Like many little girls, Gabby wanted a puppy. She asked and asked and asked again, until finally her family came up with a plan.
On a sunny day in July 2018, the first batch of Gabby’s Terrific Treats hit the market. This bag of 10 big dog treats retailed for $5 and was sold via social media, followed quickly by a summer filled with in-person market appearances and home deliveries around the Greater Moncton Area.
“The response was overwhelming,” says Melissa Stark, Gabby’s mother. “It was supposed to be a little thing, to have a lesson around finances, and working, and earning money.”
“I wanted to raise enough money to buy a dog,” says Gabby. “I learned that you have to do things over and over again and that you have to put a lot of work into your cookies.”
Gabby, age eight, with some guidance from her mother, Melissa, and her little sister’s help, baked hundreds and hundreds of natural, healthy dog treats. A portion of each sale went to support local dog rescue organizations, including the Greater Moncton SPCA and Atlantic Canadian Dachshund Rescue, with the rest saved up toward the girl’s dream of owning her own puppy.
By September, Gabby was cuddling Pepper, a goldendoodle pup.
For Salisbury teen Jaylin McNeil, her business also began when her parents declined her requests for costly items.
“Last spring, I started wanting to buy some expensive things, like Lululemon pants, that my parents didn’t think were necessary,” says Jaylin. “We sat down to brainstorm ways that I could earn my own money.”
While most teen girls turn to babysitting for spending money, Jaylin knew that wasn’t what she wanted.
“I am the oldest of four kids,” she explains. “I’ve seen how crazy my siblings can be and I knew I didn’t want to do that! Then I remembered making cotton candy for our yard sale. I received a small Jelly Belly cotton candy machine for Christmas a few years ago. The summer after I received it, I made some very small servings of cotton candy to sell at a yard sale and did really well. I thought I could do that, but bigger.”
Jaylin borrowed almost $1,000 from her parents and launched Jay’s Cotton Candy. She takes orders through her Facebook page, has been hired by community events to provide cotton candy to participants, and she’s rented tables at local markets and fairs – something she plans to do more of this summer.
While making cotton candy may sound like a lot of fun, Jaylin points out the educational side of things.
“I’ve had to learn about accounting and tracking sales, unit costs, online ordering, finding reputable suppliers and more,” she says. “Mostly I have been figuring it out as I go, learning what works and what doesn’t from trial and error. My Mom and Dad help to guide me sometimes too, when I’m trying to make the best decisions for my business or if I have ideas that I’m not sure about. They also drive me so I can deliver orders and attend markets.”
Jay’s Cotton Candy has repaid its start-up loan and now funds many of Jaylin’s interests, beyond Lululemon pants.
“I use my profits to help pay for my figure skating,” she says. “I need new skates, a new dress for my next program, and private coaching so that I can continue to improve. It can get pretty expensive.”
She also has plans to expand. “I’m saving some money because I want to buy a bigger machine so that I can do bigger events,” she shares. “I like the freedom of having my own money so that I can spend it on things that I want but don’t necessarily need. Unlimited cotton candy whenever I feel like it is nice, too!”
Notre Dame teen Alexandre Doucet fell into his business two years ago.
“I attended a workshop at Carte Blanche where I was introduced to Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and I’ve been painting ever since,” he explains.
At first, Alexandre painted purely for enjoyment, but as the collection of refinished projects grew, he worked with his mother to post them on Facebook for sale. 2ieme Chance now has hundreds of followers and brings a steady stream of clients to Alexandre.
“School comes first, but on my free time I really enjoy working on my projects,” he shares. “I can’t wait until summer break!”
“All my profit goes directly towards my business purchases – paint, wax, brushes, and new furniture pieces,” he says. “I love finding old pieces of furniture in bad shape. I love when I can see the potential it could have with a great paint colour and, as my business name says, giving it a second chance!”
For students interested in learning more about entrepreneurship, check out Junior Achievement of New Brunswick (a school-based program that sees students collaborating on businesses), SHAD (a national summer camp program for high school students), and Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge (a provincial, bilingual program available to any school-age children in New Brunswick, up to age 25).
A version of this article originally appeared in Family 1st/Famille en premier, a free, bilingual quarterly parenting magazine published by Brunswick News, with Pickle Planet Moncton’s Jenna Morton as Contributing Editor.