Entrepreneurship drives innovation, job creation and economic growth.
With Canada’s aging population, a substantial number of entrepreneurs will soon head into retirement. To maintain prosperity, it’s important that Canada’s youth fill that void.
Of course, the entrepreneurial journey is fraught with challenges, but online searches reveal an abundance of support for aspiring business owners aged 18 to 39. Whether through mentorship or financing, organizations seem willing to take emerging leaders and spark their passion to develop necessary skills that will differentiate them from the rest.
It is evident that Whistler’s youthful population houses a talented base of entrepreneurs, so what impact would it have to start really young?
Back in 2006, two local moms started Bratz Biz to champion the entrepreneurial spirit of young artisans and nine years later, it’s more than a kids’ craft fair. Co-founders Carmen Laslett and Susan Shrimpton have designed a rigid regimen that empowers youth to take their passion, harvest insight into what it takes to run a successful venture and turn it into part-time income.
From determining whether their idea is viable to sourcing parts, setting a price or selecting packaging — these “youth-preneurs” are primed to sell their wares with solid sales techniques.
Emily Sargent is the perfect example of starting young. Emily accompanied her mom to the Whistler Farmers’ Market when she was just two weeks old, and that influence filled her with entrepreneurial spirit.
As part of Bratz Biz, she started Whistler Fairy Factory making tutus, accessories and other products to sell at markets and online via a website she designed as a school project.
Bratz Biz taught her that having a business takes commitment, dedication and sacrifice. She has cultivated discipline to be prepared by organizing, ordering and planning everything that is needed to create products. Beyond that, she has discovered even the best products don’t sell themselves and that you have to share your story with strangers to attract buyers.
Emily is hoping to continue on her entrepreneurial path with both Whistler Fairy Factory and hopefully owning a bakery in the future.
In 2004, Rebekah Robertson started Beads of Hope at nine years of age. As a Bratz Biz alumni, she launched Bekah Anne, an artisan jewellery and accessories brand in 2013 which has received industry awards and been featured in several publications.
Lessons learned during those years with Bratz Biz still hold true today. A key takeaway was clearly defining your target market and the type of clients that are going to love your products. From there, creating a recognizable brand that attracts that client while also staying true to your vision and design aesthetic.
Rebekah’s work has successfully created a venue that combines her passion for artisan jewellery and a vision to support others in need. Bekah Anne donates pieces to auctions and raises awareness for Abetavu, a safe haven for Ugandan children.
Co-founder Susan Shrimpton believes Bratz Biz shows young people that it takes much more than having a great product to be successful. Through hard work at every phase and finally, having the courage to share their story with potential buyers, the seed is planted for entrepreneurial prosperity.
If you’d like to witness that in action and support our budding entrepreneurs, drop by Bizarre Bazaar, Whistler’s holiday artisan market on Nov. 28 and
At Lighthouse Visionary Strategies, Cathy Goddard offers business and life coaching and the Whistler Open Forum speaker series. She is founder of Lighthouse Mentor Network, a mentor program nominated for a Small Business BC Award for the fourth year in a row. Please cast your vote at www.lighthousevisionary.com/vote.