Discover the Entrepreneurial Endeavors of 4 Teenagers
They make it their business.
Written byAnne M. Russell
AboveSophie and Izzy Uwins
Winslow Burnett has created a miniature museum of modern animation in his home closet. But before you think, “Oh, what a cute kid thing to do,” consider this: Some of the prized items in his collection have been seen and appreciated by more than 700,000 fans. That’s because, as a curator of unique and unusual collectibles from adult cartoon series like American Dad!, Bob’s Burgers, Family Guy, Futurama, and The Simpsons, Winslow shares his best gets to Reddit and Discord fan groups, where they have been featured as the most popular post of the day.
And it’s more than just show and tell for the eighth grader. He also runs a robust business buying and selling collectibles on eBay. The 13-year-old, who attends Tree Academy, scours local swap meets, yard sales, and thrift stores with his father, writer-director Allison Burnett (a collector of Old Hollywood ephemera), for things to resell at a profit. “My dad can tell me if something is really rare or interesting,” says Winslow. One of his best scores is a screener DVD for American Dad! that includes a note from co-creator Seth MacFarlane.
Winslow says the thrill of the hunt and “scrounging for the best deal,” is what he loves most about his business. Dealing with returns is his least favorite. For now, he says, “I’m making enough money that I can buy the stuff I want.” Although he’ll always be a collector, Winslow hopes to grow up to be a writer for an animated TV show.
Jordan Canepa has been an entrepreneur for more than half of her life. The 15-year-old, along with her dad, Michael, runs Kidskin, a skin care company aimed at teens and preteens. The business got underway when Jordan was 6 and plagued with a precocious outbreak of acne, for which she was bullied by classmates. Based on his experience in business development at Xtetic World, a medical esthetics company, Michael began working with chemists and dermatologists to formulate a cleanser that was safe for Jordan’s delicate skin. With his daughter’s input, the first product, T-Blast Foaming Facial Cleanser, was born. Kidskin, which now includes more than a dozen skin- and body-care products, is sold in all 50 states and the Middle East.
Father and daughter divide up responsibilities. Jordan primarily handles content creation for Instagram and TikTok as well as customer support and marketing. Her dad is responsible for product development, although Jordan has a hand in that as well. “I like coming up with new cool product ideas,” she says. Kidskin has recently launched a teen deodorant and an SPF 15 sunscreen, and like all products, it was a collaborative effort. “We both approve the final formulation,” shares Michael. “It will definitely not be released if Jordan isn’t on board.”
COVID has put a crimp in Jordan’s personal appearances, unfortunately. “I really enjoyed going to trade shows,” she says. “The overall social part is my favorite.” Now a ninth grader at Campbell Hall, she’s looking forward to college but says she plans to continue to run the business. “I want to make more brands that help people,” she says.
As identical 13-year-old twins Sophie and Izzy Uwins (pictured above) describe it, they were simply filling a need. They had no idea they were creating a saleable product. SOZY (an amalgam of their first names) Pencils was born when the girls, while doing schoolwork, got tired of switching between pencil and highlighter and taped the two instruments together—a stroke of genius that their classmates at The Buckley School admired. Mom Jackie helped turn it into a product.
Unlike many business partners, Sophie says (as Izzy nods), “The best part of the business is working with each other because we get along really well.” Another upside, Izzy adds, is “It’s really cool that what we designed is something people buy.”
The twins’ parents help with the SOZY website, Instagram feed, and with driving orders to the post office. The hardest part of getting the product to market was the development stage. “We went through 10 prototypes,” Izzy reports. “We had to be really patient. It was kind of frustrating.” After their first two successful offerings—brights and pastels—they had to switch manufacturers to produce the more sophisticated, adult-targeted metallics.
“We have in mind expanding SOZY Pencils to notebooks and maybe pencil sharpeners,” says Sophie. But no matter what the future holds for SOZY, the girls want to continue to work together. “I really like working with my twin,” says Izzy.