Many high school students deal with balancing time between all of their classes, extracurricular activities and other concerns.
However, for Olentangy Liberty High School junior Emily Laine, there is another concern that occupies her time: her own business.
Laine and her mother, Lisa Laine, run their own backpack company called Laine Avenue. It all started in middle school when Laine absolutely hated her backpack. She decided with her mom to design her own backpack.
What began as a little project steadily grew when their friends wanted to buy the prototypes from them. This little project continued to expand with their family and their family’s friends began expressing interest as well.
That’s when Laine and her mother started diving deeper. They looked at statistics, held focus groups with Laine’s friends, and began piecing the business together. In Laine’s freshman year of high school, the mother-daughter team launched their business with their first real products and have been selling since then.
Unlike the generic backpacks found at stores, these backpacks have many innovative features to meet the needs of teenagers. One distinct feature is the changeable flaps at the top of the backpack. Rather than buying a new backpack every year, you can simply change the flaps so that it looks different and new. Another recent feature found in the latest line of Laine Avenue backpacks is the flap that can turn into a cross body bag.
Laine’s interest in business comes from both of her entrepreneurial parents. Laine explained that her mom was very enthusiastic about her idea to start a business.
“Even as a elementary schooler, she would encourage me to sell these little trinkets that I made for backpacks to make 75 cents,” Laine said. “So she was very excited when I proposed the idea to sell them.”
In the beginning, one of the hardest aspects of running the company for Laine was finding the motivation to keep going.
“When you’re a teen entrepreneur, you see all around you, successful people who were teen entrepreneurs, so the motivation can be lacking,” Laine explained. “But then you realize that they also had that stretch of time before they made profit, and realize you got to be motivated through the whole thing to get to your end goal.”
Overall, the business has been very rewarding for Laine. One of the best parts especially was the opportunity to work together closely with her mother.
“I’ve learned how to overcome difficulties with my mom…” Laine said. “It has really helped me have a better relationship with my mom than I thought I could as a younger teenager.”
Laine plans to continue the business in the future and to hopefully expand and grow the company.
“I really hope that I can keep pushing it in college as well, because it is a business that can keep itself alive,” Laine said.
For future teen entrepreneurs who are interested in starting their own creative endeavor, Laine stresses that one of the most important character traits to possess is passion.
“My advice would be to find something that you love and something that will continue to inspire you and use that. If you want to start a business with something that you think will make you money rather than something that you are passionate about, it might not work out in the long run,” Laine explained. “But if it is something that you are truly passionate about, and you can already see a future for it, it is probably something that will take you far and you can take far yourself.”