Cookie Queen: Tenacious tween travels on her own dough
JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Ava Kelly might be one of the lucky ones. Her first foray into the business world has been a bona fide success. As an entrepreneur she is 1-for-1 after the launch late last year of her cookie-in-a-jar novelty item. It was a huge success. In just a few months, Ava made $1,500, selling 150 of her homemade Mason Cookie Jars.
Along the way, Ava has learned more than a few valuable lessons—capital outlay versus return on investment, the unpredictability of market fluctuations, and the importance of hitting sales projections. It’s all become routine for the young lady who admits she was bit by the entrepreneurial bug solely as a means to fund her penchant for travel.
And, full disclosure, we should probably mention that Ava Kelly is 10 years old.
How the diva of dough got her start
Ava’s cookie career was launched out of necessity. She wanted to see New York City. Her mother, Caryn Cook, often travelled there for business and Ava became dead set on seeing the Lion King on Broadway for spring break.
“Sounds good,” mom said, “let me know when you have enough money to do that.”
Caryn knew it was the perfect opportunity to teach her young daughter a lesson in not only the value of money, but also the importance of setting goals and achieving them. She also knew her daughter. A more headstrong little girl the world has not known.
Just last week, in fact, the determined young businesswoman was sent to the principal’s office…again…for being “bossy and hard-headed.”
But mom has seen the way her daughter responded to the challenge of earning her own way to Broadway. While most of her peers are getting hooked on technology (smart phones, tablets, and the like), Ava has learned the value of hard work.
“It was hard for her, it’s difficult for any 10-year-old kid to delay gratification,” Caryn says. “But she followed through. She was motivated enough to work and wait for three months for her reward.”
Reward came on April 8, when Ava and her mom caught a performance of Lion King at the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City. Since they saved money on airfare not traveling to NYC, Eva treated them both to tickets and overnight accommodations. Doing it all on her own dime made it a special night for Ava. Her mom couldn’t have been prouder.
Ingredients to success
Ava is now inspired to travel to Italy. That will take a whole lot more cookie jar sales, but she’s up for it. By day, the plucky tween attends the fourth grade at Colter Elementary, and by nights and weekends, she mans her production assembly line or hits the streets with her point-of-sale retail stand.
A little marketing savvy combined with a ‘sticktoitiveness’ that is 100% Ava attitude is working so far. Bill Gates launched Microsoft from his garage; Ava Kelly’s cookie jar empire began in her bedroom.
“I only make cookies when watching cartoons. The cartoons make the cookies delicious,” Ava says, as she works her own assembly line while sporting the latest in business attire: pajamas.
When she’s properly inventoried, Ava sets up shop at places like Albertsons, Whole Grocer, and Alpine Market. All winter, she endured bitter cold in parking lots without complaining. She was snowed on but never snowed under.
And she learned fast. After just a few days of retail experience, Ava figured out she could make a little more by rounding up. When customers need change, Ava fumbles around in her “cash register”—a cowboy boot filled with waded up bills—long enough that eventually they’ll say, “That’s alright, sweetie, just keep it.”
One day, Ava came home from a hard day’s work and exclaimed, “Mom, we’re losing sales. People say they don’t have cash. We need to have a Square.”
So mom got her a card swiper to process credit card sales. Ava also has online support now with her Kids Travel Channel website.
As wise and mature as Ava has become already, there are occasional reminders she is still learning.
“I originally loaned Ava about $400 in startup capital to make her first 160 jars. She paid me back. When it was time to reinvest her profits, it was a difficult concept for her to grasp,” Caryn admits.
A recent conversation went like this:
“But I don’t want to buy the ingredients with my money, mom. I want you to buy what I need,” Ava said.
“You will get the money back after the jars sell, Ava,” mom said.
“Exactly. That’s what I’m saying. I already have the money. Why would I need it back?” Ava insisted.
“You don’t get it,” mom explained. “You are investing in more jars, more ingredients. So you will eventually be making three times more than what you had.”
“Oh,” Ava replied.