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I Was an Entrepreneur at Age 12

August 19, 2013

It’s been about a year and a half since I left my full-time job to start my own business. But in many ways, I’ve been an entrepreneur since before my teenage years. When I was 12-years-old, I was the proud owner and editor of the “Summer Sticker Club,” a pen pal and sticker newsletter club that I ran through the mail.

Every summer I created a series of newsletters on my typewriter (and later Apple IIE computer) with stickers, rubber stamps, and Printshop templates as graphics. There was no Internet in the 1980s, so I sold subscriptions — which came with complimentary stickers and “cool prizes” — to my pen pal friends. I considered myself pretty influential with my 25 pen pals (back then there was no Facebook, mind you). My favorite time of the day was afternoon when I ran to my email inbox family’s mailbox hoping to find more letters from these friends I never even met.

I loved writing those issues of the “Summer Sticker Club.” I locked myself in my bedroom for hours — writing content, brainstorming themes, picking just the right paper colors for each page, creating editorial calendars, and editing the articles sent in by my guest contributors (aka newsletter subscribers). “Summer Sticker Club” had quite a few subscribers and I was thrilled to actually earn money from this venture.

I even had my mom working for me for a while. I would leave the newsletter copy (along with strict instructions) in a labeled “out box” in my bedroom. She was responsible for taking the newsletter draft to Kinko’s to make the copies. More often than not, mom didn’t get around to her work (guess she was busy raising four kids!). Needless to say, I did have to chew her out a few times when I came home from school and found the newsletter still sitting in the “out box.” I was pretty strict about deadlines (see below) and apparently it was tough to find good help, even back then.

I also created a “Super Duper Catalog” (summer and holiday edition) where I sold rubber stamp stationery and notepads. I don’t recall how many orders I received, but it was quite the multi-page catalog.

It’s funny to look back at what my passions were as a young kid and see how it mirrors what I love to do now. I may have been only 12, but I loved creating content and distributing it to people around the country. I was passionate about communicating with distant friends called pen pals via mail. That’s exactly what I love doing today with this blog, Facebook and my own business.

I recently came across a file folder that contained all my entrepreneurial relics. Here’s a glimpse of my young endeavors (apologies for the scanned-turned – edited photo quality).

summer sticker club2

newsletter1

These deadlines "must be made!"

super duper catalog collage

By the way, if there are any of my former pen pals or “Summer Sticker Club” subscribers out there, PLEASE reach out!

Is there something you remember doing as a kid that you find yourself doing now? Were there elements of your current life in your childhood life?

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. August 19, 2013 3:10 am

    Fantastic! And reading these I hear your voice that is still you today. There are phrases that you write in your blog! Amazing! Thanks for sharing. Can’t say I had a business. A pen pal or two here and there and I did love writing and receiving letters.

  2. August 19, 2013 4:40 am

    How great! I love seeing your early work, and you meant business! The deadline dates looked very serious. I still enjoy pen pals.

  3. August 19, 2013 6:57 am

    What a fun glimpse into your childhood. So much enthusiasm and ambition! When I was a kid, I spent my summers with my nose in a book. Some things don’t change. 🙂

  4. August 19, 2013 9:50 am

    I love this! This is seriously the best thing ever. I had lots of pen pals at that age, but nothing as elaborate as a summer sticker club! I loved reading the archives from your folder. I would totally be a member of your club even now, no joke. You don’t have any old newsletters lying around, do you? 🙂

  5. August 19, 2013 2:17 pm

    Another great post, Leah! You inspired me to write about my first job: http://www.mikeandmusic.com/?p=2187

  6. August 20, 2013 1:50 pm

    Wow I am impressed Leah. Sounds like your were entrepreneurial prodigy! And the writing is top quality – like some of the sales letter samples I’ve seen. I was also into pen pals as a kid; I had around 10 at one point and absolutely loved sending and receiving those letters. But I never thought of creating a newsletter. Of course I am talking about the 70s rather than the 80’s – even photocopying was exotic back in my day. I did however send some card designs to Hallmark. I have the friendly rejection letter somewhere. : )

  7. Mom permalink
    August 20, 2013 6:10 pm

    Oh goodness, remember all the stickers we bought? – Smelly ones, animals (‘specially the dogs :-), puffy ones, holograms, glitter and of course “Mrs. Grossman” stickers? They were the cream of the crop. You were a very organized and serious business woman even back then. I loved looking at the “Summer Sticker Club” newsletter and “spread sheets.” Keep on keepin ‘ on with “Leah’s Thoughts” and your creativity. You’re very special, Leah 🙂

Trackbacks

  1. Art Imitating Life: How Children’s Television Inspires One Kid to Action | Leah's Thoughts
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  3. The Day the Apple IIe Computer Changed My Life | Leah's Thoughts
  4. The Lost Art of the Letter | Leah's Thoughts

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