Last Friday morning, I was having fun with my older son Elijah in our playroom. At just 5 years old, Eli has always been a kind hearted, intuitive child with a hero's spirit. He also loves Batman, costumes, gymnastics, and giving me a virtual heart attack every other time I hear, "Mom, watch THIS!"
We were having fun playing together, when suddenly Eli stopped and looked at me with very serious, imploring eyes.
"Mom," he said thoughtfully, "I think when I get older, I want to have a business, too."
The Seed is Planted
Admittedly, I was a little bit surprised. After all, our business is often what delays playtime by "5 more minutes." Our business is why mom has to stay up late or get up early. Eli is no stranger to the fact that Handcrafted HoneyBee is a lot of work!
But this wasn't the time to remind him of those things. This was a moment to dream.
"Awesome!" I said. "What kind of business will you have?"
He paused. "I don't know," he said. "Something that will help people. Kids, actually. Something that will help kids."
"Okay," I said. "Let's think about it together and figure something out. If you want help with your idea, I'd be happy to talk more about it with you."
"Okay!" he grinned. And that was that.
Until it wasn't.
Later that night, after my husband was home from work, we did what we always do: catch up as a family about the day's events.
Of course, the business idea came up—and we decided to dig a little deeper. Eli reiterated that he wanted it to be a business for kids, and as we talked more, it was clear that at the heart of his idea was a desire for kids to feel special.
He wasn't quite sure exactly how to bring that vision to life. We talked for a bit about different ways we could help kids feel special, and after a little bit of brainstorming together, we were reminded about one of Eli's favorite things in the entire world: feeling like a superhero.
That's when the idea was born: Eli's business could sell capes. But not just any capes. These capes would be special, just like the kids that would wear them.
Instead of the typical superhero symbol, these capes would have special symbols that represent different gifts.
Like reading. Or math. Or music. Or writing. Or athleticism. Or kindness. Or courage.
We thought it was a fantastic idea.
The Business Meeting
Robert and I decided that we wanted to encourage this creativity in Eli's heart and see if it was something he truly wanted to pursue. We asked my parents if they could babysit our younger son, and on Sunday morning we took Eli out to breakfast for our very first "business meeting."
Over pancakes, we talked about some of the things we could do to support his idea. I could help him set up a website (Etsy shop) and work with him to make some of the designs. We could give him some starting money to get the idea off the ground. We could help show him how to take photographs and figure out how much each cape would cost to make and work with him to make videos about why each gift was so special.
With each moment, his eyes got brighter and brighter, until finally he couldn't help but burst out, "I thought this would be something I'd need to wait to do until I was older…but you're saying I could do it now!!!"
He couldn't hold his excitement in for the rest of the day.
There were a few details we'd need to figure out before we really got started.
For example, who would make the capes? I'm definitely not talented with a sewing machine, so we'd need to find someone else to do it. However, Eli had an idea.
We'd ask the very person who had made many personal capes for Eli already: Eli's grandmother Annette.
He called her later that day to ask her if she'd be willing to make a starting batch of 20 capes for Eli to try out his business idea. She was thrilled to say yes!
We'd still have to work out specifics (like type of material, color, how we'd get the "gift" design onto the cape, etc), but he'd made the first step.
On Monday, Eli and I sat down for a brainstorming session. We had to think of a name for this business.
We wrote everything down. I didn't want him to feel like any of his ideas weren't valuable, although I definitely had my favorites.
• The Cape Shop
• Welcome to the Cape Shop
• Super Capes
• Eli's Capes
• SuperHeart Capes
• SuperGift Capes
In the end, it came down to two: SuperHeart Capes and SuperGift Capes. But Eli felt very strongly about SuperGift Capes. "Because it's all about the gifts that God has put in kids' hearts!" he argued. And I couldn't think of a single thing wrong with that argument.
SuperGift Capes was born.
Experiment and Encouragement
As parents, it's important to us that this is something that Eli is doing because he wants to do it. He's entering the time in his life when he begins to learn who he is, what he loves, and what really motivates him.
SuperGift Capes is a way that we can help encourage him to try things that interest him. If he feels done after this first run of 20 capes (even if they sell out!), then that will be the full extent of his business—and that's okay with us.
If he feels like he wants to keep going and see if we can sell more, then we'll encourage that, too.
The teacher in me is already planning the lessons we can incorporate (a math lesson on calculating the cost to make the cape, for example). And, of course, we can use the business to nourish other things he's shown a great deal of interest in, like photography and videography.
It's important to give kids a chance to experiment with who they are and who they want to be. Who knows—it might give them a chance to find out their "Why" at an early age.
So why am I writing about this venture here, on a blog where we are typically writing about Inspiring Girls to Dream Big®?
Because I think the lesson applies to other experiences we have as parents with our children. It's important for us to nourish these dreams even when they are very young—to let kids try on different paths and goals and ideas.
It's important that they know that it is okay to have a Big Dream, even at 5, and that they can get started now.
It's also important that they know that it is okay to start down a path, realize it isn't what they want, and change their minds.
The more years I am a mother, however, there is one thing of which I am growing more and more certain: they take our cues from us.
How we react to new ideas, how we react to failure, how we engage new challenges, how we problem-solve to make things work…their eyes are on us. Our kids may not end up doing what we do, but they will likely end up doing things how we do them. They're always paying attention.
As a parent, it feels like a big responsibility. But maybe—just maybe—it can also be a lot of fun.
If you'd like to follow Eli's adventure as we make & sell his first 20 SuperGift Capes, you can find Eli's new business on Facebook here. We're hoping to have capes for sale on his website by October 1, 2016!