Entrepreneurship At Any Age

When she was 8 years old, Evelyn Espinoza sold bubble gum and other candy door-to-door in her Los Angeles neighborhood to earn money.

By sixth grade, her mom was buying the enterprising 12-year-old toys at a wholesale mart to resell at school. Now 17, Espinoza is still hard at work. Her latest business venture, Hippie’s Candles, was named the winner last week of the Los Angeles regional business-plan competition, and a $1,750 prize, at the event sponsored by the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship and the Merrill Lynch Foundation.


“Entrepreneurship is excellent,” said Espinoza, who is in the NFTE entrepreneur-training class at Soledad Enrichment Action Girls Academy, a charter school in downtown Los Angeles. “Money rules the society,” she said. “Everyone wants money, and it’s only right to learn how to make it in a legit way and to be your own boss.”

Espinoza said she makes candles in the kitchen of her family’s home using organic wax and various dyes and fragrances. The 11th-grader has learned to wait until she has an order “so I can make sure people pay for the supplies I use,” she said.

Sounding like a seasoned business pro, she talked about “her basic unit,” a six-inch pillar that sells for $17. Star shapes made of colored layers of wax and heart-shaped candles cost more. Espinoza said she jotted down several ideas for her business, including making bird treats, before settling on candles. A friend helped teach her how to make them.

Espinoza would like to expand by making a catalog, adding to her candle selection and getting stores to buy her candles on consignment. “I really see big things for this business,” she said. ” I’m just getting going.”


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