Three Building Brunsco Kids Expos in 2019 will give youngsters a chance to show off their entrepreneurial talents.
It’s inspiring to learn about entrepreneurs who create the next big thing — a can’t-live-without product or service that is sure to solve all of our problems. It’s even more inspiring when those mastermind innovators turn out to be kids. Nearly 40 local youngsters are their own CEOs, and they’re taking part in the 2019 Building Brunsco Kids Expos.
This tri-Chamber of Commerce collaboration is the area’s only series of business fairs created just for kids. The pop-up shop format offers kids ages 7 to 18 an opportunity to design, develop and market a product or service that they are passionate about. These kidpreneurs are responsible for the setup, sales, marketing and interacting with customers. No adults are allowed to help sell or market the product or service.
In 2018 Brunswick County Chamber piloted the Building Brunsco Kids Expo on August 25 in Calabash. Nearly 300 people attended the event to support these local young entrepreneurs. Thirty-three children participated, getting an early opportunity to learn what it takes to own a business, including developing marketing plans, managing money and communicating with customers to increase their sales. This next generation of go-getters showcased their homemade natural beauty and skin-care products, original artworks, baked goods, pet creations, toys, jewelry and many other fine products and services. And, of course, as many young entrepreneurs start out, there was a fresh-squeezed, homemade lemonade stand. Some of these pint-sized moguls even donated part or all of the purchases to local charities and people in need.
With the success and interest of the inaugural Expo, Brunswick County Chamber President Shannon Viera, North Brunswick Chamber President Dana Fisher and Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber President Karen Sphar have come together to provide multi-location opportunities for even more children to participate in 2019. Each chamber will host the Kids Expo in their central area of the county — North Brunswick in the spring, Brunswick County Chamber continuing in summer and Southport-Oak Island Area in late fall with a tie in to Shop Local Saturday in November.
Viera considers Building Brunsco Kids Expo one of the most impactful projects she’s been a part of. “It’s great to see these kids express themselves, without any parental help,” she says. “They have to handle every aspect of the business by themselves, from customer service to the monetary part. It gives kids an opportunity to think about skills they need in their futures.”
The Expos equip children with essential business knowledge that they can take with them no matter what future career field they choose. From a marketing perspective, participants learn how creative displays, company slogans and features and benefits not only help them sell their products and services, but also teach confidence and the importance of credibility. From the customer service side, they learn what it means to serve others fairly. Money management is a big part of the learning experience as well. Participants take money, make change and understand about profit after expenses. And then there is learning to deal with rejection and the valuable skill of emotional intelligence that goes along with it.
Building Brunsco Kids Expo not only provides a forum for children who are already enterprising, but also serves as inspiration for children who are looking to discover that side of themselves and wondering where to start. Those kids who fall into the second category should look to what they’re passionate about, what they can make with their own hands and minds, and imagine how they might creatively market and sell it. The Expo can provide a way for every child who participates to be successful, well past the economics.
Prizes will be awarded, and winners will have the opportunity to promote their business through the Brunswick County chambers of commerce.
Viera is excited about the tri-chamber partnership. “Ensuring this opportunity is available to all the youth in our county is a vision that we share,” she says. “Providing a place for the next generation of our county’s workforce to develop their professional skills while supporting their dreams is not just a goal, but a passion.”
Each chamber will be responsible for one Expo, but the chambers will work together to market and promote each location, share resources and take a collective approach on continued development of the Expo and cultivation of future young leadership programs.
Got a Young Entrepreneur in the Family? Applications for the 2019 Building Brunsco Kids Expo series will begin in March. Visit the website for information: childrensbusinessfair.org/brunswick-county