It’s never too late to do something big. It’s never too early, either.
Typical kids spend untold summer hours watching television, networking on Facebook, playing video games and hanging at the mall, happily oblivious to the pressures of turning a buck.
But a few young people possess a beyond-their-years business savvy coupled with the rare desire to launch an early career or do their part to better the world.
Meet the neighborhood’s most enterprising youths — trust us, they are people you might want to know in the future.
Eggs for sale
Name: Stevie Pagel
Biz: Backyard fresh eggs
Stevie Pagel started raising chickens as part of a pre-kindergarten science project at St. Bernard school last year. He set out to answer the question, “Can I raise chickens in my backyard?”
The project won first place, and it spawned a business for Stevie, who turns 7 this month. Stevie now has seven hens that lay, and after he and his mom and dad eat all they can, Stevie sells their surplus eggs once a week.
Every weekend, usually on Sundays, Stevie sets up a homemade stand in front of their home in Little Forest Hills.
Usually, he wears the felt chicken hat his parents bought for him at Oktoberfest. He wears it “for the cuteness factor,” he says. And he even has a catch phrase: “Best eggs ever. They’ll change your life.”
Stevie’s Eggs cost $2 for six, and there are usually about two dozen eggs to sell each week. Stevie’s parents set up a savings account for him, and so far, it contains about $40, says mom Polly Pagel. They call it his college fund.
Even though mom and dad do most of the dirty work related to the chickens, including cleaning the coop and feeding the hens, Stevie has learned a lot from the enterprise, including salesmanship and responsibility. Plus, he has to know what the change is for a $5 bill, for example.
“Just being outside and learning about nature makes it worthwhile,” says dad Steven Pagel. “It gives us an excuse to be outside.”
Stevie’s Backyard Eggs are available weekends in Little Forest Hills or by calling 214.728.9496.
Eating greenhouse gassesWatch video we shot of Gabriel last year in front of Whole Foods while he gave away saplings and sold t-shirts.
Name: Gabriel Hochberg
When Gabriel Hochberg was 4 years old, he came home one day and said, “Dad, do you know about global warming?”
He proceeded to explain the concept to his father, Jonathan Hochberg, in a way that was simple and accurate. He explained that trees “eat the pollution.”
“He said, ‘Dad, what are we going to do about it?’ ” Jonathan Hochberg recalls.
So they went out and bought a tree and planted it.
“I just realized that if everybody planted a tree, it would be a lot of trees,” Gabriel says.
So father and son started a nonprofit, Trees for Humanity, which gives saplings away to anyone who is willing to plant them. So far, they’ve given away 10,150 trees.
“It’s really about teaching kids what trees mean for our future,” Jonathan Hochberg says.
Gabriel, who now is 9, approached a manager at a Whole Foods store and asked whether he could give away trees there. Now Trees for Humanity regularly stages events at Whole Foods locations throughout the Dallas area.
To raise money to buy the little trees from tree farms, they sell Trees for Humanity T-shirts for $20.
Even though the first tree he planted was a sugar magnolia, Gabriel mostly gives away live oaks.
“They soak up greenhouse gasses better than other trees do,” he says. “They live longer, and they’re really hard to kill.”
Gabriel, who is home-schooled, says he thinks he learned about global warming and greenhouse gasses in school. Without trees, he says, we would all be dead.
Why is this so important to a 9-year-old who likes to surf and play video games?
“It’s important to all of us,” he says. “A lot of people just don’t know it is.”
Gabriel says his dad has a goal of planting 1 million trees before he dies. And Gabriel is sure he can plant even more in his lifetime.
Gabriel Hochberg helped start a nonprofit aimed at reducing greenhouse gasses. Find him at treesforhumanity.org
Name: Aven Stewart
Aven Stewart makes intricate little collages and, sometimes, big paintings.
But those tend to be too time-consuming or too sentimental to sell. So the 13-year-old artist came up with a way to mass-produce art.
Stewart taught himself to carve and print linotypes, which he sells, along with handmade jewelry, on Etsy.com.
He carves an image into a block that is faced on one side with linoleum. Once the image is painstakingly carved, he rolls on ink and presses the design onto paper by hand.
It’s tricky because the image that winds up on the paper is a mirror of what’s on the block. The part he carves is negative space, the part of the picture that doesn’t get ink. If there are words, he carves the space around each letter to form it.
“It takes a lot of planning,” he says.
A big piece could take an hour or more to plan, and it could take six or eight hours to carve, he says.
He produces some of the linotypes in limited editions of 90, and he numbers and signs each one. So far, he has sold a few linotypes on Etsy for $8-$10 each. His goal is to raise enough money for a printing press, and the cheapest one he can find is $50.
Stewart, who just finished eighth-grade at the Spence Middle School T.A.G. academy, will attend Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts as a freshman.
His parents, David and DeAnn Stewart, are both artistically inclined, and so is their younger son, 10-year-old Liam. They say Aven has been practicing art since he was young.
“He works hard,” David Stewart says.
Aven isn’t sure whether he wants to be a professional artist because, he says, it’s tough to make a living. But he’s already learning things about the art market. He makes intricate collages for himself, and he makes pleasing images to sell.
“You’ve got to figure out what people like and adapt your art to what people will buy,” he says. n
Aven Stewart’s art is available on etsy at etsy.com/shop/aven134.
Name: Brandon Shaw
Biz: Brandflakes Apps
A 15-year-old with an iPhone is going to download apps for it. That is for sure. But 15-year-old Brandon Shaw doesn’t just download apps. He makes them.
Shaw, who lives in Lakewood and will be a sophomore at Lakehill Prep, wrote his first iPhone app in eighth grade. It was simple, just a tree that grows on the screen.
Last year, he made an app called Solo Drumming. It’s a picture of a drum kit, which Shaw drew by hand. You tap different parts of the kit to make drum sounds.
Next, he designed a game, Zii, where you make a tiny alien hop up stairs; along the way, the alien has to avoid rockets.
The first day Zii was released in the Apple App Store in November, about 500 people downloaded it for free. Since then, it gets as many as 15 downloads a day.
Shaw hasn’t turned out the next Angry Birds or Words With Friends yet, but he’s still working on new apps. His next project is a quiz game, and he hopes “to get bigger stats with that one.”
He expects to offer the new game for free, too. But he’s also thinking of ways to profit from his apps.
“There are lots of ways to make money with an app,” he says. “You can put ads in them. You can give part of the game away for free and then ask them to pay for more features inside the game.”
Although Shaw says there are kids his age all over the globe making apps, he doesn’t know any others who are local. He learned some programming in computer classes at Lakehill. But he learned how to make apps online.
“I just made one, and it actually worked,” he says.
When he has questions about something he’s working on, he usually turns to online forums for help.
Lakehill Prep spokeswoman Gigi Ekstrom says she downloaded Shaw’s drumming app to her iPhone.
“I went home and showed it to my son,” she says. “I just thought it was so neat that I could go on my phone and download it.”
Brandon Shaw’s apps are available on itunes.
The Help Japan Lemonade Stand
Name: Dasha Ramey
Biz: Help Japan Peace Love Lemonade
When 7-year-old Dasha Ramey saw the Japan earthquakes and tsunami on TV, it made her sad.
“She said, ‘Mom, we really need to do something to help Japan,’ ” says Dasha’s mom, Holly Lynch. “I said, ‘What do you think you could do?’ ”
The first-grader was silent for several minutes, and then she said, “Lemonade.”
That night, she and her 6-year-old brother, Van Alex, made a sign: “Help Japan Peace Love Lemonade”. The next day, they started selling lemonade in front of their Forest Hills home.
The first weekend, they made $80. They sold the drink for 25 cents a cup, but they said customers often handed them bills and told them to keep the change.
Dasha set up her lemonade stand at White Rock Dog Park one Saturday morning. And she sold at her brother’s soccer games. That’s where Lynch really noticed her daughter’s commitment.
“She walked up to every single person on that field and asked them if they wanted to buy lemonade,” Lynch says. “And if they said ‘yes’, she would go get it and bring it to them.”
Once Lynch was sure the kids were committed, she set up a fundraising page for them at crowdrise.com.
Since then, their Help Japan Lemonade Stand has raised more than $1,400 for Save the Children. Mom and dad, Cole Ramey, match the donations.
“I want it to go to kids,” says Dasha, who also volunteers at Promise of Peace Community Garden, a summer camp and a senior citizens center. She’ll be a second-grader at Lakehill Prep next year, and she says she’d like to be a teacher because “I like little kids, and I want to help them.”
Dasha expects to expand her fundraising this summer. She would like to raise money for kids in Haiti, too.
Donate to Peace Love Lemonade at crowdsource.com/HelpJapanLemonadeStand.
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