Charlotte Gerwin Evolved Her Passion for Dragons into a Flourishing Business
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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.Charlotte Gerwin, CEO
The Dragon Girl Char
By Sriya Chatterjee and Abhishek Kumar
GUELPH, ONTARIO, CANADA. APRIL 29, 2020. Dragons are one of the most beautiful yet ferocious of all the creatures. These creatures have appeared in some of the best mythical and fictional stories like Harry Potter, Hobbit, A Song of Ice and Fire, and many more. One such lover for dragons is Charlotte Gerwin from Ontario, Canada. She combined her love for dragons and passion of making toys out of rainbow loom bands, into a flourishing business.
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Charlotte was born in 2005, and she loved to play with stuffed animals as a kid. When she was eight years old, Rainbow Loom Bands were invented, and the loom bands became popularized around the world. Charlotte loved creating designs with loom brands. She made her favorite toys in a variety of different designs and played with her favorites. Fictional and fantasy-themed books and movie characters influence her creativity. She also has a naturally curious and creative mind. She always loved engaging in role-playing with her miniature toys and stuffed animals.
On an especially inspiring day, Charlotte learned how to make toys from Rainbow Loom bands after watching a video on YouTube. She began to experiment with the loom band materials. As her interest in making toys shifted to dragons, her friends loved seeing the new designs. They began requesting dragon toys for themselves, and slowly the trend spread throughout her school. She loved the idea of making dragon pets for all of them.
Her next step was filled with kindness and great generosity. She sold her self-made dragon toys in school and at the church, Lakeside, as an act of charity. She ran a campaign and the money she earned, which was a huge sum of $500. She donated the income to charities like the local Hope House, which helps families in need and Fort McMurray, which at the time dealt with the forest fires via Red Cross. From the great response of the purchases, she got the idea of selling her dragons and running a business. In November 2018, she began to sell her dragons at a vendor sale, and later in January 2019, she opened her very own Etsy shop with her mother's aid.
The name, The Dragon Girl Char consists of two parts, viz. The Dragon Girl and Char. When Charlotte would go to the store to buy Rainbow Loom packages for her dragon toys, she would take her dragons along with her. As days went by, she was popularly known as "The Dragon Girl" among the staff, leading to the first part of the company's name. Friends of Charlotte had shortened her name and would call her Char, giving her the second part.
The Dragon Girl Char is a 1.5-year-old venture run by Charlotte alone, with the help of her mother. She is a handmade dragon toy creator and e-commerce store owner catering to people (mainly youth) who enjoy the magical and playful world of dragons. The designing and making of the products are taken care of by Charlotte herself.
In this era of AI and robotics, kids hardly play with idle toys. So, to keep her customers engaged, Charlotte creates sensory-rich dragons in aim to reduce the screen time spent by a child and increase the time played with toys. Increasing the time spent on toys makes a child explore their imaginative powers. Children who have autism find it particularly challenging to focus on a specific thing for a long time. Parents try to find toys that make their child happy, but at times, such things are unpredictable and indecisive, which is where Charlotte's dragons come in. She customizes her dragons by focusing on the minute details of the dragons to bring life to the dragons, kids envision it with the colours and whimsical details they desire. She makes sure that the toys are squishy and have a slight texture so that children enjoy playing with them and can take it along with them everywhere.
Charlotte, being a dragon girl, not only creates and provides toys but also creates original hatching dragon-themed clothing and cute dragon bags. These surely are perfect gifts for dragon loving girls and ladies. Presently the sizes start for kids from the age of 3 or 4 to maternity t-shirts. On the maternity t-shirts, there is a baby dragon about to hatch over the growing baby bump. Char plans to enlarge her business by making dragon t-shirts for boys and men, dragon necklaces, and dragon patches. She will one day build a whole new dragon world for herself and her customers.
Char focuses mainly on parents who value quality time with their children and want to provide toys that entice their children away from their screen time. She makes sure the children of these parents have one or more of the following interests or needs:
1. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Autism or sensory needs
2. Enjoy fantasy books, movies, toys, etc. (especially dragons)
3. Enjoy making crafts and may have had some experience with creating with Rainbow Loom bands
4. Aspire to make and sell their handmade creations (child or parent has an entrepreneurial spirit)
5. Enjoy small world style pretend to play with small stuffed animals or figures
Cortney Nicole is Charlotte's role model. Courtney uploads all kinds of videos related to looms so viewers around the globe can learn her magical ways. Char developed her skills in Rainbow Loom from Cortney and began to flourish. Charlotte believes and shares that if you gain satisfaction from growing your real business from the ground up, you will take those jobs and work ethic skills into all future business, school, and entrepreneurial adventures.
Charlotte chose this over any other career experience as she adored bringing joy to her customers. As her business started to grow, she realized that she was the only person in Canada who sold Rainbow Loom dragons and dragons were something which was not just limited to her but was shared by many.
The initial stages for any company are always difficult. Similarly Charlotte faced a few challenges on her way. The pictures which she posted were not up to the mark, getting found on Etsy or social media and her search engine optimization (SEO) was inadequate because she found it challenging to publicize her company. However, every problem has a solution. She found herself a photography and business coach at (www.bykristinanicole.com). Although she faced many ups and downs in her journey, she never gave up. She always kept herself motivated by keeping in mind that she was making people happy by selling her dragons. And there is always a sunrise after night.
When we asked about her venture's further plans, she replied, "We have some rough ideas started, mainly in terms of understanding our customers and how we fill a need. We have been researching the Storybrand philosophy (Donald Miller) to understand how to give our company direction and marketing clarity. We are also part of a business mastermind group on Facebook. The coach (www.bykristinanicole.com) has been immensely helpful in focusing our business efforts. Her specialty is product photography, but she has helped us in all aspects of our business." Also, she plans to apply for government grants by 2021 once she turns 15.
Currently, Charlotte has 41 listings on Etsy and has sold roughly 300 dragon products. She wants to increase the number of sales by making it two per week across her website and including Etsy. She uses her earning to buy equipment such as a heat press, Cricut Maker, embroidery sewing machine, t-shirt, and Rainbow Loom bands to expand her business. Looking toward 2021, she plans to apply for a government grant to help her grow her business and accomplish her vision for the upcoming years. Her goal is to broaden her product offering and marketing ideas by evolving her own website, building up her Instagram followers, using Pinterest more to drive traffic, starting a YouTube channel, and starting a TikTok account. Make sure to follow Dragon Girl Char when they are up and running!!
Charlotte was never demotivated during her thrilling journey. She told us, "People are genuinely happy to have my dragons, and the business gives me a challenging and creative outlet. I am very motivated to expand my product offering and master new ways to create dragon products for my customers." Also, having happy and loyal customers is her most significant achievement.
Charlotte is a young girl but has a mind of her own. She says, 'If you're inspired by a cool idea, have the confidence to figure it out yourself.'
Charlotte has been featured by The Valko Mortgage Group, The Holistic Parent magazine, and online through www.craftgossip.com.
Sriya Chatterjee is a contributing writer at Teenager Startups. She is in her final year of Btech in EIE from the SRM Institute of Science and Technology from Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.
Abhishek Kumar is a senior media contributor with the Media Group at Teenager Startups. He is a cheerful person and a 19-year old student pursuing his bachelor's degree and is always keen on learning and growing.
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