POCATELLO — Young people from across the Gate City showcased their entrepreneurial spirit at the first-ever Youth Entrepreneur Market.
Thursday’s event was organized by an Instagram and Facebook group called Pocatello Roots. The group has 1,926 followers on Instagram and 70 on Facebook.
With a donation from Pocatello-based not-for-profit Hope for a Better World, the group decided to hold the event to give local youth ages 4 to 18 an opportunity to show off their entrepreneurial ventures.
“We feel like there’s valuable lessons to teach kids with something like this,” said Mattea Landon, the group’s founder. “We have the perception that kids will be valuable members of society when they get older. We wanted to show the community that kids have really cool ideas now and they have something to offer now.”
One young man with ideas to share is 18-year-old Ashton Abel.
Abel is the owner of Dunks Caramel Apple Candies, a venture he started about seven months ago.
Abel has wanted to own a business for as long as he can remember. He recalls going around his neighborhood as a little boy asking people if they needed work done.
As he got older, Abel enjoyed making hard candy. As he started brainstorming ideas for a business, his brothers suggested he sell his candies.
“I started experimenting and went from there,” Abel said.
One of the youngest kids at the market was Rhona Gunter-Conish. At age four, she’s the owner of Rhona’s Jewelry Shop.
Rhona got started making specialty beret hair clips with her mom. She had thought about bringing more products, but she didn’t think the market could handle everything she could bring to the table.
“I was thinking about doing paintings and beading bracelets but that would be too much for the market,” said Rhona.
Another child who’s just getting started, seven-year-old Roman Pernus, owns a face painting business called Roman’s Ravishing Riches. Some of her favorite designs are rainbow, ladybug and Spiderman.
Roman likes face painting because “it’s art on a human.”
Painting stars is a tricky design for her and she spent weeks practicing on her mom, brother and others to make sure it was ready for the market.
Rhona and Roman have other plans as they get older, but Abel wants his business to thrive. His ultimate goal is to become a national brand. Right now, he’s limited to selling his candy at gas stations and small stores. He wants to sell his product in as many stores as possible.
Landon is thrilled with the turnout and she hopes to do the event again in the future so that other like-minded kids can connect.
“This is a way … the community can support each other, and especially support kids as they’re learning and growing at an important age,” Landon said.
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