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Tween tycoons

Evie Gross falls right into the "tween" category.

At 12, she is already a little too old for some summer camps. But she is still too young to hold a "real" job, like working as a sales clerk or in a fast food restaurant.

But that hasn't stopped Evie (pronounced Eh-vee), a creative seventh-grader who attends Shorecrest Preparatory School. Instead, she started her own soapmaking company about two years ago, first selling to just friends and family. But now Kool Krafts by Evie Gross has an impressive list of customers.

Evie learned how to make soap from a friend and thought it was interesting and creative. "It started out as a fun hobby, and I ended up having so much soap that my family members wanted to buy it from me, so I started a business," she said.

Although Evie does make a profit each year, she did not start the business just to make money. "I don't do it for the money," Evie said. "I like doing this because I always have gifts for my family members and friends. It's a lot of fun to make something and get compliments."

Evie is frugal with what she earns. She first repays her Mom for all the materials needed to make the soap, and then she puts the profits into a savings account for college. Her soaps cost from 75 cents to $7 for a thick bar. But most of the soaps average $4.

Tatiana Baccari, 11, who will be in sixth grade this fall at the Pinellas County Jewish Day School, also has her own business. She makes jewelry. She has handcrafted bead bracelets, ankle bracelets, necklaces and earrings.

Tatiana's business, Tatiana's Tantalizing Treasures, has been around for two years. Her custom-made bracelets range from $10 to $35 depending on what type of beads she uses.

It takes Tatiana 20 to 30 minutes to make each bracelet, and she has sold from 50 to 100 bracelets each year. Tatiana learned how to make bracelets from a woman who works at One Bead Place, a bead store in Largo.

Tatiana also is saving her profits. She plans to donate some of it to charity and the rest she is saving to buy a car when she gets older.

Sometimes their projects do not always come out as well as they want. Both Evie and Tatiana have made mistakes. "When I first started out I wouldn't make the bracelets tight enough and they would fall apart," Tatiana said. "By the time I started selling them, I wasn't making too many mistakes."

"Sometimes when I'm making soaps, I put in too much or too little color," Evie said. "But you can't make too many mistakes when making soaps."

Both girls said they do not have much trouble finding customers for their businesses. Tatiana has a business card that her parents hand out to people that they know. She is busy making bracelets for her parents' friends and their colleagues at work.

Evie also has business cards that she hands out to people she meets. She also set up a booth at a craft fair. Although the booth cost her money, she still earned enough to make it a worthwhile expense.

Just because a child cannot make soaps or jewelry does not mean that they cannot have their own business. Kids can wash cars, mow lawns and help neighbors do work around their house. Just make sure your parents always know where you are working.

"Start something you're interested in and like to do," Evie said, "then the money will come as you're enjoying your work."

_ Jacob Ludin, 11, will be in sixth grade in the fall at Pinellas County Jewish Day School, Clearwater.

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