Maile and Jacqui at Colorado and Company

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This skilled seamstress has discovered the power of advertising at an early age!  After discovering her mother’s old sewing machine and taking a few lessons, 12-year-old Maile McManis sold her first products in December of last year.  She sews cosmetic bags, produce bags, handbags, purses, and more for her business Sewing with Smiles.  Maile is a finalist in the Spotlight on YouthBiz Stars business competition.

Learn more about Maile below, and watch her segment on Colorado and Company .

Question: Tell me a little bit about you — name, age, how long you’ve been an entrepreneur?

Answer: Hi there, my name is Maile McManis.  I am 12 years old and the oldest of 4. I have 2 very energetic, sportsy sisters, and one CRAZY brother.  I am a 7th grader and I love seeing the world. I am learning Chinese and I take drama. I love all animals, especially my 150lb. puppy who loves to play.

I started sewing in June of 2018, when we found my mom’s old sewing machine in our basement. She never learned to sew, but she was very supportive and even found me an amazing sewing teacher, her name is Marsha. Marsha taught me everything I know about sewing, and I am still learning from her. Then in December of 2018, I decided to sell my bags at the YouthBiz Holiday Market. It was a huge success… I made $300, and that was the start of my business. Since then I can barely stop sewing.

Q: Do you have a website? If so, let us know what it is.

A: At the current moment, I do not have a website, but am planning on creating one this year.  To make an order, you can email me at

Q: What motivated or inspired you to start a business?

A: I was motivated to start a business by my sewing teacher, my mom, my grandparents, and my dad, they were always encouraging me to sell my things and start saving up for things that I wanted. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here right now.

Q: Please share an overview about your business.

A: My business is all about bags. I sew multiple different types of bags, cosmetic, produce, handbags, purses, leather bags, and one of my new bags is the candy wrapper bags.

Q: Tell us about some of the challenges you face being a young business owner.

A: Some of the challenges of being a young business owner are fitting everything in. I am in middle school, I have homework, I play volleyball and I am in a musical theater performance. So sometimes it is hard to make time to sew and still have fun in my other activities. There are things I would like to do to continue to grow my business, such as launching a website, but it can be hard since it is time consuming.

Q: Why should other youth start a business?

A: Other kids should start a business because it teaches you responsibility and it helps save up for things that you really want. It is also fun to see the reactions when you tell people about what you do.

Q: What’s the best part about having your own business?

A: The best part about having my own business is doing something not a lot of other kids my age do. I am proud of what I have accomplished and I am excited to see where my business will go in the future. One other really cool part is that I am able to spend my profit in really awesome ways. For example, my school has a theater trip to New York City, and my parents said that they would split it with me, thankfully I have enough money to go.

Q: So, you’re one of the finalists for the Spotlight on YouthBiz Stars business competition–congratulations! What motivated you to apply for the competition, and what do you hope to get from this experience?

A: I was interested in applying to this competition because I think I have very interesting products that people will really like, and I think that the attention for my business will be great. I would really love to win!  The thing I hope to get from this experience most is a mentor to help give me tips and advice to help my business grow.

Q: Please share about your involvement with Young Americans.

A: When I was younger, I went to Young Americans’ summer camps and at school I participated in AmeriTowne. I learned a lot about money and the importance of saving. For about a year now, I have been selling through their YouthBiz Marketplaces and am now excited to be a finalist in the Spotlight competition.

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