarah has the crafty gene and the entrepreneurial spirit. It’s a delight to see her in action–although it has created a few dilemmas. (And I’m not even talking about the mess.)

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I was the young entrepreneur once. I loved to make things and I wanted to go into business. My most successful ventures were a gift shop in my bedroom (among other odds and ends, I sold used books, which I’m sure surprises exactly no one), and a tiny bracelet business.

I sold my bracelets to my friends at school, and once I exhausted that market, I begged my mom to drive me to local boutiques to sell them–and she did. (Looking back, that’s what surprises me the most.)

But somewhere along the way, I lost that path. I reached a point where making things for market just wasn’t fun anymore, and selling them was no longer an inviting challenge–it was just plain hard. I don’t know if I succumbed to my own perfectionistic instincts, or if that’s a normal path kids follow. I just know I quit.

I still made my own creations and sewed my own clothes, but I didn’t create as much as I did before, and by the time I hit my teens I never dreamed of selling anything (even though people asked). I’d decided that wasn’t for me.

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So what does that mean for my own daughter? How do I encourage–rather than squelch–her creativity and entrepreneurial instincts?

Her products aren’t exactly Etsy quality right now, but something tells me my job as her mom is not to help her improve her products–it’s to fuel her love of creating. I’m afraid that tips on bettering her goods might have the opposite effect.

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And Will and I are trying to determine the right amount of encouragement for her entrepreneurial instincts. We obviously don’t want to put the kibosh on her business plans, but she’s not ready to run an Etsy shop. What’s the right amount of feedback? What direction should we (gently, gently) guide her in?

Honestly, I’m not comfortable with the thought of her shaking down the neighbor girls for cash (even though we’re just talking about a few dimes, and even though that’s exactly what I did as a kid).

My husband disagrees. A recent conversation went like this:

Will: Maybe she should drop [one of those adorable wallets] in her gym bag to take to dance. Those kids will want to buy one. 

Me: {Laughs}

Will: I’m serious!

We’re thinking about letting her sell her wares at our next extended family gathering (after giving the adults sufficient warning). We’re encouraging her idea to give away handmade gifts for Christmas and birthdays. And we’re only giving feedback when requested.

I never thought parenting would be easy, but I can tell you this: these are not the mothering challenges I thought I’d be encountering with my 8-year-old.

Do you have any  young entrepreneurs in your life (or were you one yourself)? All tips welcome in comments!

Help! My 8-year-old wants an Etsy shop: thoughts on raising young entrepreneurs.

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78 comments

  1. I just love that you have the wisdom to hold back the feedback. I think I’d be tempted to help her improve the products and forget the part about encouraging her love of creating. She’s blessed to have a mom with your heart!

    When I was younger, I sold my old junk to my younger sister and then use the proceeds to buy books. According to her, there was coercion involved. She’s probably right. I was a little mercenary back then.

  2. Jillian Kay says:

    My son (5) loves to build and design buildings. So far he hasn’t tried to sell anything, but I can see that coming. He is constantly dismantling my landscaping in the back yard so he can use the materials to build. And last time we stayed at a hotel he got up early in the morning so he could re-design the layout of the building. Then he insisted on putting his redesign in an envelope and handing it to the front desk. We too are trying to strike a balance between encouraging him (I am amazed at the attention span he has for his designs) and getting him to stop building 3 foot brick structures on the grass.

  3. Since I don’t have children yet take my comment for what it’s worth, but as someone who is starting entrepreneurial ventures now, I wish I’d have experience with this while growing up. I think learning that business is difficult and you’ll have to persevere is an important lesson. Even when you love what you’re creating it’s not all going to be fun. Obviously your daughter is only 8 so she doesn’t need to learn this lesson all at once but maybe encouraging her to take some risks (where you even might have to let her fail!) would be important as she gets older. (I’m think of Brene Brown’s example in Daring Greatly and letting her daughter “fail” during the swim meet.) Like you said, however, encouraging her creativity in the midst of this is key, and will make her “successes” (however that is measured) so exciting for her.

    • Anne says:

      I love that you bring up Brené Brown. I hadn’t mentally channeled her examples yet but I’m going to pick up Daring Greatly again and read through it with my 8-year-old (and Etsy!) in mind.

  4. Andrea says:

    My daughters decided to make and sell Christmas ornaments 2 years ago. They decided to donate all profits to World Vision and raised over $5,000. That taught them more than to just follow their dreams and be crafty. It might be a bug to plant in her head. The gift catalogs are fun for them to flip through.

  5. Angie says:

    This is such fun to read, because I have the exact same dilemma with my six year old daughter. She loves to see/craft/bake/garden and always want to sell her things, although, gifting is something she loves too. Last spring I helped her plant a pumpkin patch and them set up a tiny roadside pumpkin sale (a gaping hole in the market she noticed last year). It was such fun watching her tend them all year, and we got some good craft mileage making sale signs and decorating the table. She even sold a few pumpkins. We homeschool and it was a great hands on math project too. 😉

    She’s back at sewing now, and hasn’t discovered etsy shops yet, but I, too, struggle with the balance of encouragement, and helping her improve the skills that will allow her to follow through on her ideas… It’s tough to nurture her ideas and interests, but also helping her navigate…well… Reality? Ha! I’m so glad you wrote this, can’t wait to see what others write in!

    One last practical idea though- do you follow Kristin Rodgers on Instagram? I remember seeing her daughters take place in a handicraft faire with a group of friends. I think it was a pre-holiday thing that a group of homeschool families did together. It looked like a fun and relatively low matinance way to encourage budding entrepreneurs.

    • Anne says:

      I don’t follow Kristin, but I’m off to find her now. I could definitely handle a low-key handicraft fair, and Sarah could, too. That sounds like a great way to ease in gently.

      • Carat says:

        I was going to suggest a craft fair as well, it eliminates worries about shipping and returns and gives her an opportunity to get her stuff out there. Growing up our church did a craft bazaar every year before Christmas time and my mom would let me set up a table with a friend at it to sell our stuff.

  6. Shannon says:

    This is tough – its great to encourage creativity but I struggle so much when other children coerce my girls into giving up their pocket money for stuff they’ve cobbled together. If those wallets are examples of what your DD has made then I would feel differently, but my girls have come home with literal bags of rocks their friends sold “for charity.” We’ve had so many conversations about the value of their money and if they want to donate to charity that they can do it directly. Perhaps encouraging her to make gifts for her friends until there is an honest demand could be a middle ground approach to the situation.

  7. aimee says:

    Oh my…your daughter sounds just like mine and it doesn’t help my case that I actually run an etsy shop! I struggle with the same thing as far as wanting her to craft, create and not squelch that desire to make handmade things. She sees me making things all the time and knows that the majority of the time they are for customers. I struggle with wanting her to see me making things for gifts and not always for profit. Right now her struggle is linking creating with money. So, right now our conversation is ways to craft a good product and then possibly sell it to raise money for a cause and not money for just herself.
    Will be interested to follow your wisdom…

    • Anne says:

      I like that you’re focusing on crafting a good product as a starting point and taking it from there….

      And oh my goodness, your shop is darling–I love the embroidery and the quiet books!

  8. Amanda says:

    I read several months ago about a little boy (I think he was 4 or 5) who wanted to sell stuff on etsy. He made notecards and, later, something else like soap (I think). He wanted to donate the proceeds to charity. His mom helped him with navigating etsy and with the shipping. He did really well. I think it helped that she wrote on the etsy page that it was for a charitable cause. I also think it was smart that they didn’t try to make an ongoing business out of it but only a limited edition. That way, whenever he was interested enough to create a set of product he was able to sell but didn’t feel pressured to create when he wasn’t into it.

  9. Joslyn says:

    If it were my child I’d do it. I think that it’s a good way for her to learn how to make a living (or in this case, spending money) with what she loves to do. I think that it also has endless homeschool applications. You can teach her so much through starting her own business about the cost of doing business, how to manage her time and the money of a business. You could even open up the bank of mom and have her have a business account and a personal account and teach her the difference in how the finances should be kept and at what point she should take money out of her business for her own needs and wants. She would learn to buy materials for specific projects and to not overspend on materials that may not work out, but still have some money set aside for prototypes and design on paper before she buys things. If she had a customer complaint or a defect in a product, she’d learn a lot about diplomacy and choosing her words carefully as well as dealing with people who may not always be happy with something she’s emotionally connected to. The lessons are endless.

    I know kids that started things like this when they were young and they stuck with it and paid their own way through college or trade school or skipped higher education for an already thriving business. And if she does give up on it, or finds herself not enjoying it as you did, then that’s something she will learn from and she will know herself better. I wish I had done something like that when I was a kid, because I’m trying to start a business now after years of wasted time trying to be someone else’s employee when it was never going to fit my personality of lifestyle. If I could have learned that I love being my own boss sooner, I might not have wasted so much of my time, energy and money on a career that was never going to fit.

    • Anne says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Joslyn. And oddly, Almanzo Wilder and his animal ventures kept flashing through my mind while I was reading this! If you let them start young, they sure know a lot by their teen years…

  10. Athena says:

    I was the same as a kid, had a little shop in my bedroom where I would sell things to my younger brother! Even made little shelves to display things on. I would let her do it. It is a learning experience. Her purses look nice, they could also be “pencil or makeup pouches”. I have my own etsy shop, but actually get more sales through ebay (for handmade items, go figure!). Etsy has lower fees, only 20 cents to list an item, and a lower percentage charged for when an item sells. For $2, have her list 8 items and see how it goes.

  11. Randi says:

    I was like that when I was a kid! My dad encouraged me – and it was so much fun. I am so glad that he did, because without encouragement, I know I would have stopped. I was like that as a kid (and still am a little bit.) ONE WORD of encouragement and I’ll keep going for years, but nothing, and I’ll decide it’s not good enough. Here’s how my parents did it – hope it helps! I had a jewelry business and sold them for $3 each at school, but the best part was my mom helping me decide a ‘business name’ and printing them out on little blue notecards to put in the bags that the jewelry came in. It made me feel really professional. After that, I did a petsitting business, which eventually inspired me to want to follow veterinary science. My dad helped me post flyers all over the neighborhood. $5/hour or $5/pet. I’d walk dogs, give baths, clean cat litter, give meds. One time I made $70 off of guinea pigs that I took care of for 2 weeks. Not bad, I tell you. I don’t remember my parents ever telling me “that’s a great idea, Randi,” but they would physically get involved and drive me or show me how to use excel or give me suggestions on prices, and that was perfect. Later, my dad bought me a goat and let me raise it with 4H, even though I was 6 years younger than them. I did that for 3 years, selling the goat at the end of the year at show. When I realized that they go to slaughter, I couldn’t continue, but the experience really defined my younger years.

    • Randi says:

      Oh, My dad also had me save half of everything I made and put it in a CD so I couldn’t touch it. To this day, I always have allotments going to accounts that I can’t touch, and it’s really saved me from any financial troubles.

  12. Laura says:

    Kudos to your daughter! . . . . Kids today have to sell all sort of junk as fundraisers for school and for extra-curricular activities: wrapping paper, magazines, popcorn, girl scout cookies, you name it. I’d much rather buy something they actually make themselves! . . . . My siblings and I raised chickens, and I remember my parents driving us around a neighborhood so we could sell “fresh yard eggs” door to door. It seems so odd, thinking back, but we loved it!

    • Anne says:

      Good point: I forgot about all the fundraising junk kids are expected to do for schools and activities. Selling handmade purses and notecards seems angelic in comparison!

  13. Faigie says:

    Oh I was the ideal entrepreneur. In elementary school I discovered snoopy stickers at the mall and started selling them in school. I was real saavy though. I wanted kids to buy them so I figured out how to get them to…I sold ’em for LESS than I bought them.

  14. Victoria says:

    What about finding her a mentor? Maybe someone who has an etsy shop, or a local artist that sells her work? I’m sure some small retail stores in your area must sell handmade goods. And, maybe they could point you towards someone. This way, you’re showing her you take her seriously. And, someone else can provide honest, helpful feedback to improve her goods and prepare her for selling them. Also, what about a booth at a farmer’s market or local craft fair as a first step?

  15. Erin says:

    I have a seven-year-old daughter who often wants to set up “art sales” on the front yard. As an introvert, this MORTIFIES me. Luckily my husband is all in! (He’s the kid who bought a bag of Tootsie Roll pops at the grocery store, then sold them for .50 apiece on the bus ride home from school each day. Conveniently, .50 was the change kids would have if they bought lunch that day!) And one day someone gave my daughter $5 for one of her pastel works!

    What about finding your daughter a mentor? Is there anyone you know who actually does sell art/handwork? Is your daughter interested in hearing their feedback on her items, or finding out what goes into making a living from it? Or does she really just love the process of creating? The answer to that question is important. We know a lot of artists (my husband works for an animation studio), and one of our friends says there’s a difference between kids who love art, and kids who love art and are driven to learn about it and get better. Generally it’s the second ones who are able to do it for a living. And now that I’ve gotten completely off topic, I’ll sign off!

    • Anne says:

      You’re not the only one–my kids are all about selling things in the front yard! And it likewise drives this introverted mama batty. 🙂

      I never considered the mentor thing till I read these comments. Thanks for the tip!

  16. Deborah says:

    Tis is great! And I think you should totally let her hit up anyone she comes across. For dimes and quarters, it’s really no big deal. Tis happened in our neighborhood this summer. One kid had supplies to make bracelets. My boys spent all afternoon walking around selling them. They split the money. I have no idea the split, or if it was fair. We totally let the boys all work it out. And those they sold to, we’re really happy and actually “placed orders”. Three days later, half a dozen kids were out selling their own bracelets. It inspired a whole group of kids to do it and everyone bought from everyone.

    Also, I think kids like to spend their money. They like to make their own choices and count out their own money. That control of their own purchases is not something they have frequently.

    And speaking from someone who will be at your next family gather…..bring it on! My kids have allowance money burning a hole in their pocket and there is not much at Toys R Us you can get for three dollars!

    • Anne says:

      You’re not the only one–my kids are all about selling things in the front yard! And it likewise drives this introverted mama batty. 🙂

      I never considered the mentor thing till I read these comments. Thanks for the tip!

    • Anne says:

      When you put it like that I don’t freak out quite as much: dimes and quarters really aren’t a big deal. 🙂

      LOVE the bracelet story. And watch out for Thanksgiving! Or at least, bring your dimes and quarters. 🙂

  17. Jessica says:

    I think it’s really important for you to say yes. She may or may not decide to be an entrepreneur in the long run but it’s all the more likely she will not if you don’t support her now. While getting my MBA, we covered business case after business case of successful entrepreneurs who had learned so much from their “failed” attempts. I’m not super familiar with how to run an Etsy shop but it seems relatively straight forward and she sounds like a very smart and enterprising young lady who could figure it out. Please, please, please let her have this opportunity while she has no fear and doesn’t have to make a really hard decision between a guaranteed income and following her passions later in life. You could always say yes with caveats… ie, disclosing (as another reader posted above) that her proceeds are going to charity, maybe you would even want to post her age so people understand the potential quality of the products. (I say that because you mentioned her products aren’t Etsy quality but others have already said they want to buy!) I’ve also seen other Etsy sellers post that there are so many of a product available, “limited addition” and/or to contact them if they had any special details about their order (time needed, color requested, etc.). Love the idea of getting her an Etsy mentor as well. Brilliant!

    Hoping I am lucky enough to have the same dilemma’s with my daughter when she is older. ; ) Best of luck to you both!

  18. Holly says:

    Wait, why can’t you give her honest feedback to improve her items?? Obviously don’t tear her apart but in between compliments, direct her to an area to improve. Learning how to receive constructive criticsm and DO something about it is a great skill to learn.

    • Anne says:

      She’s just not interested in the feedback, and since she’s 8, I’m not pushing it–at least not when it comes to crafting! She thinks the fun is in the creating, not in the perfecting. Although you are so right about receiving constructive criticism–and implementing it.

  19. elizabethe says:

    Hi there, I came here from the Beyond the to do list podcast, but I’ve seen links to you on other pages as well.

    I agree with most of the others here. Let her start the business, help her find a mentor who does it and can talk about everything that’s required. Any entrepreneur will tell you that you have to fail at a business many many times and when better to do that than when there are no stakes whatsoever rather than when she might actually depend on an income. Let the market teach her whether her products are good enough. I’m actually moving to the view that it should be required education for every child to try to do a business at some point before getting a “real” job. Even if you decide that’s not for you, you’ve learned valuable things.

    Also I object to this idea that is sort of floating around underneath this discussion that creativity is somehow lessened if it’s done for profit. The myth of the “disinterested” artist is itself a cultural construct that serves a particular narrative about the messages art is properly supposed to convey (maybe a belief that only art that is “subversive” is true art, therefore creative things that large amounts of people will pay for aren’t “real” art).

    In truth all artists are beholden to someone’s opinion/financial backing — all artists are in a dialogue with their society and culture and getting paid for work or being funded somehow.

    • Anne says:

      Hi Elizabeth,

      You’re so right about the failure aspect! I think that is so important–for kids and adults–but it just never occurred to me to see the value in a (potentially) failed Etsy business. It seems so obvious now that you all have pointed it out!

  20. Jennifer H says:

    Lots of good ideas on here – gifting, selling for charity. I am thinking that maybe the homeschool curriculum fair in May or June might be a good goal to plan for. Then after that, if you feel ready, you might want to help her plan for a fall/Christmas bazaar. I know a woman with 10 year old twins, and they recently went into a business and have made some money. I could see if she would be willing to call you and give some advice?

    • Anne says:

      I don’t know about the homeschool curriculum fair. Tell me more? And yes, I’d love to chat with your friend, the mom of twins. Thanks for making the connection!

  21. Jessica says:

    I can distinctly remember writing a ‘newspaper’ for our country ‘neighborhood.’ I think we maybe had two issues. Possibly just one. I printed it off on the ole’ dot matrix printer. Beeeep beep beeeeeep. I think I drew pictures too? I delivered it to the neighbors. I sorta cringe at remembering this but it makes me smile too. My co-hort in this undertaking is was a childhood friend who is now a rather successful blogger and home decorator. I find that to be a fun coincidence.

  22. Sarah says:

    I don’t know. I think you should let her sell to some form of the public. Not just family. LIke a church bazaar? Or on a sidewalk outside a church event? Just because I think that spirit only thrives when you feel like you are OUT THERE – now that doesn’t have to be out there as in Etsy but I think it should be a bit more than family.

    But who the heck knows!

  23. Beth Payer says:

    I love that you’re raising this topic! My son, now 15, has had his own DJ business since he was 8. It started with his fascination with sound systems, so he asked for a $200 PA system from us and his grandparents for his 8th birthday. Soon after, he was asked to play music at a birthday party and then, a school picnic. Next, we ordered a banner to go on the front of his table and he named his business “Kid DJ.” It has all flowed from there. He is now on his third sound system, second website (www.kiddjrocks.com) and has a thriving business as a high school sophomore. At this point he has DJ’d block parties, 5Ks, school dances, bar and bat mitzvahs, high school pep rallies and events, office parties, countless birthday parties, and community fundraisers (for which he has donated his services on many occasions). This experience has taught him so much. I did not imagine this outcome from just a bit of encouragement years ago!

    Every day my son is checking email and communicating with people in the community regarding plans and details. He can hold an intelligent conversation on the phone and can look people in the eye. He has learned the importance of staying “thank you” and of asking for feedback. He has learned how to confirm details, develop systems, and the importance of a backup plan. He has learned that sometimes you have to work when you don’t feel like it. He can speak with confidence into a microphone and say “no” to people who request music that’s not appropriate for the age group present (even if those people are adults!).

    He has also learned valuable lessons from the two times when things have gone wrong. Once he was late because he and the client had confusion regarding the start time via text messages — so he hustled to set up and apologized (offering a big discount) — and then developed an email form for capturing all of the details of future events in one place, and vowed never to coordinate via text again. Another time he accidentally double booked two elementary school dances on the same night. After an initial freak-out he hired and trained another trustworthy student, had another “Kid DJ” T shirt printed, and borrowed gear to create a second sound system. He explained to his more familiar client what had happened — and assured them that a well-trained and fun replacement would be there, along with my husband (at a discounted price). It all worked out just fine. With parental guidance, he saw how to turn an “emergency” into an OK situation — plus, he then had a backup person or partner in the event that he is sick or wants help for larger jobs. The list of lessons goes on and on….

    Certainly, a DJ business is not like an Etsy shop — but they both offer lessons about communication, responsibility, problem solving, and responsibility. These lessons are invaluable. I will say that I think that the face-to-face aspect of business holds some of the most valuable lessons for kids. A booth at a craft fair, for example, might be another way to go for your daughter that reinforces the valuable interpersonal skills that come from business (eye contact, shaking hands, answering questions, etc.). It would also be a nice testing ground to see if your she enjoys selling her lovely things in the way that she imagines she will. I also expect that she would enjoy designing a booth and making it look like “her.”

    Our son has grown into his business with our help or support. It is not reasonable to think that an 8 year old — or even a 10 year old — can run their own business independently. But, I think that any parent who is guiding a child in doing so is offering a very special opportunity. Keys to success: discuss how much family time the business may take (my husband and I do say “no” to DJ jobs if there have been too many or it’s on a holiday), initial start-up costs or possibly a loan, talk about money in advance (our son puts 30% into the bank and also pays taxes), help them set up systems for tracking deadlines, etc., check in with them to see if the systems are working, and help them problem solve and challenges as opportunities. Lastly, celebrate the fact that this is a kid running this business — not a mini adult. This should be fun!

    Best to you and your creative daughter in pursuing her interests. Should you decide to go down this path with her, you have some incredible lessons and surprises in store!

      • Anne says:

        Beth, what an amazing story! You must be awfully proud of your kid dj. (His website is terrific!)

        Thanks so much for sharing his story here. My child is 8, and I really appreciated hearing what years 8-15 looked like for your son.

        Please wish him well for me!

  24. 'Becca says:

    My 8-year-old has been organizing the kids at church (3-8 years old) to set up something at coffee hour each week: art exhibit, science experiment seeking participants, and most recently selling things. A lady who downsized homes brought them a lot of her old stuff to sell. They divide some of the cash among themselves (as someone commented above, we let them work out what they think is fair) and put the rest in the donation bucket that supports fair-trade coffee–because the regular collection plate is not available at coffee hour. (My son knows what fair trade is about; the others may be thinking of it as just a donation to the church, which is fine.)

    Last week I saw some surprising numbers in the newspaper about sales on Etsy and read them aloud to my partner. Our son asked what Etsy is, and as I explained I could see the wheels turning. “Can *I* sell my things there? I could sell cardboard knives like I made for Halloween….” I told him you have to be at least 18 to sell things online. I don’t know if this is true, but at this age I’d rather he do his selling in person, make change with real money, build relationships, etc.

    After several amateur sales efforts (and Girl Scout cookies!), I published my own magazine when I was 11-16 years old. I had been making occasional issues of this magazine by hand since I was 4 but just let my family look at them, then put them on my shelf. I wrote letters to all my relatives and pen-pals offering subscriptions at 25c a year and intending to make monthly issues. I quickly switched to bi-monthly! At the end of the first year, when my parents saw I was seriously doing this, they told me I needed to buy my own stamps and envelopes, and to print one copy on their computer and then pay for photocopying, so I raised rates accordingly. I think I peaked at about 25 subscribers. It was very self-motivated, a lot of fun, and good practice of many skills. Some of my parents’ friends who subscribed still mention it every time I see them. I must say it’s a lot easier “publishing” on the Web, though!!!

  25. MaryJane says:

    When I was about her age, maybe a year or two older, I made hair bows to sell. Mom actually jumped in with me, teaching me different wire-wrapping techniques and such. We sold them at craft booths at school fairs and local charity events.

  26. Elizabeth says:

    Your daughter is innovative *and* business savvy. Not everyone has that combo, so she’s already off to a good start!

    Selling to her friends is a good idea (the wallet in the dance bag – I like it), but if you’re not ok with that, there are other avenues. What if there was a space below your ads linking to her newly established Etsy shop? From what I gather, Etsy’s a place where you need to have a good deal of exposure because it’s saturated with sellers. Or maybe next time you do a fashion related post on your blog, one of the pictures could be of you modeling with the purse (link back to her Etsy shop) so your readers have a chance to buy. Or you could throw up a landing page link on MMD, skip Etsy for the time being, and take orders that way?

  27. Rebecca says:

    That girl has some serious chutzpah. Why not encourage her to dream bigger and create an etsy-like outlet for herself and other kids’ craft projects, just on a smaller scale? I bet if 50% of the profits were going to charity you’d have a lot of people interested in buying, knowing they would be receiving “kid quality” items.

    • Anne says:

      I love that you used the word chutzpah. (And yes, she certainly does.) That’s such an interesting channel you’ve suggested. I’ll mention that to my daughter when we’re scheming and dreaming this weekend (and every weekend, it’s what she likes to do. 🙂 )

  28. Katie says:

    I think you will find this boy’s story inspiring: http://louisbarnettchocolates.com/Louis_Story/

    I used to sell things to my friends in school as a child – I generally had more ideas than products though! I sold stickers in the school library at break times and kids I didn’t even know would come buy them. No coercion or distance selling involved 🙂 I think I would be keener on real-life sales than etsy at this point though.

  29. Anne, I came across this article while researching young Etsy Sellers. I am planning a course to teach young people, especially girls how to create a business from their hobbies. As the mother of an adult son ( a creative entrepreneur who loves his work and life) , a craft biz coach and self-employment proponent, I found your take on this interesting. I completely agree with you about not helping your daughter improve her craft (unless she acts you to on her own). However, I agree with your hubby on the allowing her to go with her desire to sell her craft. Here’s why: I find so many people, particularly women, have this long-held belief that it is wrong to get paid for their gifts. They are comfortable receiving a paycheck but their issues around getting paid to do what they love and what comes naturally. I say if Sarah wants to try her hand at selling her creations, allow her to go for it under supervision and encourage her to give a portion to a good cause. It will teach her that her creative gift is valued and she won’t dismiss it as impractical.

  30. Erin says:

    I don’t know about the kids aspect of things, but what about setting up a Facebook page for her business and letting her sell on there. You could control who sees it so it wouldn’t be as public as etsy.

    Also etsy has gone downhill since they now allow manufacturers to sell. It makes it harder and more complicated for artisans to market their wares.

  31. Vanessa says:

    I think you should encourage as much as possible, and support her goals as much as is financially feasible for you to do so. It sounds like you’re worried about her self-esteem and how she will cope if things do not go well, which is totally valid. But that’s where you’ll come in to give her pep talks on perseverance. Constructive criticism and crafting a pretty product is good, but learning to roll with the punches and get gritty is the more valuable lesson here.

    And who knows? You might not need to teach her that at all! Maybe her first venture will take off like a rocket. Crazier things have happened!

  32. Erin says:

    Hi! I just discovered your blog by accident, so I’m joining the discussion a little late. I’m so curious to know what came of this topic! Did your daughter open her etsy shop? One fun idea could be to help her connect with like-minded friends and set up a holiday fair at your local community center, church, etc. You could even give her the option to donate a part of the proceeds to a charity of choice.

    On a side note, my twin sister and I were those kids who crafted constantly, set up lemonade stands, sold hand made crafts at our garage sales and yes, got our mom to drive us around to local boutiques to sell our jewelry when we were 12. Today, my sister and I work full time hand crafting jewelry and wedding accessories!

    • Anne says:

      She didn’t open an Etsy shop. Lately she’s been baking more than crafting. 🙂 It sounds like you had a fun childhood and that it serves you well now.

  33. My 7 year old has had a business since he was 5 and it has been awesome! We happen to live on 57th bet 8/9 in NYC.. a prime location for any store front! What happened was when he was 5 I asked him to draw a few pix for our Christmas card. They were such great designs, I copied them at Kinkos and glued them on to expensive Italian card stock and used them. I used to work at Kate’s paperie, a premiere stationary store and I knew this whimsical cards were so good and I knew that the quality was just as good as what was in the store. So I made an offer to Tristan. I asked if he would like to earn his own money and told him I would help him with production and he could take a little table on our street and sell his cards. He has been doing this around each major holiday since he was 5 (now he is 7) and he has been able to save over 3000.00 !!!! He has a goal of investing 1000 a year (a financial advisor told him if a 5 year old invest 1000 a year the rest of his life, by the time he is 65 he will have 10 million dollars. On his own he probably spends 10% of what he earns, saves 80% and on his own he made a jar for “community” where a portion of his money goes for charity. It has been such a positive experience for him and for us. I will never give him an allowance now. He looks at a toy and instantly asks how many cards would I need to sell to buy this? And we do the math and then he gets to work! As he gets older, I know the ways of earning money will change..this summer he will sell figs from the road on my parents farm, and will work at my dad’s office being an office boy sharpening pencils or emptying trash…not all jobs will be as lucrative as selling his art ( he makes about 100 an hour out on our street! more than I make!) and he doesnt pay for his supplies! Anyway…I also strive to find that balance of being encouraging and not pressuring (this year for instance he had too much homework for his valentine commission project! He spends about two hours per card and earns 5.00 a card for those!) and I let it go! I never want this to be stressful or pressureful. But I also dont allow him to be lazy or try to sell something that is not up to par! He is really learning to collaborate and brainstorm and he does lots of rough drafts before settling on a final design. Here is his etsy shop if you want to take a look ! Love your blog and love reading everything from simple homeschool and all the sister blogs! Thanks for letting me chime in!
    Oh and here is a great story about art….
    A pottery teacher divided his class in half. One half he said, “You will be graded solely on the quality of your final pot.” To the other half he said “You will be graded solely on quantity. 50 pots is an A, 40 pots is a B, 30 pots is a C, 20 pots is a D and 10 pots is an F.” The class was outraged. How can you judge art based on quantity!!! At the end of the semester every person who made 50 pots had far better quality pots then the ones who worked all semester long on one pot. It’s about quantity. I have probably made 5000 cards and collages in my life (since a kid!) Tristan draws every day and draws a dozen drafts before settling on a final design…I believe if we encourage that kind of rigorous practice, the quality of craftsmanship naturally improves until they are etsy ready! I think its loving to be honest about that! There is a way of being encouraging and supportive without thinking everything is a masterpiece! I also thinkits a great education that prepares kids for real life. My dad is an inventor, I’m an actor, my husband is a director…all we do is try and fail and fail and fail! It’s so good to show that’s ok! OK thanks again for letting me chime in!

  34. Liz says:

    So, how is it going with your daughter’s creative adventures?! Your little one reminds me of mine. My now 8 years old daughter, who is a great swimmer (on a swim team) is also a little artist at heart and nature. She loves to draw, sew and now wants to pick up cooking! Along with selling her artwork/baking goods! OH BOY! I am trying to help her figure out one thing she would truly enjoy doing on a day to day basis to figure out if we should start selling it. She came up with all these ideas herself. I am a SAHM with a small photography business. My business itself is still driving to lift off the ground. We just moved to another state and trying to settle in and searching for clientele isn’t on my top priority list. My point is, she knows I have my own “business” but she also knows I don’t work all the time. o, just wondering how you all are getting along with your daughter’s ideas of a small “business”

    Thanks – Liz

  35. Ellie says:

    Thanks for writing this up. I’ve got a four-year-old who loves making bracelets, we have run out of people to give them to. I am considering setting up an Etsy shop for her as a way to teach her about running a business. My current thought is I’ll be doing most of the behind the scenes and she will be making the bracelets, helping package for shipping, and then dividing her profits into savings and charity envelopes. We can talk about the process as we go.

  36. Scout says:

    Hi, I thought I’d chime in. I happen to be a now 17-year-old who once considered starting an etsy shop, and my parents did not discourage me. I was thirteen and began doing the calculations myself and researching the possibilities. As I progressed in doing more and more adult things, I realized I it was too difficult for the amount of resources I had + plus my age, so stopped before I went too far. From this experience I’d say not to worry too much because more than likely, she’ll figure she’s not ready on her own. However, the other day I read on the etsy blog that there is a entrepreneur my age that started at thirteen, and had the assistance of her parents, and she is currently rich. So sometimes I wonder, if I had more support would I be her right now instead? Food for thought.

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