Children nowadays love to play with their array of electronic gizmo’s.
Many of these devices cut out the world around them totally. They render up melodies to be heard by the head-phoned listener alone. Playing with X-Box, interaction is with voices of strangers on the other side of the world rather than friends. Young people spend more time looking at photographs on Instagram or Facebook rather than admiring the beauty around them.
Recently, however I met two sisters of thirteen and eleven with a very different interest. Let me introduce you to Chelsy and Isla whose passion in life is baking.
Their cooking adventure began in earnest at the age of ten and twelve. They decided to make chocolate crosses at Easter last year. They made an astonishing 1300 crosses which were distributed to the congregations of three local churches. Each cross carried the message: ‘It is finished!’
Chelsy and Isla felt these edible delights were more appropriate in highlighting the real Easter message than traditional chocolate eggs and bunnies. This was a non-profit making venture but it was something that went beyond profit. These crosses spoke to the inner person in a deep, meaningful way.
Making the crosses, had set a match to their cooking skills. With the fire burning inside of them, they turned to their parents and said: “We want to do more. Could we make a biscuit that we could sell all the year round?”
Chelsy and Isla are homeschooled. Their parents, Scotty and Liezel, thought that this would be a wonderful way of teaching their children about entrepreneurship.
“I think that’s a great idea,” Liezel commented, “but you will have to work out how much money they cost to make and then price them accordingly.”
They couldn’t simply delve into their mother’s pantry, the girls realised. This was going to be a business. Exciting and also a little daunting!
The first thing to do was find a suitable biscuit recipe. The girls burrowed through their Mum’s recipe books and scoured through Google’s suggestions. They finally devised a recipe with a beautiful peanut flavour.
“Do you think we need to make the peanut taste stronger?” Isla asked her sister.
“No,” Chelsy answered, “I think this tastes great!”
They had concocted their special biscuit, now to sell it. Scotty and Liezel were having no part in marketing. That was up to the girls.
“Hey, Dad, do you think we might be able to sell them at Ground Control?” the girls asked.
“Phone and make an appointment to see Mr Jamneck. You will have to be really convincing as he only has the best in his coffee shop,” Scotty warned.
Chelsy and Isla were extremely nervous. The future of their biscuits lay in the success or failure of that meeting.
Stefan Jamneck said: “They were extremely professional and businesslike during the meeting. They showed me their product and gave it to me to taste. I gave them suggestions regarding packaging and labelling: allergy information, name, address and contact number. I also told them that there should be three biscuits in the packet rather than two. I tasted them and loved the wonderful crumbly peanut taste.
“I’m going to take a few of these home to my family and see what they think of them.”
Stefan’s wife and children raved about the biscuits.
Needless to say, Stefan placed a very definite weekly order. This boosted Chelsy and Isla’s confidence no end. In the following weeks they also got the go ahead from the two Root coffee shops in George!
The biscuit making business of the eleven and thirteen year old was up and running!
I was amused to discover that the biscuit making has actually turned into a family affair!
Chelsy roasts the oats, Isla does the mixing and Scotty places the mixture into moulds before refrigerating. Once the biscuits have set, Chelsy then dips them in beautiful Belgian chocolate. Their mother, Liezel, is involved with packaging and labelling. Finally Sadie, the young three year old brings undeniable laughter and encouragement to the group! When you do something together as a family, it makes it so much more fun.
They can produce thirty at a time which equates to ten packets. One hundred biscuits are needed per week. Root orders are made on Thursday and delivered on Saturday. Ground Control’s order is produced on a Saturday and dropped off on a Monday. All of this is done outside of their school time. I would love to go round to their house on a Thursday and Saturday. I’m sure it gives off that delicious waft of freshly made biscuits that I remember from my childhood.
The girls are learning about economies of scale and product development. They are seeking out quicker, easier and more cost effective ways to get the job done. Baking the oats in advance and buying their ingredients in bulk. Refrigerator space or rather the lack of it is something they are now having to consider. As to the future, they are thinking their biscuits without the chocolate might be a great energy food for cyclists!
I am smiling in admiration at their latest concerns. At their age, I was more interested in riding my bike and climbing trees!
Chelsy and Isla admitted that running a business isn’t as glamorous as they had originally thought. The repetitiveness of producing these mouthwatering treats, can become a bit of a chore at times. But, they are learning important life lessons:
Once you have entered into a contract with customers such as Ground Control and Root these are commitments you cannot break.
And, making money, although fun, is not easy. It requires hard work and dedication when sometimes you would rather be playing the piano or dancing!
I am laughing at my image of the girls combining all their loves at the same time. I am imagining that while Isla is doing the mixing of the biscuits in a bowl, her feet are doing balletic push ups. While Chelsy waits for the oats to roast, I picture her practicing a C piano chord on the counter.
Biscuits, ballet, piano and my imagination. What a combination!
Seriously though, pushing my imagination aside, I look at Chelsy and Isla in absolute awe and admiration. In those two young girls, I see a blend that is extraordinary, unusual, curious and rare!
What a mixture to face the world!