Cayla Tucker, 10, and Kennedy Turner, 9, are entrepreneurs who have developed a line of bracelets, but they are selling more than a simple product. They are using their craft to promote an ideal.
The two founders of T&T Bracelets offered their wares in a popup display at The Villager Gift Shop, 2007 Ridge Road in Homewood, during the Miracle on Martin holiday event Saturday, Dec. 15. They were there with their mothers, Kashanna Eiland of Homewood and Dominique Jordan Turner of Chicago's Beverly neighborhood, providing support.
"We started our business as friends, and we just wanted to do something together that made a change in people's lives," Cayla said. "We did this line to inspire people to love the skin they're in."
Their bracelets are made with multicolored beads, with many shades of brown interspersed with various shades of pink, blue and red.
"I know a lot of people are like, 'I don't look good. I don't like my skin color. I wish I was lighter or I wish I was darker. I wish I was taller. I wish I was shorter,'" Kennedy said. "Me and Cayla, we're practically perfect how we are, and I want everybody else to feel like that, too. Everybody should have confidence in themselves."
The message and the product apparently appealed to customers, too. Turner, Kennedy's mother, said the girls had sold six bracelets — to both women and men — in the first hour they were there.
The girls have taken their business seriously. After developing the first sample bracelets this past summer, they held a party and invited guests to try the product. They conducted a survey to get feedback, plotted the results on a graph and used the information to refine the product.
"It took a lot of time and effort and labor to get into what we're doing," Cayla said.
They also have paid attention to other important aspects of business, networking and marketing.
They provided prospective customers with hand-signed postcards that include their social media sites (TNTbracelets on Instagram, Tucker N Turner on Facebook) and the business website, www.tntbracelets.com, where they accept online orders.
The opportunity to set up shop in a downtown Homewood store came when The Villager owner Valerie Warnsby met the girls at the third annual Girls Entrepreneur Expo sponsored by Breakthrough Ministries in Chicago. Warnsby was impressed with the two young businesswomen.
"I invited the girls to set up a popup shop to support their venture and introduce them to other young girls and boys in Homewood," Warnsby said. "I was extremely impressed with their desire to build upon a common hobby and as BFFs create a business. I thought what a perfect fit for the Miracle on Martin Street — a celebration of family and community during the holiday season."
Turner said the girls were grateful for the opportunity.
"When they found out, they were jumping up and down," she said.
It was more than a sales opportunity, though. Turner said the girls were paying attention as Warnsby worked with customers in the shop.
"They were listening to her engage with the customers. That's how you learn," Turner said. "If they didn't sell a bracelet it would be worth it because they got a chance to see entrepreneurship in action."