Young Entrepreneurs in TR

The TR Farmers Market is a cornerstone of our local community. With its vast, urban green space sprawling with more than seventy vendors, live music, and hundreds of bustling people in search of farm-fresh produce and homemade crafts and a familiar smile, it is a familiar sight across Trailblazer Park on a typical summer Saturday morning. 

The market prides itself on connecting farmers and small business owners to customers. Whether you buy fresh vegetables, baked goods, pottery, or homemade soaps, you always know who made it or grew it. 

And yet, when you think about connecting with your small city business owners, chances are, you probably don’t picture a nine-year-old wearing stuffed animal scrunchies in her hair. Paige is one of three winners of the TR Farmers Market youth entrepreneur contest.

Paige, along with Claire and Caitryn, were named “Young Entrepreneurs of the Year,” announced on Saturday, July 1st, at the Kids Bike Parade. Winners were selected to sell their crafts for five weeks during July and August. 

“The Young Entrepreneurs contest came from the market’s partnership with Bridge City Coffee,” said Jessica Mullen, Director of the Farmers Market. “The team at Bridge is interested in helping creative kids have an outlet for creativity and learning about small business. The market became that outlet.” 

Eleven competitors submitted pitches for their unique businesses to a panel of judges on June 28th at Bridge City Coffee. Travelers Rest business owners Andy O’Mara, founder of Sidewall Pizza, Alex Sawyer, founder of Sawyer Naturals, and Matt Myer, Director of Operations at Bridge City Coffee, served as board members. 

Paige’s playful scrunchies quickly became a fan favorite. 


“The idea came from gymnastics because I wear a lot of scrunchies and because I thought it would be a fun and unique product to sell,” Paige said. “I love Squishmellows and stuffed animals, and I just wanted something that could bring fun and happiness to kids.” 

Paige started making scrunchies for the girls in her gymnastics class and has since created a growing business, coordinating all the colors of her scrunchies and sewing them with the help of her mom, Latrina. 

“I buy the stuffed animals off of Amazon,” Paige said. “They are unique because each one of them is different. We have ducks, donkeys, hippos, bears, bunnies.” 

Her favorite scrunchie is a green light-up frog which she wears as a bracelet on her right arm. Each scrunchie comes in a purple drawstring bag with Paige’s business card. 

Page is kickstarting her website so her “business can spread worldwide.” With her profits, she hopes to buy more scrunchie supplies and save up for a house or a car. 

Eleven-year-old Claire started sewing headbands three years ago at a sewing camp. Each headband is made with a unique fabric, with a twist! The stretchy headbands come in adult and child sizes to fit almost any head. Not to mention they are comfortable and stylish. 


The idea to sell headbands came to fruition after making several for her mother’s mission trip to Ethiopia. There, her mother partnered with America World Adoption Agency to improve the lives of orphans after they age out of the system. 

Claire asked her mother to take the headbands she had made to the girl’s orphanage. 

“I made headbands for all the girls there, and I think they really enjoyed them. So I came up with the idea to start a business,” she said. 

Claire hopes to save enough money from her sales to go to Ethiopia with her mother on the next mission trip. She has since made other stylish accessories to expand her growing business, including beaded bracelets and jewelry hangers. 

Eleven-year-old Caitryn started making miniature purses after finding a template on Facebook. During a craft party with her friends, she came up with the idea for her business, Homestead Handicrafts. 


“I went with just the purses to a children’s fair, and that’s when I became interested in selling my things. Around the same time, I was also in 4-H, and they had a guy there that taught forging to our county and I was able to attend that class and learn how to forge,” she said. 

Caitryn’s father surprised her with a homemade forge from a blow torch and firebrick. “That’s how we made miniature swords and things,” she said. They hammer out a large, double-headed nail to make the swords, quench it in water, and dip it in oil to polish the blade. 

In addition to miniature purses and miniature swords, Caitryn also paints greeting cards. 

“I’m just very grateful for the opportunity and chance to do this. Most people aren’t able to do anything like this at my age. It’s an amazing opportunity,” she said. 

With her profit, Caitryn would like to donate $100 to the Piedmont Women’s Shelter to support women (and their children) fleeing domestic violence. 

“I would like to get at least that much from my sales so I can give them something. I want to create a good business and encourage other kids to do this as well. I’d love to see other kids doing something like this, giving back to the community.” 

The mission of the Youth Entrepreneur Competition is to create a place for local children to come together in Travelers Rest to display and sell items they have made at home. This encourages children to be independently creative at home, help them get hands-on sales experience in a real-life market setting, and provides an avenue for the community to foster small business. 

“One of the most important parts of our market is that it’s a place for neighbors to connect,” shared Mullen. “If that’s the first place a kid meets a farmer, or if they have a favorite cotton candy vendor, or if they see a weaver making towels for the first time, they are much more likely to get to ask questions of those business owners and experience different types of creativity. It’s especially encouraging when they see other children their age creating – whether that’s tie-dye shirts, cookies or pipe cleaner creations!” 

The Farmers Market lays the groundwork for aspiring business owners. The chance to sell their work alongside established farmers and artisans is invaluable, from the creative process of creating and fabricating a product to market strategy, interactions with the public, handling money and making change, or discussing profit margin. 

Consistency and seeing the details necessary for implementation is the main thing our Young Entrepreneurs learn. They often come to the program with a good idea, but through their preparation for market, they learn how to prepare for market and bring enough inventory. It’s a different ballgame making twenty bags of cookies instead of one,” Mullen said. 

For future entrepreneurs out here, here are some words of advice. 

“Find something that you love to do! When you are creating something authentic, it will attract the right customers to you.” 


Story & Photos by Kylie Cordell

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