2012-05-13| By Julie Landry Laviolette
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These South Florida youngsters are starting and growing a business with socially responsible missions, and they aren't even out of elementary school.
As CEO of FriendlyBands, Jessica Nedry gets involved in every aspect of production, from making bracelets to filling orders to printing labels.
Just as soon as she finishes her homework.
The fourth-grader at Westminster Academy in Pompano Beach turned an afternoon arts and crafts
project into a bracelet business with online and retail outlets. The 9-year-old is part of a growing movement of kid entrepreneurs who are getting small businesses off of the ground.
"For a young person, having an entrepreneurial spirit is the key to surviving in this type of economy," said Alice Horn, executive director of the South Florida chapter of the Network for Teaching' Entrepreneurship. "Most people will change careers up to 11 times in their lifetime. The ability to think creatively and outside the box is the key to success."
Here's a look at three kid entrepreneurs:
Last June, Jessica Nedry began weaving and knotting colored rubber bands into bracelets for herself
and friends. When she heard of a neighborhood fund-raiser for a cancer patient, Jessica decided to donate 100 bracelets to sell at the affair.
"I was just going to wear them or give them to friends, but when I saw the flier, I wanted to do it to
help," she said.
That turned into a partnerrship with the National Breast Cancer Foundation, which receives 10 percent of
the proceeds from the pink and white Hope bracelet.
Now Jessica sells 28 different bracelets, and gives proceeds from military-inspired themes to two armed
"I didn't like seeing people in need and not doing anything," she said.
When she started Jessica was making the bracelets at night, after school and sports. She was able to twist 30 tiny rubber bands into a bracelet in about a minute. But then the orders kept coming, so now the production and packaging is outsourced.
The bracelets are sold at Learning Express in Fort Lauderdale, Heron Bay Gift Shop and Boutique in Coral Springs, and online at www.friendlybands.com.nBracelets are $2.99 each.
The family's initial capital outlay was about $15,000-$20,000 for materials, production, marketing and start-up costs. The site went live in March and the company sold about 150 bracelets in the first two
weeks, mom Madeline Nedry said.
"It's really a family business, everyone helps out," she said. Dad Douglas Nebry, an American Airlines
captain, takes marketing pictures' and, keeps up the website. Mom Madeline helps out with operations and Jessica's younger brother, Robert, 7, takes orders from friends.
"I would tell kids to follow what's in their heart, because it can happen," Madeline said.
Jessica says that starting her own business makes her proud.
"My friends say they think it's cool. They wish they could have one, too," she said.