Japanese origin teenager running arts and apparel proprietor venture
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We are super excited about young entrepreneurs who are improving the lives of other teens, applying solutions to real-world problems, producing thriving businesses, and pivoting the world to the future.
If you know of any teenager who has launched a business as a teenager and is below 25, we would be happy to cover his/her story. Please reach out to [email protected], sending some basic info, and we will respond within 48 hours.Ayako Kiener, Sole Proprietor
Aloha Art and Apparel
By Dhanashree Palav and Sriya Chatterjee
Alameda, California, U.S.A. April 01, 2020. "What is done in love is done well," said Vincent van Gogh, a well-known personality in the history of Western art. 'Aloha Art and Apparel' is one such venture born from the love of art.
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Ayako Kiener, 16-years-old from Alameda, California, preferred to make things over buying them. With just $100 seed money from parents, she ventured to start on her own, and now she is growing her Sole Proprietor business by putting profits back into it.
The unique and creative gifts vendors had to offer at the crafts fairs inspired her to turn her hobby into something much bigger and meaningful. When her mother heard about her daughter's dream, she brought her some entrepreneurial books to help Ayako understand what businesses are all about.
Ayako's business took off with the name Aloha Card Creations, where she made greeting cards and reached out to her public through Instagram. Soon she developed an interest in the digital art process, and her family insisted on putting her designs on a shirt. As she started drifting away from greeting cards and more into apparel designs, slowly came the birth of Aloha Art and Apparel.
She is still in school and is involved in various extra activities like sports and doesn't always have time to specifically work on the business. However, she makes sure to build up and grow Aloha Art and Apparel each time she finds a reasonable amount of time away from school.
Her business is still in the early stages. She mainly sells apparel and custom painted shoes (Nike Air Force). All her watercolour projects are made to order and unique. Her business is open to personal assignments and gets a lot of orders for making custom greeting cards as well. Ayako is very flexible when it comes to the projects where the customers ask her to commission for them, seldom turning down a request.
For Ayako, the biggest challenge was to manage schoolwork and all the extra-curricular activities while expanding the business in the public eye on social media. She finds herself always caught up in all the school homework, thus summertime is the only time in which she can really focus on the expansion of the business.
As an amateur entrepreneur, it is essential to know one's mistakes and learn from them. For Ayako, her biggest mistake was creating an Etsy profile in the early stages of Aloha Card Creations. She said she was acting on impulse and just wanted to begin a business immediately. She hadn't planned out any ideas at all or taken the time to really go over a plan for what she was doing.
When the junior year of high school began, she got very tied up in studies. She was not able to contribute to the growth of her business, and that was when she felt like giving up and doing something else. But she always had one thing in her mind that she had a few people to prove wrong, especially those who didn't believe in her.
In Ayako's journey, her only role model and inspiration was her mom. Her mother dreamt of opening her own salon and managed to do that despite all the obstacles. She is now the proud owner of 77 Salon Inc. Ayako wants to follow her mother's footsteps and become a successful entrepreneur. She wants to possibly be a chef and open a restaurant.
She is not decided on it yet, but she is sure about one thing that is whatever she does, she wants to have fun doing it. For now, she plans to dedicate more time to the business, possibly producing different apparel and giving the website a makeover. She wants to travel around the world!
Ayako is a fifth-generation Japanese American, and her great grandparents were held in the Japanese detention camps in World war 2. She is very closely involved in the Japanese Americans for Justice organization which is fighting to close all immigrant detention camps, defund family detention and deportation, reunite children with their families and fund humanitarian aid and solutions. She also says that designing protest posters for the Japanese Americans for Justice organization is her most significant achievement. This cause helps her connect to her Japanese community and roots.
Ayako shared some tips for young entrepreneurs -
"If you're passionate about what you do, stick to your passion and ideas and don't let anyone deny you of your dreams." Only then can you achieve what you always dream of.
"Work hard in silence, let your success be your noise"- Frank Ocean
- Ayako Kiener's favourite quote
Ayako is currently reading the book "Crush It" by Gary V.
Dhanashree Palav is a valued member of the Media Group at Teenager Startups. She is from Mumbai and pursuing her B.A(MMC).
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