For 12-year-old Liam Lennon, pennies are worth much more than a cent. The Centennial resident won a local award last fall for his business, The Lucky Penny, which sells jewelry and keychains made …
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For 12-year-old Liam Lennon, pennies are worth much more than a cent.
The Centennial resident won a local award last fall for his business, The Lucky Penny, which sells jewelry and keychains made with pennies from years that are meaningful to his customers.
He won an award from Spotlight on YouthBiz Stars, a competition and awards gala that benefits the programs of the local Young Americans Center for Financial Education, a nonprofit charity that teaches financial literacy to youth. Three business owners won $1,000 each and a year-long mentorship with a Denver business community member.
Lennon, a West Middle School student, talked to the Centennial Citizen about his business and experience in the Young Americans program.
How did you get involved with the Young Americans center?
My mom was looking online, and she found a financial education program they had, and so she signed my brother and me up for one of the classes there, and they were talking about how they have the marketplaces and how they have everyone design a business.
I'm not quite sure (if I'll go into business in life) — I haven't started thinking about that yet.
How did you get into the competition?
So basically, you have to fill out a form about what you're looking forward to and how you want to improve your business if you win the prize money. They have a big panel of judges who evaluate your application — they choose three finalists for each age category and then choose one winner.
I was definitely surprised (to win). I remember being at the gala before and remembered how the winner had to give a speech — I was terrified to give the speech. So I was excited but had mixed emotions.
Where did the idea for The Lucky Penny come from?
I was kind of trying to think how I could keep my costs down. You have to learn how to manage money and costs. I thought, what's the cheapest thing you can use? Pennies — it's the cheapest thing on earth.
I didn't have to set aside too much money for those because I could just go to bank and get 200 for two bucks … I make bracelets with copper O-rings, like washers, and tie the suede and make slipknots. I make necklaces using the same method.
This is actually my third business. I've done sports magnets; I cut these pieces of corkboard and painted baseballs and basketballs on them. I painted plates one year. I was trying to figure out how to make another business because the plates were kind of a seasonal thing — had reindeer and mistletoe on them and that kind of thing. All of the businesses were through the Young Americans center.
What have you and your mentor done so far? What have you learned?
Mr. (Scott) Wylie is really nice. I've learned from him that businesses don't always become what they are overnight. It takes years for Bill Gates to make Microsoft. Businesses not working out at first just keep working toward it, and eventually they'll get there.
What's your favorite part about running your business?
Meeting all the different people who think my product is interesting. Seeing the reaction on their face when they see what I do — it's always kind of fun.
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