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This 10-Year-Old’s $2 Million Amazon Business Is Leaving Competitors In The Dust

HenryMakesButtons

In fourth grade, Henry Burner came up with a terrific idea. His class had a trading-post unit–focusing on “whatever the frontier happened to be at the time we had a frontier,” he says–in which students would use beads to buy goods made by their classmates. Henry’s mother, Darcy, had some hand-operated button-making equipment, the result of three failed runs for a House seat. Henry says, “I proposed, ‘Let’s make some buttons,’ because I had fond memories of when I was really good at making buttons for my mom’s campaign.”

Most kids brought in baked goods and almost no one made durable items. Henry’s buttons–with messages like “I ❤ Minecraft” and “Fall City Elementary”–were a smash. “Almost every kid bought one, meaning I ended up with like half of all the beads in the entire school,” he says. He asked his mother if this might be a real way to make money, and with her support, he started to sell buttons at farmer’s markets.

Even then, he had a unique spin: He brought a battery-powered ink-jet printer along, and would produce custom buttons on the spot. He grossed about $1,000 that first summer. That led him to wonder how well he’d do outside the farmer’s market season, and he started to distribute to local businesses and online via Amazon.

Now, in a retail storefront about 45 minutes east of Seattle, in the small town of Carnation, Washington, you can walk into Buttonsmith and find a wide selection of refrigerator magnets, brightly printed lanyards, and those retractable reels commonly used to attach employee badges. But that’s mostly just for the locals and tourists, who drop by on their way to a nearby farm to pick pumpkins or strawberries.   Read more…

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Pattern Maker, Instructor & Author

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