Teenage tycoons: N.L. baker, P.E.I. jeweller share the highs and lows of owning small businesses – Saltwire

'In my experience, the good outweighs the bad,' 14-year-old owner of Cakes by Charlotte says
As a teenager in rural Prince Edward Island in the 1980s, options were limited for making money.
The usual mix included babysitting, cleaning, picking strawberries, working at the hay on farms in the summer months, the fish plant, and picking beer bottles out of the ditches.
Today’s teens are operating in a very different world. They are computer literate at an incredibly young age, opening up a global world to them. Many have travelled and experienced cultures beyond the confines of Atlantic Canada.
And then there are the teens who have used their business savvy and built their own little enterprises, turning their hobbies into businesses – all before their 15th birthdays.

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Witless Bay, N.L. resident Charlotte Kenny was just 13 when she started her own business, Cakes by Charlotte.
“When I was thirteen, with encouragement from family and friends, I started a small business selling custom cakes and cupcakes,” says Kenny, now 14.
She made her first custom cake in September 2020. Six months later, she had established her business.
It all started with her own birthday cake.

“I really enjoyed making it, and I thought it turned out pretty well for my first fancy cake. A couple of family members told me I should try selling them,” Kenny said.

“My first few orders were from family friends, but it quickly grew bigger.”
Charlotte runs her business through Instagram and Facebook.
“I started out with just an Instagram account but my mom suggested I try Facebook. Since I started my Facebook page, almost all my orders come from there,” she says.
All of Kenny’s products are made from scratch and she also offers gluten- and nut-free options. She’s now made cakes and cupcakes for many occasions, such as birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers, weddings and more.
A post shared by Charlotte Kenny (@cakesbycharlotte2021)
“Owning my own business has a lot of perks and some downfalls, but in my experience, the good outweighs the bad,” Kenny says.
She loves setting her own hours and likes being able to take time off whenever she needs or wants to.
“I also have met so many amazing people and I’ve had lots of great opportunities from owning my own business,” Kenny said.
She does admit to sometimes struggling with overbooking, which results in less free time.
She’s also not old enough to drive to pick up supplies or deliver orders, so she has to rely on her parent’s help with that.
When asked about her future aspirations, Kenny says she does not plan to expand her business right now.
“It is mostly a hobby of mine that I turned into a way to make money,” she says.
“I plan to stop taking orders when I finish high school so I can focus on school. I just don’t see myself baking as my career.”

Taking one of her hobbies and turning it into a small business has taught her a lot, however.

“I’ve found a way to make my own money and I’ve gained a great sense of responsibility and time management from it,” she adds.
“I’ve had so many opportunities, including working with Youth Ventures and winning its Outstanding Venture Under 17 Award.”
Chloe Schurman, from Summerside, P.E.I., was 11 years old when she established her jewelry business in 2021.
She produces and sells vibrant intricate resin jewelry: pendants, rings, earrings and key chains.

Schurman was inspired to start her business after she received a resin kit for Christmas from her parents.

“After lots of experimenting, I created some earrings and pendants and took them to school. My friends wanted to buy them, and that is how it all started,” she says.
That summer, she decided to join the Young Millionaires Program – a summer business entrepreneurship program available to P.E.I. youth aged nine to 16, which provides youth the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship. The program offers youth training, mentoring, and ongoing support, that will assist them to thrive in an entrepreneurial environment.

When asked what she loves most about being a business owner, Schurman said, “besides making money, I enjoy meeting people and seeing the joy they get from purchasing my pieces.”
She also loves the creativity that comes with it.
“I also really enjoy the creative process of making my jewelry, it’s fun experimenting with different colors, patterns and designs,” she adds.
For Schurman, one challenge with owning her own business at such a young age is not being capable of doing some things and needing to rely on help from others.
Like Kenny, Schurman also says that a business takes up a lot of free time.

“It’s a big responsibility with commitments,” she adds.

“I feel that having the right support is very important, and I think you need to believe in yourself and what you can accomplish, sometimes that is hard to do on your own.”
Her parents, and the Young Millionaires Program, have been a big help with that, she says.
Her future plans include expanding her business, with her next goal to create an online presence and store. Schurman also plans to continue to work in the business field in the future.
For now, she sells her jewelry at the Summerside Farmers’ Market, The Den in North Bedeque, and the Hen House in Traveller’s Rest. She has also sold her jewelry at the Charlottetown Victorian Christmas Market, Point Prim Market, and Summerside Street Eats.

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