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How a Ten-Year-Old Girl Started a Business (and How to Encourage Your Kid to Do the Same)

13 min read

If you have a DIY hobby, you might find yourself wondering: “Should I try to sell my crafts?” Lots of adults let their doubts stop them from pursuing a side hustle. But not ten-year-old Wilhelmina Lillrud! She went for it, launching a store selling her handmade designer sunglasses.

You’ve read that right! L´Coule is an online business launched and run by Wilhelmina with her parents’ support. Her ecommerce platform of course? Ecwid, of course!

We asked Wilhelmina and her father Karl to share their story with the Ecwid community. Read our interview with them to learn more about this successful tag-team: a creative child and her encouraging parents.

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How Ten-Year-Old Wilhelmina Started Her Business

Starting an online business is overwhelming for an adult, let alone a child. But this story proves anything is possible when you have a passion for what you do, and parents that believe in you. This all sounds very exciting, doesn’t it? We asked Wilhelmina to share her insights on starting and operating her own store.

Meet Wilhelmina Lillrud, a designer and ten-year-old entrepreneur

How did you decide to launch your business?

I’ve always wanted to start a company that was named L’coule. I love fashion and when I was at the beach, I got inspired by some sunglasses and thought that I could make my own.

At first, I was selling sunglasses at school. Then I decided to expand my business: I created a TikTok account to show off my products and launched an online store with Ecwid. I’d love to hear what you think about my designs and check out other models on my website L´Coule or my Instagram.

Tell us a bit about your production process.

I make sunglasses for people who love fashion—who like their designs to be cool and fashionable.

My production capacity is based on access to the materials I need and the time I have between homework and other activities.

Finding the suitable materials took me some time. There were problems with the glue I was originally using for the flowers because it didn’t stick properly to the frame of the sunglasses. And we had some problems with spray paint that was not strong enough, but we found out that we could use a matte varnish spray to make it stronger and more durable.

Sunwear designed by Wilhelmina

Do your parents help you to run L´Coule?
My dad helps me out, as I’m legally not allowed to run a company yet. He helped me with lots of things. For example, with making a website. I also received some seed funding to be able to buy stuff as I don’t have a bank account to buy all supplies I need to make the product.

What are the challenges of being a child entrepreneur?
It was complicated for me to start my business because of my age and the legal limitations. This means that my dad needed to talk to many companies that have an age limit like TikTok and say that he is taking care of the accounts, websites and so on.

Also, as I’m a child, people might not think that my products have the level of quality that they actually do. But once they get the product in their hands they are always amazed by the details and the materials we have selected, and the overall quality of the product.

How do you promote your business?
For me, social media and collaborations get the best results. For example, I give influencers a pair of sunglasses, and then they wear them for their followers if they think they’re nice.

My goal is to work more with Instagram and TikTok. Getting the word out about my sunglasses from people they like and trust will increase sales as well as improve awareness of my brand.

As a child, it’s not always that easy to talk with grownups about my business and show them my product. But I try to connect with people that might be interested in my design work and who could help me to grow in one way or another.

I’m proud that one of the biggest influencers in Sweden made a video with me as a young entrepreneur and designer.

Why did you choose Ecwid for your online store?

Because my dad has made websites for many companies over the years and he thinks that it’s the best one. We looked for a platform that was easy for the customers to buy with, and which wasn’t too expensive to start with, because of my limited budget.

The L’Coule online store made with Ecwid E-commerce

What’s your advice for kids that would like to become entrepreneurs?
If you want to launch a business, first you need to figure out how your product should look. Then record some videos with your product and publish them on social media to see how people react to your design.

Try to build your following on TikTok. But remember that being underage is a legal problem on most platforms. So make sure your parents register and handle your account to follow the platform rules.

But most importantly:

  • Never give up 
  • Always try to achieve your goals
  • Always try new things
  • Never be afraid
  • Learn from your current problems and find alternatives to solve them.

What It Means to Be a Parent of a Child Entrepreneur

Running a business as a kid has its peculiarities, and so does being a parent of a child entrepreneur. Let’s learn from Karl, Wilhelmina’s father, all about how he supports her in her passion project.

What was your first reaction when Wilhelmina decided to start her business?

Both amazed and a little surprised, as she told me she always wanted to start a company named L’Coule and I had not heard about it until then. I mean she is ten, so how long could she have been thinking about this?

I’ve always told her that nothing is impossible, and tried to prove to her that together we can do anything. I have also tried to inspire her not to be afraid of trying things, to dare to try and then see what steps that we have to take to move forward.

What aspects of the business do you help Wilhelmina with?

I help her as an employee. She makes the decisions and I help her with the material to make decisions based on facts. I obviously help her with all legal concerns and financial tasks.

But she is very strict on the design and vision for her brand and no one in the family is allowed to tell her how the designs should be changed.

L´Coule Super Size Cat Eye model

How do you think L´Coule will change in the future as your daughter grows?

I am confident it’s a great base for her to understand how to build up her own company—from an idea, to a prototype that you test on the market, to then scale up production after proper testing is done. And at a far later stage start mass production when she has a solid customer base and can make predictions on sales to produce the right quantities.

How does it feel to be a parent of a child entrepreneur?

Great fun every day! As I have been an entrepreneur my entire life and worked with helping globally successful companies scale up. I’ve been a mentor for many entrepreneurs, so I am so happy to be able to support my daughter’s dreams.

How Parents Can Encourage Their Child’s Entrepreneurial Skills

Have you noticed that your kid’s passion for their hobby is a potential business idea? As a parent, you can do so much to help your child better understand business or start a journey to business success using their hobbies as a starter idea.

Here’s some advice from Karl, who encouraged his daughter’s passion for entrepreneurship. We asked him to share his “rules of thumb” for parents of child entrepreneurs, and here’s what he had to say:

  1. “Your child owns their product.” Remember that and explain it to your child to help encourage their autonomy and foster a sense of ownership of their creativity.
  2. Allow them to make small mistakes, then support them in understanding how to avoid related issues in the future. This will show them how strong they can become as they learn from their mistakes. This also builds confidence and trust in themselves to dare to take calculated risks. It says failure is never failure as long as you learn from it and evolve.
  3. Take care of all legal details and financial details, but explain what you’re doing to your child so they feel they are involved. Remember, they are your boss.
  4. Define a budget so that your child is part of the financial planning and make decisions based on the agreed financial plan. This will help them understand the value of money and of making a budget.
  5. Have the child create a plan then revise it and talk things through, adding missing steps and room for unforeseen problems. (For example, when Wilhelmina broke her right arm, she realized it was very difficult to assemble the product. This had to be budgeted into the business.)
  6. Have fun! This should be something that engages and inspires both of you. At the end of the day, it’s an opportunity to spend time together and learn.
  7. Watch YouTube videos by children about entrepreneurship and topics like ROI, budget, funding, growth and more. Let your child decide which videos the two of you watch and pause every now and then to explain or confirm that he or she understands the rather complex topics.
  8. Be a child, yourself. You don’t know everything. Dare to ask people in your network or even outside your network those “stupid questions” as there are no stupid questions. Don’t always believe in one definitive answer as the whole truth, ask several people the same question to build your understanding and pass that knowledge onto your child.
  9. Write in all your business social media platforms profiles that the child’s account is managed by you, the parent, or they will be suspended (this happened to Wilhelmina’s original TikTok account).

If you’d like to learn more about being a parent of a child entrepreneur or would like to get some additional guidance, feel free to reach out to Karl Lillrud on his website.

Start Your Own Online Business

Did Wilhelmina’s story inspire you (or your kid) to open your own store? With Ecwid, you can make it all happen in under an hour! Start selling on your website, social media channels like Facebook and Instagram, or marketplaces like Amazon and eBay.

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Do you think it’s important to support your child’s entrepreneurial aspiration? How would you go about doing that?

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About the author

Anastasia Prokofieva is a content writer at Ecwid. She writes about online marketing and promotion to make entrepreneurs’ daily routine easier and more rewarding. She also has a soft spot for cats, chocolate, and making kombucha at home.

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