15 Button Up!
(By Heather Ray)
My name is Lydia, but please, call me Buttons, as in Button Up, the name of my new company. I started it last year when I was in fifth grade, and that summer, I made more than $250! And I helped save a life! But I'll tell you more about that later. First, you need to know how it all started....
I was in Social Studies on another gloomy Monday morning. I was sick and tired of April showers and could practically taste summer vacation. That's when Mr. Larson announced a pop quiz . I'd briefly skimmed over the assigned chapters - something about economics - but I neglected to study with my usual flash cards.
After flunking my first quiz, I was so humiliated that I pulled out my Social Studies book and reread the material. The next day I begged Mr. Larson to let me retake the quiz, but he said that wouldn't be fair to the other students. Instead, he suggested I use what I had learned to start my own business. (I should have known he would say something like that. He was always trying to get students interested in extracurricular projects.)
Lydia, he said, "when you're not in school, what do you like to do?"
Hmm, I thought out loud . "Well, I like to swim in my neighbor's pool. Oh, and I recently learned how to make my own buttons, and I also like to... "
Hold on, he interrupted me. "Did you say you can make buttons?"
Yup. I took off my book bag to show Mr. Larson the collection of buttons pinned to the back. They said all sorts of things like "Go Green," "I'd Rather Be Swimming," a few had names, and my favorite: the one I had made for my sister, Lynn. She's in eighth grade now, but when she was younger, she had leukemia . Thankfully, she's in remission now (which means the signs of cancer are gone), and my dad says we're all very lucky that the treatments worked. Every year my family participates in a three- mile walk to raise money for cancer treatments. The button is a photo my dad took of Lynn and me at the finish line last year. It says S-U-R-V-I-V-O-R in the shape of a rainbow at the top.
I made a bunch of survivor buttons and gave one to everyone who helped donate to the race, I told him.
He looked impressed. "How did you make them?"
I used Lynn's computer to print the photos and cut them out so they fit into these clear, plastic pin backs,I explained.
Do you think there's a need, or a 'demand', for your buttons?
A demand? I wondered. As in the law of supply and demand from our Social Studies textbook?
Umm, I'll think about it. Then I hurried to art class.
When I got home, I reviewed the chapter on economics. Maybe I could sell my buttons. I was going to need money to buy supplies and would have to ask someone for a loan. Naturally, I asked More if she would invest in my idea.
How much is it going to cost? she asked.
If I start out by selling 100 buttons, I reasoned, "then I need 100 button shells, a pack of paper, and a circle cutter, which totals about $40."
How are you going to reimburse me?
I pulled out my list of potential customers, which included my teachers,friends, and neighbors; followed by a list of upcoming holidays and charitable events that people would buy buttons for. My plan was to make a couple dozen of my own designs and sell them for $2 each. If a customer wanted me to make a custom photo button, I would charge $3 per button. More suggested I offer a "buy five and get one free" deal, too.
Tell you what, Lydia, More began, "I'll loan you the money and then give you four months to pay it back. You'll owe me $10 a month."
Deal! I agreed. We sat at the table that night and crunched some numbers. I could pay back More and have $160! That was just an estimate. It didn't include the $3 buttons, or the special deal, but either way, if I sold them all, I could make a profit.
What would you do with all that money? More asked.
I showed her the flyer I made.
And that's how I helped save a life that summer. I donated the money I earned to a charity that helps cancer patients receive treatments. It wasn't easy, though. I spent my summer afternoons passing out flyers, taking orders, and making lots and lots of buttons, but it was my best summer yet!