A 16-year-old Tuggerawong schoolgirl is inspiring other young people to start their own businesses in a new podcast series launched as part of Youth Week early in April.
Lara Davis is one of six young people to feature in the Youngpreneur podcast, an initiative of the federally-funded Hunter Futurepreneurs program.
Lara began her business, Lovely Little Candles, when she was just 13 and has built it up to become a successful online enterprise which makes her an average of $7000 profit each year.
“The profit varies from month to month depending on how much work I am able to put into the business while still completing my high school studies,” she said.
The Year 11 St Peter’s Catholic College student was inspired to begin her scented candle business by a number of family members who ran successful small businesses.
“I knew nothing before I started so I did a lot of research into suppliers and methods and then gave my parents a 16 page power point presentation on why they should support me.”
Klara requested money from the family for her 13th birthday and used it to buy her first block of materials.
“It’s been a steep learning curve,” she said.
“I started out making them in the kitchen – then I was kicked out and began using the laundry until Dad made me a small studio at the house, which is where I work from now.
“From that first block of materials I made a lot of mistakes and only sold a few candles but it was a start.”
Lara’s first customer was a friend of her father’s, a car mechanic, who saw the candles on display at the family home.
“He started referring other people to me and then I launched a Faceboook page with Mum’s help and it really started to grow from there,” Lara said.
“Mum shared my page with her friends, who in turn shared with their friends and it began to snowball – that’s when the business really skyrocketed.”
Lara sells her candles online and at various markets in six different scents and two sizes.
She is receiving numbers of bulk orders and also provides stock to some stores on the Coast.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen Lara study from home for the last two weeks of Term One and she expects to continue learning from home through next term.
“Transitioning to online learning from home has actually been good for the business,” she said.
“I have more time to work on the candles in between study.”
Lara is unsure of the future of her business beyond Year 12.
“I am looking at more stockists and wholesale orders so we’ll just see how it is going in a couple of years,” she said.
The podcast is an initiative of the Australian Government’s Hunter entrepreneurship facilitator, Cheryl Royle, and Newcastle-based podcast creator, Welcome to Day One.
Royle said that too often, young people, including those who struggle to get, or fit in to, conventional paid work, are told that they are too young to start their own business,
“The Youngpreneur Podcast features really inspiring young people who have started their own business and are making incredible progress,” she said.
Reporter: Terry Collins