Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Our Children are Amazing!

I know it's been ages again since I last wrote but we have been busy here in the Armon household!!

I thought I would introduce you to my little entrepreneur Charlotte who is six....sorry Charlotte I know you're nearly seven!

About eight weeks ago I started a project with my young homeschooler that we entitled 'Entrepreneurial Studies'.  The task was to find something that my daughter could make, invent or cook that she could then market and sell to others.  The idea in my head being a little stall that Nanny and Grandad came to visit took pity on her and bought everything...you know what I am talking about! It was a fun lesson in owning and running a business but in a fun way for a little one. (I underestimated my child!!)

Anyway so Charli asks can she use my old sewing machine.  Now don't be fooled just because I own a sewing machine does not mean I can sew a stitch!! My parents bought me the machine when I was just 13 years old in the hope I think that it would encourage me in my needlework classes. As much as sewing always appealed to me my sewing teacher did not have the same high hopes for me, in fact positively groaned when I walked into either her cooking or sewing classes but I digress.  I agree and pulling the old Frister & Rossman machine out it whirrs into action.  I teach Charlotte how to machine a straight (ish) line and to turn the corner and then with a pile of material leave her to it.

Three hours later the machine is still going and I pluck her off it and send her to bed, she does not want to go but finally her eyelids drop and she is asleep.   I wake up the following morning with a start, I can hear the machine thundering at speed.  Worried that she might put a needle through her finger or some other such thing I rush out to her.  In front of me is Charlotte beaming 'Look what I made Mum, it's a lavender bag'  She had pulled a load of our lavender out of the garden, sewn a square, stuffed the not so dry lavender into it and sewn it up and was in the process of adding buttons and lace as 'decoration'.

I looked closely at her work and was simply gobsmacked.  Her lines of sewing perfectly straight and even and the idea really solid.  By the afternoon she had made 15 bags and we had picked all the lavender from the garden and set about trying to dry it.

What we have now realised about lavender is that there's lavender and then there's LAVENDER!!  Charlotte now gets her lavender from a wonderful company called Whychwood Lavender & Herb Farm and pays for it out of the business!

Disaster then struck when my prehistoric machine was brought crashing to the floor breaking the wheel.  Charlotte was desperately upset and I knew on our lowly income I would not be able to replace it for her.  A friend came to her rescue seeing what a little talent she was and purchased another machine for her on Trademe (Thank you so much).  Charlotte was absolutely over the moon and the following week when the machine arrived it wasn't long before the familiar hum of the machine started up once more, albeit a quieter hum!

The ideas over the next week poured out my little girl, with pin cushions, wrist cushions and my absolute favourite her Tooth Fairy Scented Pillows and Love Heart Message Pillows.

Now coming back to the fact that this was originally a home school project I soon realised that the next step of having a stall to sell her crafts to Nan & Grandad was not going to cut it.  We got in touch with the wonderful people at Orewa Craft Market who I think with slight trepidation said yes to my little girl.

For the next week after her learning she worked on her little ideas and making her bags.  I found her so focused and enthusiastic, you could almost see the sparks of ingenuity and creativity flying out of her little brain.  We also worked together on the marketing side of the company.  Something I also intended to keep simple because of her age but she wasn't having that either and we set up Charlis Crafts facebook page.   Everyday we check it together and I read her all the comments and messages and she dictates to me what she wants to write.  Or at least that's how it worked in the beginning, now she is so interested in what is going on and so keen to work on the computer we have changed places and although it takes quite a bit longer she writes her own messages, slowly but surely helping with spelling and comprehension too....this project just gets better!

We also designed little business cards to attach to her work as we thought it would be fun for people to know who she was and what she made.  This was great fun time on the computer choosing fonts, colours and words, it will be thrilling for her when the cards turn up on the courier.  The cards also paid for out of profits from the business.

The craft fair went really well and she sold nearly everything that she took along well about 3/4 of it anyway.  It was at this point Charli decided that she wanted to be able to give something back and decided that 10% of her profits would go to our local church towards our heating fund.  I have talked to her about giving something back so many times in the past whether it's your time or money.  It was very thrilling to know that what we had talked about had resonated with her and now that she could she wanted to give back.  After the fair she stood up in church and presented her little envelope and I know it made her feel good and that she had done something that had really made a difference.  (I was ever so slightly proud ;-)

The Scented Tooth Fairy Pillows are the idea that's really taken off now.  Charlotte has 10 orders to make at the moment plus a local dentist has asked if they can stock them for their clients.  I am astounded by my daughters tenacity and talent for sewing.  I would like to take credit but she definitely doesn't get it from me.  I am creative but not in the same way.  It has made me think of her in a totally different way.  Our children, all of our children have amazing talents and gifts and it is totally thrilling when you discover them.  It has been such a thrill to watch her grow with this and watch how seriously she takes her little business.

I realised that I had obviously taken her as far as I could with the sewing so I found her an amazing sewing teacher Diane Lemmon.  She used to run the Bernina shop in Takapuna and has been teaching students for many years.  I found it impossibly hard to find a teacher as they all came back with the same answer of 'no' to teaching such a young girl, except Diane who was prepared to see how it went. Charlotte had her first lesson a couple of weeks ago and sat thrilled for 3 hours straight as Diane taught her.  Afterwards Charlotte looked so content, like someone had fed her inner soul.  It was a delight to behold.  I would love her to have a lesson every week but with money tight she is having a lesson once a month for three hours which is fabulous.

So eight weeks on her little business is self sustaining, she is even making enough to pay for her sewing lesson (not that she does!) and announced today that she is saving to take us on holiday to Australia.  We have some dear friends out that way and I am always harping on about how much I want to see them.  According to Charlotte she wants them to meet us on the Goldcoast so we can go to all the theme parks together.  Six weeks ago I would have said 'Don't be daft Charli'  now well I am learning that children are quite the most remarkable little people and you should never underestimate them or their determination. 

It's been an amazing project and well I imagined it would be finished by now, having learned the basics of business, handling money, stock, banking, wages (She paid Rosie to pick lavender!) etc (All of which we did at a simple level) To say nothing of the English, Math and other subjects we managed to work into this project, however really it seems to just be beginning.  Charlotte has no intention of this project coming to an end and now when we finish our learning she sits quietly sewing her little creations, checking her messages and being an industrious little thing. 

I learned so much about my daughter but the biggest lesson I learned was to never underestimate your child and what they are capable of, regardless of their age. 

Charlotte was interviewed for the local newspaper about her efforts this week and I was so proud of how she spoke to the Kerry (the man doing the interview).  It will definitely be one for the scrap book!

CHECK OUT CHARLI'S SHOP AT http://charlis-crafts.myshopify.com/

Have a Great week!


Kate x


  1. Good on you Charlotte, keep up the good work!

  2. Good job :) i like your blog posts. Happy blogging!


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