Niagara Children’s Business Fair proves popular

Gabbie Bilodeau and one of her eco-friendly grocery bags.
Gabbie Bilodeau shows off one of the eco-friendly shopping bag she made under her brand, Earthly Turtles. Marks – Photo

By Tristan Marks

Meet the millionaire entrepreneurs of tomorrow, today.

Saturday Nov. 9 was the date for the inaugural Niagara Children’s Business Fair, which saw folks pile into the Balls Falls Centre for Conservation to peruse the wares on sale within. The vendor market was the capstone for a journey that saw several kid entrepreneurs- kidpreneurs for short- learn and experience creating their own business.

The fair was created by Cathy Bouwers and Jessica Estabrooks to be a completely non-profit, educational experience for children.

The idea first came from Estabrooks, who wanted to give her son Elliot a practical, yet fun lesson on entrepreneurship.

“This whole thing started as an idea for an experiential learning opportunity,” Estabrooks said. “I believe in creating habitual learning skills early.”

When she found that there were a lack of these opportunities for kids in Niagara, Estabrooks reached out to her friend and colleague, Bouwers. Together they planned what would evolve into the Niagara Children’s Business Fair by partnering with the Acton Children’s Business Fair to bring the world-wide educational event to Niagara.

The kids attended a pre-launch event in October, where local Niagara entrepreneurs taught them everything from product creation, to social media marketing in a face-to-face, small group setting. From there, the kidpreneurs applied these lessons towards creating their own business. This all culminated with the Nov. 9 fair, where the children showed-off their hard work by offering it to real customers.

Among the businesses were a candle-maker, a producer of eco-friendly grocery bags, a stuffed-animal crafter and even a team of comicbook artists, just to name a few of the creative minds at work. The fair was well-attended right up until the end.

“There’s definitely going to be something next year,” said Brouwers. “We’ve had tons of support from the community and a lot of parents are on board. It’s great.”

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