How did these kids spend their summer? Most likely developing marketing plans, organizing shipping schedules and perfecting designs and product lines. The companies they founded offer amazing products (as gifts, they’re fun ideas for kids) and give back to the community. That’s an A+ in our book.
In the Pocket
Sydney Loew (pictured, left) took the skills she learned in a seventh-grade entrepreneurial course to a new level when she and her sister, Toni (right), created Poketti Plushies ($14.99, www.poketti.com), soft pillows with a sewn-in pocket to hold cell phones, notepads, glasses and other tween essentials. The collection features Sydney the Penguin, Toni the Bunny, Baxter the Puppy and Roxi the Kitty, and the girls have donated 5,000 plushies to organizations such as Project Night Night (www.projectnightnight.org), a San Francisco nonprofit that provides a book, stuffed toy and blanket to homeless children across the country.
Two in One
For a school assignment to invent the perfect toy, Max Rebella rolled his love for sports balls and teddy bears into one. Buddy Balls ($24.99, MaxLand Toys, www.buddyballs.com) transform from ball to teddy bear with a fold and zip. Max donates a portion of his proceeds to Child Life Council (www.childlife.org), a nonprofit group of child-life specialists and other experts who help children and families through hospitalization and other challenging events.
Lyla Black was just 3 when she created her first Lyla Tov Monster ($19.99, www.lylatov.com) as a holiday gift for her dad. “Lyla tov” means “good night” in Hebrew, and these friendly monsters are designed to help children feel safe at night. To help less-fortunate children get a good night’s sleep, a portion of the proceeds is donated to children’s charities of Lyla’s choosing.
Hart Main was 13 when he recognized the need for candles with guy-friendly scents. He launched Man-Cans ($9.50, www.man-cans.com), “manly” candles that smell like root beer, hot cocoa, fresh-cut grass, cigars – even dirt. The candles were originally packaged in recycled soup cans, so it’s fitting that 75 cents per candle sold is donated to local soup kitchens.
Emily Matson (pictured, right) and Julianne Goldmark (left), now college students, founded their fashion-forward hair accessory company, Emi Jay (Prices vary, www.emijay.com) while they were in middle school in 2009. Their collection includes hair ties, headbands, bows, barrettes and novelty t-shirts. Everything is handmade in the U.S., and the girls give 20 percent of all profits to charities such as Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.