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Local girls start button business

Ten-year-olds learn valuable lessons in establishing ‘Buckville Buttons’

Posted: January 4, 2010 10:10 p.m.
Updated: January 5, 2010 9:55 a.m.

Sample buttons for sale at www.kingpop.com/buckville.

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When fifth-grade friends Riley Villiers-Furze and Caitlin Buckley of Pico Canyon Elementary School were looking for an after-school activity, they didn't look to video games, television or the Internet as many their age do.

Instead, they sat down and started formulating a plan to start their own business.

Finding an old button-making machine and supplies in the office of Villiers-Furze's father, they decided their best bet was to make and sell pin-on buttons.

But getting started wasn't going to be that easy.

"We asked if we could make some buttons for our business and my dad asked us for our business plan," Villiers-Furze said. "We said we didn't have one, and that's where we got started."

The Stevenson Ranch girls quickly started sketching out their plan to include what they wanted to sell, how they were going to manufacture their product, who they were going to sell to and, of course, their company name - Buckville Buttons, a combination of each of the girls' last names.

"It was really funny," Villiers-Furze said. "Once we presented our business plan, my dad got a bunch of hats, put one on and said he was the financier. He explained to us that as the financier, he needed to know that we fully thought through our business before he would put up the money. He also had hats for the supplier/manufacturer, the business advisor, the designer/employee and the advertiser. We really learned a lot about what it takes to start a business."

With their business plan set and financing in place, the 10-year-old entrepreneurs were off and running.

"We had a lot of fun brainstorming different ideas for our buttons," Buckley said. "We came up with several pages of ideas and then chose the best ones we thought would appeal to our demographic. We then looked at our supply costs and employee costs to help us determine our total unit cost to set the price for our buttons."

The lessons, however, did not end there.

"Our buttons became popular and we started selling out very quickly," Buckley said. "We used the principle of supply and demand to keep sales high and to determine which button designs would sell best in the future. We also managed our inventory to figure out our gross profits and our net profits."

In just a few short weeks, Buckville Buttons has sold hundreds of fun, unique buttons through direct sales as well as their online site, kingpop.com/buckville.

Their button designs continue to be popular among all age groups and the partners released their third set of buttons for the holidays.

"This project has been a lot of fun," Villiers-Furze said. "Not only have we learned about what it takes to start and run a business, but we are also creating a product that makes our customers smile and laugh!"

The two hope to sell buttons at their school's student store and plan to introduce new button designs every two weeks.

We learned a lot of things from this experience," the two said. "We discovered the meaning of many concepts including demographic, supply and demand, gross profit and net profit. An example is the meaning of demographic: It means the age group that one company mainly reaches out to."

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