Text and Photos by Ray Balogh
LEESBURG — Two young local business owners were rewarded for their entrepreneurialism Monday, Aug. 10, in Leesburg.
Lillian Howard, 8, and Lynk Klinefelter, 15, were the recipients of the first $500 awards given by Matthews’ Painting Co. under its new Young Entrepreneur Scholarship program.
The contest was open to children aged 8 to 17 who live in Kosciusko County. They had to complete an online application describing their business and its customer base, type of products or services offered and their prices, financial need to start or expand the business and “what’s cool about your business.”
Winners were selected “based on a review of their business plan and presentation of their business plan,” according to the company’s website, www.matthewspainting.com.
Lillian, daughter of Dan and Frankie Howard of North Webster, submitted “Creations by Lilly,” the business she started in May 2020. She sells concrete molds of frogs and other decorative images at the Syracuse Artisans and Farmers Market and “I try to be there every weekend.”
She took interest in the artwork when “my grandpa got me a frog mold. I thought it was cool. So I took my own money and bought some more molds.”
The dream coincided with opportunity, thanks to her father’s business, a pre-casting concrete company located in North Webster. “She is stuck in my shop all summer,” he said.
Lillian’s initial production run totaled 120 items, which she took to the Syracuse market. “I sold a bunch of them” on her first Saturday, she said. Dan said he hopes to start a Facebook page for “Creations by Lilly” in the near future.
Part of Lillian’s business plan involves what to do with the money. She deposits 30% of her net proceeds in the bank for long-term savings, parlays 30% back into the business and keeps 30% for her discretionary income. She gives the other 10% to charity, and has thus far donated to help a local family adopt a child.
For others her age contemplating launching a business, she advised, “You need to have a business plan before you do it, and you have to have a plan to sell.”
Lynk, son of Brandon and Kassy Klinefelter of Warsaw, has plied his business, “Life Dips,” for five years now. He creates wooden wall hangings and other items inscribed with positive messages, which he sells for $5 to $8 apiece.
“I was inspired by a random Facebook post,” he said. He sprays the wood with a primer and dips the item in a tub of water with a fllm of enamel paint floating on the surface. Then he finishes the piece with a coat of Rust-Oleum.
The items invariably carry positive messages, such as “Live Laugh Love,” “Think Happy Be Happy,” “Live Simply,” “Be Still My Heart” and “Dream Big.”
“The most challenging part” of production was discovering “what colors don’t work,” Lynk said, citing brown as a nonstarter.
Lynk has also experimented with splattered designs “ where I take cans of paint and dribble it” on the wood.
He has attended the Kids Business Fair at the North Webster Community Center for the past five years.
“I was surprised I got the scholarship,” he said. “I applied but didn’t expect to get it. I was also surprised how the items are selling.”
For more information about the program, visit www.matthewspainting.com or call Jason Matthews at (574) 834-3575.