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Young entrepreneurs sell their merchandise at local store

To learn about the Featured Entrepreneur Endeavor program at Caniche, call 704-638-5522

Ronni LIlly and Emma Nianouris at their very first Friday Night out in 2015. They’ll be selling their products at Caniche May 5-19.

By Susan Shinn Turner
For the Salisbury Post

There’s rarely a more enthusiastic salesperson than a young entrepreneur sharing his or her product. Caniche is capitalizing on this boldness and has launched the “Featured Entrepreneur Endeavor,” spotlighting young business owners from now through August at its shop, 200 S. Main St.

First up is Virginia Moye Robertson, the creator of Mermaid Pearls, who showed her jewelry April 7 for Friday Night Out. Virginia’s jewelry will be on display until Friday, and is now available through her instagram page, @mermaid_pearls.

“I went to summer camp and I noticed all the girls wore pearl necklaces,” says Virginia, 14, an eighth-grader at Salisbury Academy. “That inspired me to come up with my own pieces. I researched good-quality freshwater pearls and leather. I wore them myself and sold them to friends and family.”

Virginia has been selling her jewelry since September, and thinks they appeal to a broad range of ages. She has three pieces: the Maui five-pearl necklace at $20; the Aloha three-pearl bracelet at $12; and the Classic single-pearl choker at $15. A recent trip to Hawaii lent itself to the jewelry names. Virginia loves the ocean and the theme of mermaids came to mind when she was thinking about a business name.

“It’s a very beachy look,” she says.

Virginia is the daughter of Mark and Virginia Robertson of Salisbury, and has a younger sister, Ann Hunter, 12.

Virginia says that her Friday Night Out experience was “pretty good. I had some friends who came, and others who purchased jewelry. I got to talk to customers and tell them how I got started, and recommended pieces for them. It was good to connect with the customers and talk to them, and it was definitely a confidence builder.”

That’s just what Shakira Humble hoped it would be. Humble, Caniche’s sales and marketing manager, hopes young people who participate can learn about how to market and brand their own business.

“Virginia has been real excited about it,” Humble says of the program. “I’ve been real impressed with how she has taken this on and set it up here. There’s no telling where this will take her.”

“I admire young people with a work ethic that it takes to start something like this,” says Lesleigh Drye, who co-owns Caniche with Missie Alcorn. “I really hope the community will embrace this so that the youth will know they’re valued and appreciated.”

In May, Emma Nianouris and Ronni Lilly will be showcasing their REjuvenating Beauty products at Caniche. Both eighth-graders at Salisbury Academy, the duo has been selling at Friday Nights Out for the past two years. (The first two letters of their product are their first names, thus the two capital letters.) Their products will be on display at Caniche May 5-19.

Emma is the daughter of Eric and Tami Nianouris, and Ronni is the daughter of Ronald and Tammy Lilly. Included in their line are sugar scrubs, bath salts, and lotions, ranging in price from $3 to $7.

“We’re really excited because we’ve done quite a few of the Nights Out,” Emma says. “We’re excited to be in a store. We’ve mainly learned you have to reinvest. You can’t just, like, take the money and go crazy.”

Emma adds, “It’s also OK to be rejected. That’s gonna happen. It just makes us more comfortable to talk to people.”

“It’s very educational for kids to speak for themselves, and research a product,” Emma’s mom says. “They’ve taken the money they’ve made and turned around and bought more supplies. They’ve learned how to buy on a budget. And they have the enjoyment of being with each other and working together.”

During the time the products are on display at Caniche, they’ll be sold there exclusively, Humble says. “We’re not taking any money at all, but we do ask that $1 from every item sold be donated to the entrepreneur’s charity of choice.”

Virginia donated her money to Prevent Child Abuse Rowan.

Humble, who is a tennis coach at Salisbury Academy, was looking for away to involve youth in the community with the store.

“It came to me after watching Shark Tank,” Humble says. “Our youth are so crafty and good at making things, but we want them to help learn the process behind the business, coming up with branding a product as well as working in customer service.”

There are three more opportunities for young entrepreneurs to try showcase their products at Caniche, in June, July and August. Humble says that the program is open to any middle-school or high-school student in Rowan County, and she’d love for boys to participate as well.

“It’s a way for us to give back to the youth in the community,” she says. “So far, it’s been very positive.”

For more information about the Featured Entrepreneur Endeavor program at Caniche, call Shakira Humble at 704-638-5522.

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