Interview with 14 Year Old Entrepreneur, Chef Remmi Smith

Chef RemmiChef Remmi Smith is the living embodiment of the Kidpreneurs philosophy, “it’s never too early.” At fourteen years old this dynamic and driven young woman is taking the nation by storm one school cafeteria and teen at a time. Remmi has partnered with Sodexo, a large provider of school lunch programs, to be their student ambassador. As an ambassador Remmi cooks and promotes healthy eating and even has her own brand of salad dressing sold in her local Whole Foods around Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Chef Remmi has always had a passion for cooking from a young age and has parlayed that passion into a full-fledged career. She also hosts her own cooking show, Cook Time With Remmi and has recently authored her first cookbook, Global Cooking for Kids, which is all about healthy cooking from around the globe. Healthy cooking and global cuisine are at the heart of everything Chef Remmi does as they combine her love of cooking with her desire to honor her own roots, being adopted from China.

I recently spoke with Chef Remmi to talk more about all her accomplishments and what she’s working on. When we spoke, she was feeling excited about her recent win of a local business pitch competition, which she had won. The really exciting part? She was pitching a business idea in competition with adults, not teens. Her professionalism, experience and dedication to her vision are clear the moment she speaks. When I ask her what her biggest challenge has been on her journey so far she explains, “Being taken seriously. People see me as a kid and think I don’t take my business seriously. They say, ‘oh that’s cute.’ But I’m very dedicated to my business and work hard at it.”

In fact that challenge is something Remmi explained works in her favor. In the true entrepreneurial spirit she turns a challenge into an opportunity by saying, “in a way being a kid is a great entrepreneurial advantage. I still have all the time ahead of me to fail and all the time I need to work on my business.”

That’s a true statement for someone so serious about their mission of helping educate others on healthy living and eating. Chef Remmi not only cooks healthy and offers a healthy cookbook geared toward parents and teens, she also is an active participant in the Independent Youth Program and the No Child Hungry Programs. It’s hard to image she has spare time for school but somehow Remmi manages it all with great balance and clarity.

What would her advice be for other Kidpreneurs out there? “Start with your passion,” she says. “If you do what you love, you’ll find a way to be successful at it.” That’s good advice for every kidpreneur.

Kidpreneur Rachel Zietz Is Building Better Lacrosse Equipment

RachelRachel Zietz loved Lacrosse but got fed-up with the products on the market that were constantly falling apart and needing to be replaced or repaired. She kept thinking Lacrosse would be a whole lot more enjoyable with equipment that actually worked and lasted for a long time. So she did what any teenage kidpreneur does… she decided to invent it herself! Her company Gladiator Lacrosse manufactures some of the highest quality Lacrosse goals and practice returners on the market today.

So we caught up with this innovator to find out more about Gladiator Lacrosse and how Rachel made it come to life.

How old were you when you started making your first piece of Gladiator Lacrosse equipment and what was it?

I was 13 years old when I created my first two products: a lacrosse goal and rebounder.

 

What gave you the idea to create Gladiator and turn it into a business?

I came up with the idea for Gladiator Lacrosse when I was searching online for practice equipment. I noticed that all the rebounders/goals I have previously owned were not able to stay in quality condition when I used them to practice. I knew that any rebounder/goal I was going to buy would do the same. I decided to then create a version of a lacrosse rebounder/goal that would be able to stand up to all weather conditions and hardcore practicing. Through a 33-week program called the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, I learned how to start, manage, and run a successful business. I designed my products and launched my website to bring great quality practice equipment at a low cost into the homes of lacrosse players all over the country.

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What has been your biggest challenge in getting started and how have you overcome it?

My biggest challenge in getting started with Gladiator Lacrosse would probably be managing my business while keeping up with school, competitive lacrosse, and other extra- curricular activities. I learned that time management skills are very important when trying to balance school, competitive lacrosse, and my business.

Have your parents helped you with your business and what have they taught you?

My parents have done a great job in teaching me the business basics. My father, also being an entrepreneur, has taught me what it takes to start a business, and has helped me along the way by guiding me on how to market my business.

What are your plans for the future; will you keep designing and creating?

In the future, I am hoping to add more to the product line, such as water bottles, compression socks, and other lacrosse related items. I like to include things in my product line that I believe there is a need for. I use my own experience to decide which products to add to the line, because throughout practice and games I realize what types of items would help players excel.

What advice would you give other young Kidpreneurs who want to start their own business like you did?

My main point of advice would be to make sure you are ready to commit. I believe that my business is my child; I have to constantly watch over it and help it grow to become something successful and meaningful in the world. You should also learn perseverance and determination. When someone tells you that you should not start a business because you’re a kid, that you are making a mistake, or it is too hard, that is when you prove to him or her that they are wrong and it is possible to start a business as a kid no matter what anyone says.

Meet The 15-Year Old Innovator Who Reinvented Water

Carter Williamsburg photo Carter Kostler saw some disturbing statistics about childhood obesity that he didn’t like. He witnessed first hand at his own school the rampant consumption of sugary sport and soda drinks by kids and new this was a leading contributor to obesity and diabetes in kids. He decided decided to innovate a solution from something he saw in his own home… fruit infused water. Carter watched his own mom make delicious and healthy fruit infusions in large pitchers at home, but then not being able to take the fruit infused water easily out the door, he’d watch her resort to soda during any on-the-go afternoons. From observing his mom and his desire to help kids have a better solution for tasty drinks, he came up with his original prototype for the Define Bottle at age thirteen. With support from his parents to help with all the leg work of industrial design, patent attorneys and manufacturing, Carter was able to create the perfected Define Bottle.

I caught up with Carter and  asked him some questions about his Define Bottles and the journey to create them.

How old were you both when you got the idea for Define Bottle?

I came up with the idea for the Define Bottle when I was 13 years old. My mother would make fruit infused water every day in big pitchers however, when she left the house she would grab something unhealthy like a soda. I wanted to come up with a healthy, natural way for people to hydrate when on the go. A big part of my mission is to get people of all ages off of sugary drinks such as soda. I sit on the Youth Advisory Board for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation whose goal is to help fight childhood obesity.

What gave you the idea to create them and how did you transform that idea into a business?

I wanted to come up with a healthy, natural way for people to hydrate when on the go. The first thing I did was create a few sketches of my idea and presented it to my parents. Fortunately, they thought it was a great idea and supported going forward with the idea. We went through a lot of work such as finding an industrial designer to bring my idea to life and having to work with a patent attorney to make sure my idea was not already patented. I felt like it really became a business when we had product and I was up late fulfilling orders. It was great seeing the orders come in and knowing that there were customers out there that wanted to order a product that I invented.

How much were your parents involved in your business planning? What did they teach you?

When I came up with the idea for the Define Bottle I was only 13 years old. Although, I had a great idea I needed my parents help navigating through all of the steps to bring my product to market. My parents were great and we all discussed every step so I knew what was going on and could give my input. As I got older I was allowed to make more decisions independently. I am involved with all aspects of the business from customer service, sales, and right down to riding my bike to the post office to drop off packages. For example, I thought our product would be great for Whole Foods and my parents and I discussed it. They drove me to our local Whole Foods and I went in with a bottle and asked to speak to the produce manager. I told him about my product and explained why I thought it would be great in their store and they invited me to come out and do the Whole Foods farmers market. I did the farmers market for a few weeks and sold out every time. I am now on the shelves inside our local Whole Foods and do demos as often as I can.

What has been your biggest challenge in getting started and how have you overcome it?

Manufacturing has certainly been our biggest challenge. When we received our first shipment, the bottles were defective and I was really disappointed. We worked with our industrial designer to find a new manufacturer and now the bottles are perfect. There are a lot of highs and lows when you own your own business. It is a constant roller coaster and you really never know what the next day will bring. I would say that is one of the best and worst parts of being an entrepreneur – you never know what is around the corner. Another challenge has been learning to balance a business and still be a kid. I have had to make a lot of sacrifices in order to make Define Bottle successful but fortunately my friends and family are really supportive. My friends often help me fill orders and get the job done.

You recently filmed an episode on ABC’s Shark Tank what was that like? Were you nervous?

Unfortunately, I can’t say too much about Shark Tank until it airs but yes, I was certainly nervous and am excited to see the episode on March 14th!

What are your plans for the future; will you keep designing and inventing?

Yes! I have new versions ready to come out and will continue to work on my mission of trying to get people off of soda. This past year has been exciting and it may be hard to top. I met President Clinton (he received our first 600 bottles for the attendees of his Health Matters Conference), met the First Lady at the Partnership for a Healthier America conference where I spoke in front of 800 people, filmed for Shark Tank, made Entrepreneur’s top 100 most brilliant companies of the year, and sold thousands of bottles. Being an entrepreneur is exciting – once you start it is hard to stop.

What advice would you give other Kidpreneurs who want to start their own business like you did?

My best advice would be to prepare and have your family’s support. It is important to know from the beginning that there a lot of highs and lows and there is no such thing as overnight success. It takes a lot of hard work and you have to be strong to keep moving forward. Also, expect the unexpected!