At only 8 years old, Emily York is something of an artistic entrepreneur, selling her drawings at a Children’s Business Fair in Frankfort several months ago to the tune of $60.
Ashley York, her mom, was so delighted that she’s organizing a similar event in Lockport, where she owns Realtopia Real Estate with her husband Andy York and cousin Kristen Shedor.
The Lockport Children’s Business Fair, which is free, will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sept. 17 on the lawn outside Lockport City Hall, or in the City Hall gym, if it rains. The event is being organized with the city of Lockport and Lupine Montessori School.
“I like to draw,” said Emily, who sold her pictures of a hurricane in Florida, a tooth fairy, a Pokemon and a cup of coffee. “I have millions of them in my room.”
Ashley York said she loved watching her daughter interact with customers as she showed them her pictures. Emily, who likes making picture books of her drawings in her spare time, will be adding bracelets to the mix for the Lockport event.
“Some of the guys were like, ‘I’m going to put this picture in my office,” recalled her mom. “I was so proud.”
Anyone under 18 can have a booth, so long as it’s their idea and not their parents, said York. When kids apply, they need to include their business name, product, what it costs to make, what they will sell the product for and how they will determine if the event is a success.
The event will include entertainment from family-friendly DJ Aaron Chandler, who will play music and give shout outs to the businesses. There will also be raffle prizes from sponsors including Wild Hive Hair and Colt Express Transportation. Ninja Girl Coffee will sell hot and iced coffee and kids will get an event T-shirt.
So far, about 20 children have signed up to sell items including handmade jewelry, crocheted items, Pizzelle waffle cookies, keychains, handmade soaps, pressed flower art, and balloon creations.
“It’s basically like a glorified lemonade stand because the kids can come up with whatever they want to sell or create,” said York, a former Lockport resident who now lives in Homer Glen. “I just think it’s an awesome opportunity for these kids.”
Tina Davidson, Head of School for Lupine Montessori School, said she was excited about the upcoming fair.
“I think there are many events that are sort of classified as for kids and it’s a lot of adults doing things for kids,” said Davidson. “This is an event where the kids are bringing something to the adults.”
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Davidson said her middle school students run their own businesses through the school, baking food or creating art every month.
“They start to learn about the skills they’ll need for business,” she said.
Allison Cann, marketing and events coordinator for Lockport, said the city was happy to be part of the Children’s Business Fair.
“We’re always looking for new events to bring to the community and the fact that it was kid-focused, that they’re getting off their screens and getting creative and learning some life skills in the process,” said Cann, who has four children. “It’s something unique and we thought it would be good for the community.”
Cann said Nora, her own 11-year-old came up with an idea to sell bookmarks and bracelets at the event.
About half of the 40 spots for child entrepreneurs are already filled. More information is with Ashley York at 708-307-9616 or email Ashley@realtopiare.com.
Janice Neumann is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.