GROW Nebraska has helped some of the state’s youngest entrepreneurs launch or grow their businesses. From Gracie’s Candles, started by 13-year-old Maddison Grace Brown of Morrill, to JR Lures, which was started by Justin Hoeft of Kearney when he was just 10-years old, GROW supports entrepreneurs of all ages.
GROW Nebraska and one of its longtime members are now helping young Alyssa Onnen of Kearney expand her business, Perfectly Pampered by Alyssa.
Alyssa started her business when she was 11 years old after attending Biz Kidz Camp at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. She makes and sells a variety of edible lip scrubs and hydrating body scrubs in scents like Zesty Lemon, Vanilla Brown Sugar and Wedding Mint.
She first sold her products at Kearney’s Night Market, a summer evening event featuring vendors, food and live music. She earned enough money from her sales to repay her parents for sending her to gymnastics camp.
“My previous way of paying for gymnastics camp was mowing the lawn,” Alyssa said. “But I didn’t really enjoy it.”
After that Night Market season ended, Alyssa’s customers still wanted to purchase her products. And, she wanted to continue selling and growing her business. So, Alyssa (with some help from her mom) approached Sonya Griffith, owner of the Rustic Patch in downtown Kearney, about selling her products at the store. Sonya agreed.
“Sonya has taught me so many things throughout our partnership, but a few of them include the importance of packaging, how to price products, and overall just the mindset of a good entrepreneur,” Alyssa said. “As a young business owner, Sonya has done so much for me, but one of the biggest things she has helped me do is get my business’s name out there.
On several occasions, Sonya invited Alyssa to personally promote her products to customers at the store, which Alyssa enjoyed because she loves visiting with shoppers.
Her most popular product at the Rustic Patch is the Vanilla Brown Sugar body scrub.
Sonya is a long-time GROW Nebraska member and is also a lifelong friend of Alyssa’s mom. She wanted to help her friend’s daughter because she could see the entrepreneurial potential in her.
“(Alyssa) is very outgoing and very driven,” Sonya said. “She designed a product that she knew was going to help individuals with extra dry hands and feet.”
The Rustic Patch sells products created by many area consignors, and Alyssa’s products have been a good fit for the store. They are most popular during the Christmas season and Mother’s Day.
Sonya shared with Alyssa her knowledge of social media marketing and about the basics of operating a business, such as setting up an LLC and paying sales and income taxes.
Alyssa’s connection with the Rustic Patch helped her gain another important connection. The Rustic Patch is a GROW Nebraska member, and Alyssa joined GROW in November 2020.
“Since joining Grow Nebraska, my business has been able to expand to the internet, enabling it to ship globally,” she said.
Through GROW, she also learned how to set up a Google My Business account and how to create a website.
Alyssa is now 13 and is a seventh-grader at Kearney Catholic. Her business is poised for success, and she’d like to expand her product lines to include other beauty/skincare products. She has her eyes set on hiring employees someday to help grow her business.
She also has some goals outside of the business – to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln or UCLA and to compete in college gymnastics.
After college, she hopes to use the lessons she is learning to start another business, possibly in interior design.