Young Minds. Entrepreneur Minds.
The sounds of young voices filled the Shawnee Civic Center. “I’ve always wanted to do this for youths,” said Matt Mann, Shawnee’s Recreation Coordinator. KidsFest Business Fair is in its first year. “Kids all have different interests. Some do sports, some do different things,” said Mann. Then Mann got an idea. “I wanted that creative side to show. We have hosted craft festivals in the past. Kids would apply. We started working towards a crafts fair,” said Mann. Shortly after, some sponsorships jumped on the idea of a Kids Business fair. “We found ‘Acton Children’s Business Fair’. They have put on similar events around the country. They provided the framework,” said Mann. Then a local sponsor emerged, Make48. Make48 is a 48-hour invention competition. “I was really impressed. It has a lot of potential,” said Thomas Gray, CEO of Make48. Shortly after, more local support came. “They jumped on board, then UMKC’s Entrepreneur Innovation Center joined. We had no idea how this was going to go in year one,” said Mann.
Kids displaying their creativity.
Creativity was on full display Saturday. Booths were set up along the back wall of the community center. Colorful signs, neatly displayed products ranging from jewelry made from silver to wood carved signs made by one particular young entrepreneur named ‘Craft Girl’. These young people have been mastering their respective crafts for several years. “She takes great pride in her work,” said ‘Craft Girls’ father. KidsFest Business Fair’s goal is to teach children how to use their imagination and display their innovation, forming ideas into products.
25 booths, 250 people.
“I was hoping for 100 people,” exclaimed Mann. The first annual KidsFest Business Fair exceeded expectations. So much so that there will be another one next year. “We will do it again,” exclaimed Mann. A good amount of the young entrepreneurs at theses booths, have been learning what it takes to run a business. Some kids have been running their own businesses for several years. While their parents give them guidance. “I show her how to use my power tools with my supervision,” ‘Craft Girls’ father said.
Shawnee Civic Center.
“The biggest thing was getting the shoppers. Getting people here to actually shop,” said Mann. So through word of mouth, the event peaked the interest of local entrepreneurs. Young of course. The venue was perfect. “This has been a challenge but committing to this venue was great for us,” said Mann. The amount of effort put into this event has been the continued success of the young entrepreneurs. “It’s good not only for the City of Shawnee Mission, where it’s based but also greater Kansas City,” said Gray. The Civic Center provides the young minds with a space to learn about the importance of managing money. “My two daughters, this was the first time they tried anything like this,” said Mann. These two entrepreneurs who are sisters are the ‘Craft Sisters’. “They sell Pokémon characters and some other jewelry they designed,” said Mann. Economics of selling a product definitely is a topic of discussion with parents and their children at this event space. “They get to learn about cash and value. I am invested into this concept certainly to teach them,” said Mann.
Goods and Services.
“I want this event to stay on the theme of goods and services, not just crafts,” said Mann. More diversity in the future is what Mann and his program managers want to focus on. “I want kids who are photographers, kids who are writers too,” said Mann. KidsFest wants to stay on course with their vision. That future events will hold lasting educational value to the young entrepreneurs. While their parents get the satisfaction of watching their kids sell their product. “It’s cool watching them get excited selling what they worked so hard to produce,” said Mann.