What started as a backyard idea turned into children’s business Fair Sunday at Lynnwood’s Alderwood Mall, showcasing the unique skills of future entrepreneurs aged 6 to 15.
The young vendors at the Kirkland Children’s Business Fair created a business plan and designed products that included baking goods, T-shirts, paintings, hair decorations, jewelry and crafts.
More than 40 booths, and as many kids, launched their businesses and explained their creations to eager customers, who expressed amazement at their entrepreneurial skills and engaging styles of selling.
The event was developed by Kirkland resident Sanika Datar, 13. She had heard about children’s business fairs, and thought it would be a good idea to have one in this area to help kids learn how to run a business.
“I looked around to see if there was a kids’ fair in the area and found that Bellevue had one a few years ago — so I decided it was time to have one here, but didn’t think it would be such a big event,” she said. “I thought maybe it would be me and a couple of family friends and five booths in my backyard.”
When city permits for a backyard fair proved too costly, and “a lot” of community members expressed interest in attending a kid’s fair, a search was started for a bigger venue to hold the event.
Sanika’s mother, Seema Datar, also thought her daughter’s idea was a good one and jumped onboard to help out.
“This was definitely Sanika’s idea,” she said. “I started to reach out to different organizations to find a venue, and it was very challenging because of COVID, but we found the Alderwood Mall.”
Seema Datar said the mall had a secure location with social distancing in place. “We are so grateful to Alderwood for their support,” she said. “We were able to get the word out to schools, media and word of mouth, and as you can see, the kids are amazing.”
Cost was not an issue for kids wanting to participate in the fair. There were no vendor fees and kids were encouraged to think as artistically and outside of the box as they wanted to.
“It’s much bigger than I expected,” Sanika said. “I think it’s good for children to be entrepreneurs. It’s a great way for them to learn, and even if it isn’t some big thing with an elaborate business plan, it’s a good opportunity for them to be creative in an engaging way.”
Sope Reang and daughter Oliva Reang, who makes her own wire rings and necklaces, drove from Portland, Ore., to attend the fair and said they wouldn’t have missed it.
The Datars purposely did not provide restrictions on what the youthful vendors could create. “We wanted them to explore their passion in whatever way they wanted to.” Sanika explained.
Datar said that they want the children’s fair to be an annual event, and plan to get more partnerships and sponsors that support and share their vision.
From developing business and marketing plans to selling their products, Sanika said she hopes the fair will give kids the confidence to follow their hearts. “If they take back anything from this event, it’s that even kids can be entrepreneurs and have their own businesses in whatever way they want it to be.”
Sponsors for the Kirkland Children’s Fair were Acton Children’s Business Fair, Acton Academy, Alderwood Mall and Next Great Adventure.
More photos of participants below:
— Story and photos by Misha Carter