Kidpreneurs in the Spotlight

I hope you all have been enjoying this “Kidpreneurs in the Spotlight” series! It’s been fun for me to read their stories and write these blogs, and then see how the community online has reacted. So much support for our youth in Money Lit’s online community!

This week I am highlighting Kidpreneur/Teenpreneur, Carina Miller. She is 15 now, however she first started her company when she was 13 years old. She is an artist and she sells her work in our local Chattanooga community. I met her at the Chattanooga Children’s Business Fair in 2019 and was impressed by her art. I plan to buy a piece from her at the next fair. Side note, if you are ever in Chattanooga when this event (so far bi-annually) is going on, you HAVE to stop and check it out. It’s at our downtown library, on the 4th floor, and it’s hard not to give all these kidpreneurs all your money.

Sumatran Tiger by Carina Miller

Here is Carina’s story about her entrepreneur journey over the past two years.

“Hey, I’m Carina, I’ve been selling my art since I was 13 years old and am now 15.  I started out only selling matted original artwork but have now expanded into bookmarks, cards, and sketchbooks all emblazoned with my art as well as many more original pieces matted or framed. The first decision was to get all the purchasing of booth set up and basic supplies out of the way to give the booth a head start in presentation. I used all my birthday and Christmas money the first year for my booth, which helped to soften the debt some. 

The starting costs of an art business are supplies heavy; at one point I was $630 in debt to my parents in preparation for the first large art sale. Yet, after two booth sales the debt was able to be kept between $100-$200 for a year. By the end of my second year the total profit was $300 dollars and I am now safely out of debt with plenty of stockpiled supplies for projects to come. While getting out of debt, I was very careful with my funds, I’ve never liked spending money but now that I am out of the hole, I have more liberty over the quality of my art supplies, which is really nice to have.

The amount of supplies needed to get an artwork from my desk to the customer successfully made this a rocky road. Prioritizing a good booth set up was risky opposed to slowly building it up over time, but I had to just trust that the presentation would save me. It was an uphill battle with the added stigma of “child” artist, the immediate impression someone gets when they hear a 13 year old is an artist can be hard to escape. Art has always been an enormous part of my life, I had to believe that people would enjoy my art enough to allow me to be self-sufficient in creating it. Over time products that are more tailored to my customer base have been added to the booth as I got a feel for the waters. 

Carina Miller with her art on exhibit

As of right now my goals are mostly being self-sustained in all creative endeavors. After that I will begin to save up money for other expenses in my future adult life and hopefully my experience will help in whatever career I choose.  As a yearly goal I would like to donate to various animal conservation programs so that I give back since I do draw a disproportionate amount of endangered animals, which is something I have always valued. At the end of this year’s sales I will be donating a portion of my profit to Big Cat Rescue, a wild cat rescue and rehab facility that fights against the illegal trade and abuse of exotic cat species.  

As a final note to parents… As a kid or teenager, you absolutely need start up money to do well in most business endeavors. For me it was hard to accept money from other people, I’ve always hated feeling dependent upon others, but I’m glad my parents offered, or I would never be where I am right now. In any craft it is vital to also find an entrepreneurial mentor figure whether they are specific to your trade or not, they are really helpful in getting you on your feet. It was a scary thing to start with all those big numbers attached and that long list of to dos, but it paid off and I will keep working this for all it’s worth. 

By the way my business is Inspiration Art by Carina Miller on FB, or inspiration_art_by_carina_m on Instagram. You will next see me at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre on February 21st through March 1st where my artworks will be on exhibit in the Mainstage Lobby.”  

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