Have you ever heard of amigurumi? These adorable, crocheted creatures are a big hit on Etsy, and 15-year-old Josephine “Joey” Stockton is an amigurumi expert. She’s owned her own business, Nerdy Crochet, for seven months now, and her signature items relate to science, technology, engineering and math—think multi-colored crocheted test tubes or a blood cell biology kit! Joey is hoping to gain experience that will make her business even better by applying to the Spotlight on YouthBiz Stars business competition this spring.
Learn more about Joey and her business below, and watch her segment on Colorado & Company.
Question: Tell me a little bit about you – name, age, how long you’ve been an entrepreneur.
Answer: My name is Josephine Stockton. I am 15 years old and I started my company, Nerdy Crochet, almost seven months ago in September 2018. However, I started crocheting amigurumi nearly five years ago.
Q: What is amigurumi?
A: Amigurumi is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small, stuffed yarn creatures.
Q: Do you have a website or social media?
A: Yes, you can reach me on Instagram at @Nerdy_Crochet or order your own amigurumi at my Etsy shop: etsy.com/shop/NerdyCrochetDesigns.
Q: What motivated or inspired you to start a business?
A: My family are really the ones who encouraged me to start my own business. As someone who uses crochet as both a creative outlet and a way to relax, I was making way too many toys to keep and I had to start giving them away to others. Not only that, as someone who loves STEM, I started intertwining my two interests into a rewarding business by making nerdy creations that nobody else was doing.
Q: Please share an overview about your business.
A: Nerdy Crochet is my business and I sell nerdy amigurumi toys and dolls as well as kits and patterns for those who want to learn how to make their own amigurumi toys.
Q: What makes your business unique?
A: There are very few amigurumi artists my age who own their own business. Not only that, there are even less that crochet toys and dolls that relate to science, technology, engineering, math and other nerdy fandoms.
Q: Tell us about some of the challenges you face being a young business owner.
A: As a young business owner, there are many challenges I face including not being taken seriously. As a kid, it is harder to convince others to purchase your product and give you a chance, assuming that your product is of less quality than someone older than you. Kids also have less resources and knowledge when it comes to starting a business, or the ability to spread the word about their business. It can be very difficult to be encouraged to continue with your business when you don’t have a lot of money to invest in growing your business or can’t make enough money to cover your initial costs until you sell enough to start making a profit.
Q: Why should other youth start a business?
A: I believe that running a small business is very important for kids as it can provide a little extra cash for spending, which gives us a feeling of independence from relying on our parents all the time. With a business, kids have to learn financial skills, social skills like starting a conversation with others, and marketing skills to sell their product. Many kids who have their own business also give a percentage of their profits back to a need in the community in some way, if they feel inclined, and it teaches them about charitable giving.
Q: Who is your favorite entrepreneur and why?
A: There is not just one particular entrepreneur that inspires me but I love learning about all these amazing people that started as I have and now own a business that is so much bigger today.
Q: Please share your involvement with YouthBiz.
A: YouthBiz was the jumpstart for me to start my business, Nerdy Crochet. I knew that I wanted to start a business a couple of years after I began to crochet. I looked for craft fairs to attend, but they all required permits or paperwork or expensive table fees. Fortunately, I came across the website of Young Americans and they offered youth a place to sell their products at their craft fairs made just for young entrepreneurs. My first fair was the YouthBiz’s Denver Start-Up week mini market. I have attended five of their fairs and one of their business plan workshops. I plan to continue to be involved in YouthBiz and will be attending their next craft fair in April. I’m also applying for the YouthBiz Stars business competition.
Q: Why are you applying to the YouthBiz Stars business competition? What do you hope to learn?
A: I am applying to the YouthBiz Stars business competition because I believe it will provide me with the knowledge and insight as to what it takes to grow and expand one’s business. It has made me sit down and think about a detailed business plan, calculate my expenses and profits, and see if I am marketing my toys at a correct price. The winners of the competition will benefit from the expertise from a mentor and will learn invaluable skills on how to improve into a better business, something that one couldn’t receive anywhere else as a kid entrepreneur.