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Jefferson City Children's Business Fair attracts young business owners, entrepreneurs

Jefferson City Children's Business Fair attracts young business owners, entrepreneurs

April 21st, 2019 by Jeff Haldiman in Local News

Ninth-grader Sant Gaballah stands at her business' table next to her samples of Baklava on Saturday at the Children's Business Fair at McClung Park. Gaballah's business, Baklava and Beyond featured homemade baklava, tassels and bracelets.

Photo by Jenna Kieser /News Tribune.

The second Jefferson City Children's Business Fair was Saturday at the McClung Park Indoor Pavilion.

Thirteen business owners and entrepreneurs, ages 5-17, received a first-hand experience with customer service, marketing, advertising and sales. They had to interact with customers and make their own sales. They also received feedback from adult business owners and consumers about how they can improve their skills.

Robin Atkins is the event organizer and said they had a good response for their first event last year so they decided to do it again.

Baked goods, homemade crafts, bath bombs, a clothing line and characters made out of Legos were just some of the products children came up with.

"It's exciting that they are thinking this far ahead and that they have parents that support them," Atkins said. "It's important for children to know that they can create their own wealth and life for themselves. They can be their own boss if they want to be."

Most of the children were from Jefferson City, but some were from Columbia.

"We hope to grow to where we have one event in the spring and one in the fall," Atkins said. "We'd also like to set up classes for the kids to attend to let them talk to business owners about what it takes to get a business going."

Atkins said they tried something new this year with secret shoppers interacting with the children and later filling out score cards.

"They didn't know when this would happen and that's the way it is in real life," Atkins said. "I was in sales for a long time and you have to be on your game at all times."

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Tamika Valentine's 11-year-old daughter had handmade fabric necklaces, bracelets and hair bows. She's proud her daughter has the initiative to do this.

"This was an opportunity we didn't want to pass up," Valentine said. "She's excited about it. I make children's accessories and toys so we have a creative home. We enjoy the process together."

Celia Lehman, of Jefferson City, was showing bath bombs she and her brother had put together. Lehman said although there were parts of the process that were intriguing, she wasn't sure if she wanted to go into business for herself.

"All the trial and error of trying to find a good recipe was the biggest challenge," Lehman said. "I helped with the packaging. It's a lot of hard work and seems like it would be pretty stressful."

DeVont'e Lowery, 14, of Jefferson City, has been working since last summer with his brother on selling homemade lemonade, brownies and Rice Krispie Treats. He said he's learning how to make sure to take care of the needs of the customer."

"It takes work," Lowery said. "You've got to take your time, making the lemonade perfect for other people. I think I possibly could go into business for myself."

To find out more about this group, visit childrensbusinessfair.org/jeffersoncity.