Young people have been inspired to create businesses that help the community.
Although the pandemic has presented many challenges to the community, it has inspired young people to create businesses that also help the community. Here are some of these young people making a difference.
“Twin Treasures” Raises Funds for Camp
COVID-19 dashed Brendyn and Emma Tischler’s plans for their first trip to sleepaway camp when Camp Tamarack stayed closed this summer. The nearly 8-year-old twins needed something else fun to do.
They thought about a lemonade stand outside their West Bloomfield home, but that didn’t seem practical in the pandemic era. Since they enjoy creative arts, they settled on making beaded chains for face masks.
They had made beaded necklaces and bracelets in the past, and Brendyn thought it would be cool to clip chains onto the face masks everyone now has to wear.
The twins were inspired by their father, Jeff, a senior vice president at Fifth Third Bank.
There was always lots of money talk at home, said their mom, Elissa, a kindergarten teacher at Hillel Day School, where the twins will enter second grade this year. They each have a college fund, and they knew whenever money came their way, they had to save some of it.
They asked their father lots of questions about building a business and what to do with their earnings. Because tzedakah has been a strong family value, they wanted to give some of the money from sales to a worthy cause. They settled on the Send a Kid to Tamarack fund, which provides scholarships for campers.
The chains are made to order, with customers describing the colors and/or style they prefer. Their dad created an Excel spreadsheet for them to keep track of their orders and sales.
Brendyn and Emma named their enterprise Twin Treasures. Their mom started a Facebook page for them — EmmaBrendyn Tischler — where customers can see their products and order chains. Sales boomed through word of mouth. To date, the twins have raised more than $130 for Tamarack.
Elissa Tischler says there have been a lot of little lessons along the way, including pricing and profit margins. The twins sold their first creations to family members for $5 apiece and soon discovered that after accounting for their expenses, they’d have only $1 per piece left to donate. So they raised their price to $8, with $2 from every sale going to help needy campers.
They enjoyed working together and doing something creative, said Elissa Tischler. But they also learned that business owners have to put in an effort even when they’d rather be doing something else because their customers are relying on them.
“At first I thought having a business was easy, but it’s really hard work,” Brendyn said. “It’s not about just making money for ourselves. It’s about giving money to other people, too.”
Emma said it makes her feel good to give people something they want. “It makes me happy that people are using our product,” she said.
Dandy Dog Biscuits Raises Funds for Animal Welfare
Two summers ago, Alex Gross, then 8, learned to make dog biscuits while attending the Jewish Community Center’s day camp; it was a way to demonstrate the Jewish value of caring for animals.
Even though Alex has no pets of his own, he loves animals, especially dogs. Before Rosh Hashanah that year, he started his own company, Dandy Dog Biscuits, with the idea of raising funds for animal welfare.
He found a recipe online with only three ingredients — baby food, whole wheat flour and water — and mixed up his first batch in the family kitchen. He used his great-great-grandmother’s rolling pin to roll the dough and a Jewish star cookie cutter for shapes.
Alex since expanded his vision: He’d sell the biscuits at the Novi Memorial Day parade so he could raise even more to help animals.
“He came up with the idea on his own,” said his mother, Jodi, who does marketing, adult education and youth engagement at Adat Shalom Synagogue. “He said, ‘We have to go big.’”
Alex, then finishing third grade, made up a sign to advertise the dog treats. He decided how many biscuits to put in each bag (four) and how much to charge ($2). At the parade, he approached people with dogs. Within an hour he had sold his 25 bags.
Soon after the parade, he made his first donation to the World Wildlife Foundation.
With his mom’s help, Alex made up some business cards that he handed to people walking dogs in the neighborhood.
In the spring, Alex started deliveries to help people and their dogs get through COVID lockdowns. “It feels good to make them smile,” he said. His dad Danny, an attorney, and older brother Mickey, 12, support his efforts.
He doesn’t venture far beyond his Novi neighborhood, though his grandfather, Larry Berger of Farmington Hills, promoted the biscuits among his colleagues. Alex quickly sold a large batch of biscuits he made in April, and another batch of 180, his biggest ever, that he made in July.
Over the summer, Alex, now 10, started making dog tug-toys from fleece, trying out his prototype on a puppy he met while delivering biscuits (the dog loved it).
So far, Alex, whose parents have donated all the dog biscuit ingredients and supplies, has raised $400 for the World Wildlife Foundation.
The venture has been a great way for Alex to develop self-confidence and improve his math skills, said his mother.
He’s not really looking for more business right now — one big batch of biscuits a month is about all he and his mom can handle — and he doesn’t have a website yet. But interested customers can email him at email@example.com.
Know of other local kid entrepreneurs for JN to spotlight? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.