Freya Ford shows samples of her Grimy Slime, which won most original business idea at last year’s Community Futures Westman Children’s Business Fair.(File)

Community Futures Westman’s second annual children’s business fair comes to Brandon next week, and organizers hope more children will register and more people will come out to support the event this time around.

Last year’s fair saw a total of seven children enter, the youngest of whom was six and the oldest 14, selling things like homemade waffles with different toppings, homemade slime, cupcakes, jewelry and more.

“We had two sisters that were making dog treats. Their dad worked at Maple Leaf and would bring home ears and stuff like that, and then they would dehydrate them and sell them to people for their dogs,” said Wendy Petersen, a community development analyst with Community Futures Westman (CFW).

Judges went from stall to stall at the market, speaking with each child about their products and how they got into wanting to sell them. It was also a learning experience for the organizers of the event, Petersen said.

“We thought it was really successful because it was the first time. We felt like we reached a part of the market that we hadn’t reached before.”

This year, CFW has partnered with the Riverbank Discovery Centre, where the children’s business fair will run in conjunction with the farmers’ market. This will hopefully lead to more potential customers perusing the children’s booths, Petersen said.

“Having this visibility in the community really does make a difference,” she said.

To take part in the fair, children under 15 must develop a brand, create a product or service, build a marketing strategy and then open for customers at the marketplace.

It’s important that children are given opportunities to take their creative ideas and turn them into businesses, if that interests them, Petersen said. Parents should help their children learn how to do that, she added.

“Support them, encourage them. That’s what not just every child, but every human, wants — that support and that encouragement,” Petersen said.

“If you have a dream, or if you have a talent, embrace it, use it to your advantage. [The fair] gives you an opportunity to look inside yourself and see all the gifts that you have.”

The children’s business fair is also a chance for parents to foster a feeling of empowerment in their children, and a way to teach them about the value of hard work.

Joanna Ford’s two daughters both took part last year. Her oldest daughter, Sophia, who has since aged out of the program, sold cookies and cupcakes. Her younger daughter Freya, who will take part in the event this year, sold slimes.

“Usually slimes are cute, and they smell nice, but she sold things like booger slime,” Ford said. “It was things like ‘rabbit retch.’”

Freya will be back at the fair this year selling cookie-making kits.

Ford’s children have always had an ambitious streak, and she said that the children’s business fair has been the perfect opportunity for them to find their footing in their first foray into the business world. It also taught them about all of the background work that goes into bringing a product to market.

“It gives them a lot to think about in terms of costs because there’s a lot of costs involved before you make money. So, it kind of gave them an appreciation for the fact that they had to pay for those costs,” Ford said.

Exposing children to opportunities that allow them to dream big dreams of becoming entrepreneurs or business owners opens up a whole new world to them, Ford added. Even if they don’t end up pursuing careers in business, it teaches them valuable lessons that will help them later on in life as consumers, she added.

Petersen agrees, saying children have the potential to achieve anything if they work hard enough and are given opportunities to learn.

“It’s not something that a lot of kids think about. You think about going to university or getting a career, and those are all fine, but children have so many great talents within themselves, and entrepreneurship gives them the opportunity to work towards a dream of working for themselves, being self-employed and having that entrepreneurial spirit,” she said.

The children’s fair will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Riverbank Discovery Centre on July 22. To register, visit childrensbusinessfair.org/brandon-manitoba.

By Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 14, 2023 at 07:58

This item reprinted with permission from   Brandon Sun   Brandon, Manitoba
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