Portraits of enterprising young Canadians
The youth of Canada are made of resilience, passion, creativity, and generosity. Here are the stories of youths who, despite the challenges of the past year, have started exciting initiatives—and how their parents have supported their endeavours.
Twelve-year-old Adora Heide is the daughter of Amy and Travis Heide, founders of One Organic Farm (Canada’s largest organic farm). Inspired by her parents’ entrepreneurial spirit, Adora dreams of running a bakery one day. And this year, she’s already proving her own passion for entrepreneurship by starting a custom-designed sticker business she calls Adorable Co.
Using her allowance money, Adora began building her business site, adorableco.com, in January 2021, where she features her stickers. But her father inspired her to add other sellers to her site, so other kid-run shops on her site include her sister Audrey’s Super Charms bracelets and the Cute Crafts and Sophbeads shops.
Adora managed the learning curve inherent in making her stickers by researching and watching YouTube videos to expand her knowledge base. To design her stickers, Adora used the app Procreate, and to test drive her business idea, she gave her creations to her sisters and friends.
Her mother promoted Adorable Co. on her Facebook account, and Adora created a business Instagram account, @adorableco1, which helped jumpstart sales. Although her mother paid for the first round of shipping when orders started coming in, Adora can now use the profits from the business to pay for her shipping costs.
Adora has found the online world of sales to make selling a cinch during the pandemic. Stickers with quotes and verses printed on them are Adora’s favourite—which also happen to be her best sellers. She also creates custom-ordered stickers. For instance, Adora has been asked to design stickers with business logos on them. She also offers custom address label stickers and custom name stickers.
Adora’s nine-year-old sister, Audrey, who taught herself how to make bracelets, sells her Super Charms bracelets on the Adorable Co. platform. She enjoys the creative process and keeping busy, especially during the pandemic.
Adora—and her sisters—are in the business for the long haul. “When you find out what you want to sell, start small and find something you like doing,” she recommends.
In the spring of 2020, Isaac Young, a 15-year-old Arnprior, Ontario, student, was finding the COVID summer job market tough going. At the time, Young’s father was building wooden garden boxes for Young’s mother and had commented on how expensive these boxes were to buy.
This comment inspired the younger Young to begin making and selling his own garden boxes. He thought he would be building boxes until he landed a summer job; but instead, his business, Backyard Builder (facebook.com/backyard.builder.50), became his summer job—and will be his summer job this year, too.
Eventually, Young expanded into sandboxes and picnic tables as well. Both of Young’s parents support his endeavour. His mother assists with social media and marketing, and his father has helped with securing supplies (especially now, since the prices of materials have risen).
Young credits a summer company grant from the Ontario government (ontario.ca/page/start-summer-company-students) for keeping him accountable. The grant gave him $1,500 for start-up costs, and another $1,500 if he kept his business running in accordance with the standards of the program.
He also credits the can-do attitude his mother instilled in him for helping him build the business.
“It’s finding a way to make things work, whether that’s getting in touch with other people who have experience in the field you’re working in, or [watching] online DIY videos,” says Young.
In June 2020, Toronto mom Fatima Molu and her two children, Asiyah, eight, and Ammar, 12, started Kids Who Care International (KWCI; kidswhocareinternational.com). Even before they created the organization—and pre-COVID—the family had been performing what they called “caring missions” by bringing items such as food gift cards and sleeping bags to people without housing in Downtown Toronto.
“We made sure our kids knew that you can always do something to help someone else,” says Molu.
They started KWCI so their friends could join them on these caring missions.
KWCI initiates various caring missions, such as providing baby formula and diapers to families or doing a bicycle drive for kids, where they found appropriate bikes for every child living in a women’s shelter. Their most recent caring mission raised almost $7,000 to provide warm clothing for a GTA community centre.
To fund a caring mission, members of KWCI choose a creative, COVID-friendly fundraising project to raise $20 to $25 toward the mission. Most kids supersede this amount, says Molu.
These creative fundraising projects have included a brother and sister’s karate challenge, a book talk for kids aged nine to 13, and an online bingo game. Kids have also made and sold bath bombs, date balls, and hand-sewn pouches.
“The fundraising projects they choose are uniquely theirs and based on their passion, talents, and creativity,” says Molu. “[During] it’s kept our minds and moods occupied in a positive way.”
To get KWCI off the ground, Molu built the website, with the kids’ input, and the kids created a launch video. Asiyah felt being on camera took her out of her comfort zone at first, but she persisted in building her skills. Ammar learned he is best suited for a role behind the camera and editing.
The KWCI members—ranging in age from five to 15—are part of an organization. One of their organizational duties involves holding meetings, where the kids will listen to presentations from two charities/organizations and then vote for one of these organizations as their next caring mission.
KWCI would love to see families in other cities join them; chapters in Orlando and New York have already started up. Eventually, they’d like to take their caring missions overseas.
As for other kids who want to follow in their footsteps, Asiyah suggests learning about a problem and then figuring out how to be a part of the solution. Ammar adds: “Never stop trying, and never stop caring about others. You have the ability to do anything.”
Children and youth should be encouraged to “play” with entrepreneurship at first,” says Dominik Loncar, entrepreneur-in-residence at Futurpreneur. It’s about starting small and then gradually increasing with your child’s level of comfort.
Through small exercises—like handing your child $100 and asking how they would build a business with it—youth can learn some of the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. These include budgeting, money management, the realities of the financial world, hands-on experience, breaking out of their comfort zone, tapping into their network base, and learning how to ask for help.
As a parent, it’s important to understand the nature of your child as an individual and push them slightly within their comfort zone and style, says Loncar. “[Parents] revel in the successes and the small wins.”
A study published in the Journal of Labor Economics found that parental entrepreneurship increases the probability that their children will become entrepreneurs by approximately 60 percent.