Fourteen-year-old Sydney Loew got her brilliant idea for cute pillow designs while taking an entrepreneurial class at her middle school. With the help of her parents, she raised $20,000 on Kickstarter to launch her business. It’s become a family affair. Her mom became the CEO and, as the chief designer of the adorable animal pillows, she took on the title of Chief Cuteness Officer.
It’s not surprising. She goes to school in Palo Alto, in the heart of Silicon Valley and its thriving startup scene. Loew attends The Girls’ Middle School, in Palo Alto. In seventh grade, she took a class that required her to work with a team to create a product. Eventually the students were required to pitch the idea to a panel of Venture Capital investors.
Her group wanted to do an animal theme and one member of the group had some sewing skills. So Loew suggested pillows designed to look like cute animals.
It didn’t take long for Loew to realize she had a viable business idea. The pillows, which are marketed under the name “Poketti, Plushies with a Pocket,” have four adorable designs: Sydney the Penguin, Toni the Bunny, Baxter the Puppy and Roxi the Kitty. The pillows are functional, with pockets in the back.
The family also brought in expert Dennis Kupperman of RB Toy Design Inc. to help them navigate the perilous seas of the toy making business.
In a recent article at The Huffington Post, Loew writes:
“Working with Dennis has been a huge learning experience, not only for me, but for my mom as well. We had no idea how many little details there were to set up a toy business: trademarks, copyrights, websites, barcodes, patterns, fabric selection, regulations, and even safety testing!”
But nothing could deter them. The business now has an online store up and running carrying its adorable merchandise.
The lesson learned? You’re never too young to be an entrepreneur – the key is determination.
More in: Women Entrepreneurs
Fourteen-year-old Sydney Loew is an example of a good success who raised funds from Kickstarter to launch her business. Pretty brilliant.
In actuality, Sydney was required to work with 3 or 4 other girls in her entrepreneurial class to create a start-up company. Normally, the company is “disbanded” after the final liquidation sale, but it seemed not to in this case. Oddly, I see no mention of the names of the other girl in her group despite it being a team effort….
Hi Irena — It is well documented that Sydney’s entrepreneurial class was a team project (we did not write this article but appreciate Joshua sharing the story!). The girls did “liquidate” and end the project at the end of the school year — and this company was inspired by the experience (not a direct duplicate). At the beginning of the summer, Sydney wrote to the girls telling them her intention to start a business, as a courtesy. Her teacher and advisor also knew of her intentions. Rest assured, the design, concept, patterns, idea and prototypes are all Sydney’s AND she enjoyed very much working with the other three girls in the context of the class. I hope you wish her well…..she continues to work very hard!
It keep amazes me how young people can launch a successful startup. Ideas are aplenty, but execution is what failing startups. Bringing in an expert in toy industry is a very smart move, as this decision is actually the make-or-break decision for the young business.
She is also lucky to have a loving family who will always back her up. Hope, her business will only grow.