Young student turns a crafting hobby into a business

During the school year, while her classmates were playing sports and hanging out with friends, Meenah Sukasem was building a business. Not yet a teenager, the 12-year-old is the CEO of Bkrafts — a handmade headband and bracelet company.

“I have a passion for crafting,” Meenah said.

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Meenah started crafting when she was 9 years old. She wanted to make her hobby  profitable. In October, Meenah joined The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) – a program that teaches middle and high school students how to start and run their own business.

“I went in not knowing about business and left an entrepreneur,” Meenah said.

YEA! was developed at the University of Rochester in 2004. The Meridian Chamber of Commerce introduced the program in 2014.

“Meenah came to the program a very quiet, unassuming young lady,” said Candy Troutman, program director for YEA!. “By the end of the year, Meenah blew us all away.”

Throughout the program, students develop business ideas, write business plans, conduct market research, pitch their plans to a panel of investors, and then launch and run their own fully formed companies and social movements.

“YEA! provides entrepreneurial students with a place where there are like-minded young people who have the same bent as they do,” Troutman said.

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Meenah selling headbands at the Meridian Youth Farmers Market.

In the spring, the program hosted a “Shark Tank”-like event where eight students pitched business ideas before a group of Meridian investors. The panel named Meenah the local winner, sending her to represent the Treasure Valley at the semifinals in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy competition in New York.

“Though I didn’t make it to the finals, going to New York gave me experience meeting new people,” Meenah said.

Meenah received $1,500 from investors to get her business up and running. She started selling her product in April and has sold more than $300 worth of headbands.

You can find Meenah every Saturday at the Meridian Youth Farmers Market, at Meridian City Hall from 9 a.m. 12 noon. through Sept 24.