On the way to school one day just over a year ago, one of the neighborhood kids that Danielle Cannon was driving to school mentioned that she wanted to start selling some of her homemade bracelets.
Cannon’s own two kids, 7-year-old Jane and 9-year-old Adam, chimed in that they were interested in selling some stuff as well.
“So I posted online asking if anyone knew of a good place to do this little thing for the neighborhood,” Cannon says.
That little thing, however, became a much bigger thing. Within a day, more than 20 families had replied that their children wanted to be a part of it as well, and the Tampa Children’s Business Fair was born.
At the end of last month, Cannon’s army of “Kidpreneurs” set up more than 40 tables at the KRATE at The Grove container park, selling everything from artwork to tree saplings to cookies to Christmas trinkets to — you guessed it — bracelets.
“It has really grown,” says Cannon, who has poured thousands of dollars of her own money into her nonprofit fair where all the business owners are kids, ages 6-16. “Literally, the only limitation is finding places to hold it,” Cannon says.
The KRATE was generous enough to provide the space for free, although Cannon says other locations have charged as much as $1,500 to host a fair.
Cannon’s first event late last year attracted about 20 kids. The final event of this year, held at the Temple Terrace Recreation Center on Dec. 11, featured a whopping 75 tables and more than 100 Kidpreneurs.
“We would have had more but there was no more room,” Cannon says.
It was the fifth business fair of the year, and some of the young business owners — like New Tampa sisters Alghaliah (13-years-old), Layal (11) and Nouf Rizq (6) — have sold their wares at all of them.
The sisters, who all attend Turner-Bartels K-8 School, sell a variety of different necklaces and bracelets, including ones with clay beads displaying positive messages like “Kind,” “Cute,” “Love” and “Shine.”
At the KRATE fair, the trio’s Queen of Hearts business displayed an expanded product line to include pens and PopSockets (to help you hold your cell phone) and, at the Temple Terrace fair, they unveiled jewelry boxes made of resin.
“You can add colors to them,” Alghaliah says. “It looks really cool.”
The sisters have made more than $400 at the fairs. They say they wanted to learn more about entrepreneurship and the process has helped them become more confident.
“It’s been fun,” Layal says.
Cannon says the Rizqs are some of her best Kidpreneurs, even winning “Best Presentation” honors at one of the fairs. Typically, Cannon has local business owners help her choose the booths that have the “Best Presentation,” “Most Creative Business Idea” and “Highest Business Potential.”
Gabrielle Thompson, a 15-year-old sophomore at Wesley Chapel High, was one of the “Kidpreneurs” selling blinged- out tumblers and other items from her business, jets_customs. She also does custom items if you’re looking to put a name or saying on a 12- or 20-ounce tumbler.
Gabrielle has been doing pop-ups for a few years now and was excited to join the TCBF event, and hopes to continue to do so in the future.
“It’s taught me patience and organization,” Gabrielle says. “And, money management, too, of course.”
The Tampa Children’s Business Fair encourages children to embrace all the tenets of entrepreneurship — developing a product and a brand, building a marketing strategy, setting prices and selling to customers.
Booths cost $25, but Cannon tries to return $5 to each business owner so they can walk around and network and buy things from their fellow Kidpreneurs.
Cannon hopes one day to not have to charge at all. She is hoping to land some sponsors to help cover some of the costs of running the quarterly fairs moving forward; those costs also include things like insurance and sometimes having to hire off-duty law enforcement officers, a requirement for some of the sites.
“I’m way over full-time hours working on this, but I know once people know about this they are going to love it,” Cannon says. “This is awesome, I love doing it, and the kids love it.”
For more information about the Tampa Children’s Business Fair and future fairs, visit TampaCBF.org.
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