Young entrepreneurs lined Guildford High Street for the Children’s Business Fair last month.
More than 65 entrepreneurs aged seven to 17 sold homemade products from beeswax wraps to friendship bracelets at the event on 17 July, making more than £6,000.
The Children’s Business Fair UK was founded in 2018 by former media executive Sam Rogerson and started in Guildford.
The organisers hope to run more events in Farnham, Haslemere and beyond if restrictions and sponsorship allow.
Farnham ambassador Andrea Finnis told South West Londoner: “The main aim is to allow children to launch their own business and learn about being entrepreneurs.
“There are so many things with running a business that are such valuable skills that you don’t necessarily learn at school.
“Like how to sell yourself and sell your products and the mathematical side of how you make a profit.”
Children taking part in the initiative can access sessions and worksheets on the Children’s Business Fair website to guide them and create a business plan to manage costs before the event day.
However, they are strongly encouraged to come up with their own product ideas.
Finnis, 52, said: “The idea is we don’t support them too much, because it’s got to come from them.
“That’s the main message for the parents as well.
“We give them the basics and we’re there if they need help.”
Parents attend the events for legal reasons, but are encouraged to give the participants as much space as possible to help them learn.
Some children come along with a product that does not sell, but that is part of the learning process, Finnis said.
“A lot of them just say: ‘Well, when you fail, you’ve just got to get up and carry on.’
“And they do.
“They’re so bold and confident and it’s quite amazing.”
Ella Menday was taking part in the Children’s Business Fair for the first time, selling handmade keyrings, earrings, coasters and photo clips.
Ella, 14, said: “I use a substance called resin.
“You can mix two parts together and then pour it into silicone moulds.
“And then you can add anything inside, like flowers and glitter, and colours or anything like that.”
Ella started making resin accessories a year ago and sells them on her Etsy shop @florellamakes.
When asked about her favourite product, Ella said: “I really love the keyrings.
“I just think they’re really cool because you can make any design for anyone and everyone loves them.
“I’ve got plans of making more of these photo clips.
“I feel like everyone would love to give them – they’re good presents.”
Ella said she had really enjoyed the event.
She said: “It’s been amazing, it’s been really great.”
Shaam Sherwani was also taking part in her first Children’s Business Fair, selling macramé keyrings, wall hangings, coasters and bag tags.
Shaam, 12, started making macramé items regularly during the pandemic.
“I did it a few years ago and it didn’t go very well,” she said.
“So then I retried it and it did go quite well.”
Shaam highlights her products on a dedicated TikTok account @macramebaybusiness.
When asked her advice for others wanting to get involved in the fair, Shaam said: “Just do it.
“Just do it and don’t be scared to ask the other people.”
A judging panel of local businesspeople and government representatives awarded four prizes at the end of the event,.
‘Best Stall’ was awarded to Busy Bees, who sell beeswax wraps and cold process soap.
Love for Paws won ‘Best Product’ for handmade dog accessories, with a percentage of sales benefitting a dog charity.
‘Best Sales Pitch’ was awarded to Crayonames, a stall selling letters made from recycled crayons by 8-year-old entrepreneur Molly.
The ‘Judges’ Choice’ award went to Albert and Joel’s Bee Bombs: a stall which also featured bee houses.
The event was supported by Guildford Borough Council through funding from the UK Government’s Welcome Back Fund.
However, Finnis said that finding sponsorship in other places to be able to hold fairs there can be really hard.
Finnis said the highlight of the event was seeing participants grow in confidence throughout the day.
“Especially the ones that arrive in the morning and they’re really quiet and quite nervous,” she said.
“Then by the end of the day, if they’ve sold something and spoken to clients, they just transform.
“That is just skin-tingling – it really is so satisfying.”
The next fair is due to take place in Guildford on 20 November.
More information about the fair is available at http://www.childrensbusinessfair.co.uk.
Featured image credit: Melissa Thorne