As far as youth entrepreneurs go eight-year old Mikaela D’Alimonte is certainly one of the youngest JSC has interviewed. But age is no limitation for this talented girl who was born and raised in Valleywood.
Mikaela’s creativity, talent, and dedication have all led to her role as a successful youth entrepreneur, designing and creating jewellery and other fashion accessories that are, yes, cute as a button. Literally.
Late last summer Mikaela decided to make a few hair ties and button earrings. She had captured the initial skills by watching YouTube videos, and after some trips to the fabric store with mom she was off and running with her ideas.
Friends and family were quite taken with her stylish creations and wanted to buy them. Mikaela enjoyed the process and, also finding it a lot of fun, she continued.
“My mom suggested I try selling them at the Valleywood Block Party” Mikaela says. “So I did and everyone loved them.” The tenacious Herb Campbell Public School student asked her mother if she could attend other markets and, securing the go-ahead, the journey began.
Mikaela’s line is based on fabric-covered buttons that she creates and then turns into jewellery and accessories such as hair ties and clips, earrings, key chains, badge reels, and button pins.
In addition to being fashionable and distinctive the pieces can be produced by repurposing fabric scraps so they have a positive impact of the environment. This fact is not lost on the young entrepreneur who has educated herself on the impact of the textile industry on the environment. Even at this young age she recognizes it to be one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world.
As we speak it is clear that she is proud that she is able to be a small part of the solution. “Clothing is filling up landfills and bad for the environment so I like to use up-cycled clothing and fabric scraps to make my buttons” she adds emphatically.
Mikaela’s social conscience does not stop there. She made the decision to donate 10% of her sales to charity. This particular season she chose Sick Kids Hospital and is very close to her goal of raising $150.
I ask if she has a personal favourite among her pieces. “I love one red glittery fabric with a giant snowflake on it” she states. “I made a badge reel using that fabric and I love it!”
On the topic of challenges facing young entrepreneurs Mikaela says she personally found the most difficult part of the process to date to be “Getting comfortable with talking to people at markets.” But her confidence shines through again when she adds “But I’m getting better at it. My advice is just try your best and always keep going, never give up!”
To see Mikaela’s current inventory visit her social media pages for Mikaela’s Cute Buttons at @mikaelascutebuttons on Facebook and Instagram. You can then message her with your order. Items are priced from $5 to $20 with most falling in the $8 to $15 range.
Mikaela also does custom orders on requests. For example you can message her to see if she has fabric in a particular design or colour. Or to have her create an item using a piece of fabric from loved one’s clothing. Orders can be picked up at markets, dropped off, or mailed.
Lastly, feel free to connect with Mikaela if you would like to donate clean fabric scraps, in good condition.
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