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.
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.
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!