YouthBiz Star winner Shae Maiorana is the owner of Cover Your Collar. Philanthropy motivated 11-year-old Shae to turn a craft into a business. She started making dog collar covers for a class project three years ago, selling them to neighbors, family and friends. The covers easily slip over pets’ existing collars so they look festive for your next Super Bowl party.
At school, she was charged with raising money for Wish for Wheels, a program that purchases bicycles for low-income students. Shae seized the opportunity to expand her business. She ventured to dog parks and pet adoption fairs to find customers, and ended up donating $350 profit. Through this experience, Shae realized she loves the feeling of helping others.
Watch Shae’s segment on Colorado & Company and read more about her below.
Question: Tell me a little bit about you – name, age, how long you’ve been an entrepreneur. Do you have a website?
Answer: My name is Shae Maiorana and I’m 11 years old. I have been an entrepreneur for a little over a year. Yes, I have a website. You can visit www.coveryourcollar.com. On my website, you can see all my products which include holidays, sports, and fun patterns.
What motivated or inspired you to start a business?
A: I started making dog collar covers for a class project when I was in 3rd grade. I wanted to give my dog a new collar style without having to buy a new one. I started selling them to my neighbors, family, and friends and they all loved the idea.
In 5th grade, we did another class project. Our class partnered with an underprivileged and low income kindergarten class in Sedalia, Colorado. Our goal was to work with Wish for Wheels to raise money so we could buy, build, and deliver new bikes to this class. Most of these kids have never had a bike and this was going to be an opportunity to surprise them. In order to make this happen, our class needed to raise about $4,000 dollars to buy enough bikes for all the kindergarteners. Each student in my class was responsible for raising money to help with the cost. I realized that selling my collar covers was a great way to raise my portion of the money.
I took my collar covers to places where I knew I could find dogs and their owners such as dog parks and dog friendly establishments. I also partnered with Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue and sold my collar covers at their adoption and fundraising events. I raised about $350 for Wish for Wheels. We met our class goal and we delivered the bikes on May 9, 2017. Through this experience, I realized I love the feeling of being able to help those who are less fortunate than I am. I would like to continue donating to nonprofit organizations that help animals.
Q: Please share an overview about your business.
A: I make collar covers and they are made to simply slip over your pet’s collar so they are easy to change for different occasions. They come in three different sizes small, medium, or large. The collar cover can be worn around your dog’s neck scrunched up or flat depending on your preference. If you like the style more scrunched up then get a bigger size than you think your dog would wear. If you would like the collar cover worn flat then get a collar cover that fits just right.
Selling collar covers gives me an opportunity to donate to charities that help homeless dogs and animals in need. I donate all my proceeds to non-profit organizations and charities like Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue and PawsCo.
Q: What makes your business unique?
A: My business is unique because I provide a variety of collar covers that are sports related, or for the holidays like Halloween and Christmas and of course, just really cute material.
I also have the opportunity to donate my portion of the total. In the end to see how happy and excited the charity or nonprofit is the donation drives me to make collar covers every day.
Throughout this experience, I realize that I would like to continue learning and being creative and finding ways to raise money to donate to charities and nonprofit organizations.
Q: Tell us about some of the challenges you face being a young business owner.
A: The hardest part about being a business owner is finding the time to do it all. I’m 11 and I like to play with my friends and play sports, and finding time to squeeze it all in is challenging.
Q: Why should other youth start a business?
A: Other youth should start a business because it’s fun and because there are lots of good lessons to learn. One lesson I have learned is hard work. It takes a lot of time and effort to be successful. I have also learned that if you do something over and over again that you may be able to develop a faster or better way to get it done.
Q: Please share your involvement with Young Americans and YouthBiz.
A: My first experience with the Young Americans Center for Financial Education was in 5th grade when I got to attend AmeriTowne. I was the Accountant at the Medical Center. Through the Young AmeriTowne experience I got to know what it was like to have a job and what it was like to have so many responsibilities to have all at one time. During that time, I saw the advertisement for the entrepreneurship competition and decided to enter. Since then I have had opportunities like the Spotlight on YouthBiz Stars competition, selling opportunities, and classes that I would have never had before.
Q: Give a quick pitch for why people should visit you at the YouthBiz Marketplace in December!
A: I will be at the YouthBiz Marketplace on December 2nd so please come see me! It will be a great event and I know all of the kids there have worked as hard as I have to make their products to sell to you and others.
Q: The Spotlight on YouthBiz Stars results are in and Congratulations are in order–you are the winner in the 6-11 age category! How does that feel? What are some goals you’ve set with your mentor to work on?
A: Thank you – it feels amazing!
There are a couple of things I am working on with my mentor. The first is writing a mission statement for Cover Your Collar. The second is making sure that I am registered as a nonprofit organization. And on the of the most exciting things I am doing to looking to partner with larger organization so I can donate more and make a bigger difference. I know the Colorado Rockies have a day where you can bring your dog to the stadium, so maybe there is an opportunity to partner with them in the future.