When I was a little girl I would come up with business ideas. I would sit around and daydream about things that I could sell. I would see things out in my everyday life and think to myself, “that would be a good business.” Although it might seem silly to some people, it was enjoyable for me.
I started my first business when I was nine years old. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. She was (and still is) a remarkable artist and craftswoman.
One day she taught me how to make dream catcher earrings. Do you know what a dream catcher is? In Native American culture, a dream catcher is a handmade object based on a hoop, incorporating a loose net (it looks like a spider’s web). There is a traditional belief that a dream catcher filters a person’s dreams, trapping the bad ones and letting only the good ones through.
Anyways, my grandmother got the idea for us to make these earrings and I absolutely loved mine. I wore them to school the next day and got so many complements. One teacher loved them so much and when I told her that I made them, she asked if I could make her a pair as well. My earrings business was born that day! After that I would take orders from teachers and students at school and go home in the evening and make more earrings.
I didn’t charge much, but I remember that at the end of the month I had over $250! I had never seen that much cash in my little life, and I was so excited that I was able to make people happy with something that I created. There is something so wonderful about doing something that no one else has thought of and creating something and sharing it with people (and getting paid for the effort!).
As I got older, I started to put ideas of business out of my mind. My love of helping people started to draw me toward the medical field, and I thought that I would eventually become a doctor. I was a nerdy kid and I got many invitations to go to camps and events because of my nerd skills. When I was a junior in high school, I got an invitation to a month long business program. The program was competitive but was held all over the U.S. at very prestigious colleges. Now, at first, I wasn’t interested in it at all. But my parents said that it might be a good experience for me, even if I didn’t want to go into business. I would still get to spend a month away from home with all expenses paid, and maybe it would lead to other opportunities at that college down the road.
Needless to say that I was accepted to the program and got to spend a month in Minneapolis at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson Business School. It was such a great experience and completely changed my life. I spent the month with 30 young talented people, many that I count as friends today. Most importantly, it reignited my love for entrepreneurship. The highlight of the program was when my team of six won the product marketing competition at General Mills headquarters beating out the other four teams.
At the end of the program we were all told that if we wanted to attend college there after we graduating high school, we would be offered a very large scholarship. Not long after, I decided that I wanted to make the University of Minnesota my college home and decided to major in Marketing.
Next week I will talk about what happened after I started college.