This is the second "Balloon Zoom Spotlight," which features a Q&A from great entrepreneurs (kids and adults!) we can all learn from.
Hayleigh Scott launched her business, Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms, on the web when she was only ten. Four years later she's filling daily orders (from the United States and abroad!) for her hearing aid jewelry. And Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms has become a stellar example of companies that give generously to others.
Q: How and why did you start Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms?
A: When I was little, I attended a school for the deaf and hard of hearing. I noticed that a lot of kids tried to hide their hearing aids behind their hair. I wanted to make my hearing aids shine and be fancy. I wanted to be proud of them.
I came up with the idea for hearing aid charms when I was five years old. I drew some pictures and shared them with my mom. She thought it was a cute idea, but she didn’t understand how the charms worked, and she didn’t understand that I really wanted to pursue it.
When I was 8, I sat down and drew better pictures than I had when I was five. Then, my mom understood the idea, and was able to help me start my business.
Q: How has your business grown since you started it?
A: I started Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms when I was eight. Since then, I have not only launched my website, but also opened an Etsy store.
I also have distribution companies that share what I do internationally, as well as in the United States.
Q: Would you recommend Etsy to other kid entrepreneurs?
A: YES!!!! Opening an Etsy shop has almost doubled my sales. It is super user friendly. I set up an account, chose a store name (HayleighsCharms), and began posting items for sale right away. You can sell items on the site with very little cost to you. You can charge for shipping. It is much less expensive than starting your own website and linking to PayPal.
Q: What is the most challenging thing about running a business?
A: The most challenging thing about running a business is advertising. Advertising is very expensive. Because I donate most of my profits, I have to find creative ways to let people know that my business exists.
Having excellent customer service and products is critical. You must respond quickly to emails and orders and get them to the customer in a reasonable time. It can be tricky to balance school, homework, business, family and friends, but when you love what you do, you will take the time to work this out.
Q: Which charities does Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms support?
A: I donate 10 percent of all sales to schools for the deaf and hard of hearing. In addition to that, I make contributions to fundraisers, museums and conventions around the world.
Q: What is the best business decision you ever made?
A: There are a couple of business decisions that have really made a difference for me.
One of them was starting a website. I think when people who were unfamiliar with my company went online, it validated a “kid's” business.
Another was pursuing patents. (Hayleigh’s charms and tube twists are patent-pending). That is something I could not have done without my parents. They arranged meetings for me with a patent attorney. They acted as my financial backers and kept track of the costs involved for pursuing a patent, as well as starting a website, and purchasing supplies. I knew that the bills were adding up, but they had me repay them and let me know when I had finished paying off my loan.
Finally, I think that being genuine, really caring about each customer, and developing relationships has been a really critical part of my business. I have really been fortunate to get to know people that work with HLAA (Hearing Loss Association of America) and AGBell (Alexander Graham Bell). Both of these organizations have large conventions and I have been invited to participate in these conventions as an exhibitor. It is so important to know who your target audience is and pursue that market.
Q: Have you made mistakes that you think our readers could learn from?
A: Yes. For the past six years, I have worked to send out orders within 48 hours. This has been really stressful. I am updating my website to show that I will send out orders only on certain days. I think that when you rush, you make more mistakes. It is really important to be thoughtful and thorough.
Q: What advice would you give other kids who want to start a business?
A: You need to have an inspiration and the pull or drive to pursue the idea. But most importantly, you have to believe in what you are doing.
I also think that it is important to just start. I know that is strange to say, but so often people wait to start a business until the product is perfect. My dad once told me “Production to Perfection.” This was a really wise piece of advice.
I have gone through three stages in producing the tube twists that I currently sell. I originally made the tube twists out of material with wire inserted inside of them. Then they were produced with a combination of materials that allowed them to be flexible and non-toxic. But they still broke with a tough tug.
Finally, Westone partnered with me to develop a machine so that I can produce my products out of silicone, so they are incredibly durable and non-toxic just as I had hoped! This final product stage never would have happened if I hadn’t brought the tube twists to a conference and shared them with the incredible people at Westone.
Want to learn more about Hayleigh's Cherished Charms?
Visit Hayleigh's website, or Etsy store. Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms is also on Facebook.