Young, business-minded people gathered at the Payne County Expo Center for the Youth Entrepreneur Expo Tuesday night.
Event representative Suzette Barta said the expo is in its second year.
“ ... the mission of it is, basically, to encourage young people who already have a business or who are thinking of going into business,” Barta said.
A wide variety of youth-led businesses were represented, including Cale Byrd’s CB Picks. Byrd buys and sells antiques and collectables that he believes he can make a profit on.
“My dad says I watch too much ‘American Pickers,’” Byrd said.
He said he got the idea from the Discovery Channel show. He began five to six weeks ago, he said.
“I go to garage sales every Friday and Saturday,” Byrd said. “I try to get there Friday because that’s usually when they start and I like to get there early.”
Byrd has an eBay account and has made a profit of 30 bucks so far. The hardest part has been finding unique items, he said.
The coolest thing he has found is a pecan cracker.
“I just bought it a week ago, so I don’t really have a lot of information on it,” he said, “but I’m guess it’s from the 60s or 70s.”
The 13-year-old said his dad helps him pick items he might be able to resell.
“I might even say he’s better than me,” Byrd said.
He has big plans as his business progresses.
“I eventually want to have a storefront, hopefully when I’m in my twenties, and I also want my online store to start off,” Byrd said.
Another young entrepreneur is using her musical talent.
Bridget Carroll, 16, runs Owner of a Lonely Harp in Stillwater. She received her first harp for Christmas as a child.
“I think I was about 11 and I started that day,” Carroll said. “I didn’t know how to tune it, but I just tried to play as best as I could and somebody showed me how to tune it and it went from there.”
Five years later, she takes lessons in Tulsa now and has progressed to a bigger and better harp.
“I really like Irish music,” Carroll said. “I’ve liked it forever. So, when I got this harp, the only thing I could think about was playing all these tunes for fun with my friends and then my teacher surprised me one day.”
Her teacher suggested she play as a business. Carroll balkedn at the idea at first, but then began taking bookings in March or April, she said.
Since then, she has performed at a brunch, four concerts in May and most recently a reception.
“The first event was really scary,” Carroll said. “It was outdoors, which I’d never played outdoors before. I was mic’ed for the first time and I think there were 150 people there, maybe.”
She got the crowd engaged and has loved doing it since.
“A lot of people like it,” Carroll said. “They say the harp’s a really nice addition for background music. It’s not something that you have to pay attention to the whole time, but it’s really nice to have for lulls in conversations and stuff like that.”
She would eventually like to pursue music education in college and then teach others to play the harp.
While Carroll and Byrd are relatively new to their business ventures, Grayson Abner, 13, is in his third year as owner of Grayson’s Grottos.
“My dad and my grandpa were both into woodworking, so this seemed kind of natural to start a business along the lines of woodworking,” Abner said, “but my sister actually had a business, also and she was telling me about how much fun she was having and the money she was making and just what she was learning about it.”
He decided to give it a go.
“The first thing I ever made was probably the bat house,” he said. “The bat house and the bluebird house were my very first designs.”
He took his houses to the Farmer’s Market in Edmond and sold eight houses his first day. He was surprised with the success.
“I just figured I would do it for a summer at the Farmer’s Market, but it’s kind of progressed,” Abner said.
He now has big plans for the business, including an eventual storefront and an expansion into furniture and interior design.
“I’ve started breaking into the squirrel feeders, the bluebird kits and, most recently, I’ve been doing cutting boards, also,” Abner said.
Barta said she is impressed with the young entrepreneurs and their knowledge of business terms and how they apply them.
All youth set up booths at the Payne County Expo Center and were judged for first, second and third places. Prizes included $50 for first, $25 for second and $10 for third.
Entry fee was $10 and included the juried show, dinner for the participants and their family, three workshops dealing with social media marketing, a presentation from Travis and Presley, the Great American Dog, and a mentor mixer where five local business representatives interacted with the junior business execs.
The event was sponsored by Oklahoma State University, the Payne County Extension Office and Meridian Technology Center’s Center for Business Development. Funding was received by the CREC Foundation and Stillwater Frontier Rotary, Barta said.
“I hope we reach more young people,” Barta said. “I think there’s more young people out there doing business type of things and anything we can do to encourage them, that’s what we’re here for.”