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Teen entrepreneurs lead the way
What started out as “fun,” for Perdie Bradford and Logan De Freitas has now turned into a business of beads and bracelets for the teenagers. The two are 13 years old and are eighth grade students attending the Maple Leaf International School in Petit Valley.
Excited about their venture, they spoke to the Business Guardian last Friday.
Offering bracelets made from semi-precious stones to their customer base in T&T, the duo have displayed at the Upmarket, which is a market where local entrepreneurs showcase their goods for sale to members of the public.
Upmarket provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs to capitalise on the purchasing power of dozens of consumers who attend the event.
Even though there are other established competitors who offer products similar to theirs, Bradford and De Freitas are convinced they have a competitive advantage based on price.
Gaining brand loyalty with their brand Yeo Beads is not an issue. Their target market began with students their age but when they looked at trends in sales at the Upmarket, the duo felt the target market could include children and senior citizens.
Bradford said she first started to string beads at the early age of nine but would only do it for friends and family. She only started getting serious about beads at the beginning of this year. And De Freitas said he was never really into making jewelry but being around Bradford piqued his interest.
While their competitors use integrated marketing communications strategy to reach their customers, the two are limited to Facebook, Instagram and word-of-mouth to reach their customer base.
Choosing the right colours to match the taste patterns of their consumers is another strategy adopted by the two, who source their beads both locally and internationally.
Profits are not large compared to their competitors who would have built their brand for decades, but Bradford and De Freitas are not daunted. Capital to start Yeo Beads came from savings they pooled together. Their initial investment was $5,000 and whenever they needed additional money their parents pitched in.
“We don’t necessarily have a specific style of beads but, our prices range from $45 to $75 for one bracelet. Our bracelets are made with beads that are plastic, semi-precious stones and glass. I know some places sell them for a couple hundred dollars. I know I won’t pay a couple hundred dollars for these bracelets,” Bradford said.
Asked whether they purchase the beads in bulk, or by the boxes, Perdie said it is purchased by strands of either 28 or 60 beads.
Bradford who seems to be the strategist and De Freitas, the designer, said the duo has been in business for the last eight months.
Bradford said: “I would always go to Upmarket and I knew it was a good place for people starting off new businesses to get noticed. I knew I always loved going there. I think there are some really interesting things and I thought it might be a good starting place for us.”
Explaining further about the Upmarket experience, Bradford said it is about networking and it is not only about “selling things but sharing them with other people. You’re not only going there to make a profit, to make money but you are going there to share things that you find interesting.”
The feeling of being a successful entrepreneur can be measured through sales, De Freitas said. “I have never been in a selling environment before. It was cool to sell our first bracelet at Upmarket because then you are officially an entrepreneur,” he said.
For Bradford, seeing the crowds come in at about noon felt “empowering.” Asked whether the sales revenue at the end of the day was greater than what they initially started with, the two agreed that “it was a lot greater.”
Like typical local businesspeople, they declined to disclose the actual revenue they made (perhaps fearful of an audit by the Board of Inland Revenue) but they did agree it was a success.
When Bradford, who has one sibling, is not planning or strategising the new business, she attends martial arts twice per week, tennis once per week, volleyball and acting classes.
And when De Freitas, who is an only child, is not designing he is on the beach surfing. He also attends martial arts classes twice per week.
Bradford’s advice to peers who are interested in starting a business: “they should be prepared for a great deal of work and, at times, it can become daunting because there is so much to do in so little time.”
She added that entrepreneurs should love what they are doing and if they don’t, they should not take the risk of being an entrepreneur.