12-year-old Hayleigh Scott shows that even when rain falls in your life, you can make the decision to shine…
You’re never too young to start your own business, but when 12-year-old Hayleigh Scott was 5-years-old she had to wait until she was a little older just to describe to her family the invention she wanted to create. She turned a circumstance in her life – having hearing impairment, into a way to spread awareness, support a greater cause, and lend a little color, sparkle and style to ears around the globe. Read all about Hayleigh’s story and shining ingenuity below:
DreamerENT: What inspired you to start your business Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms and how did it go from an idea to a business?
Hayleigh: My business started as an idea when I was 5 years old. I am severe to profoundly hearing impaired and wear hearing aids to help me hear. When I was 4 years old, I went to a school for the deaf. Like me, some of the kids were hiding their hearing aids. When I saw that, I decided that I didn’t want to hide my hearing aids anymore. We were visiting my grandparents in Texas when I first shared my idea with my parents. I was drawing at the kitchen table with my twin sister, Vienna when my mom walked in and asked us what we were drawing. I told her I was drawing charms and tube twists for hearing aids. My pictures were a little hard to understand so it took me a few years and a lot of tries to get my mom to understand what I had drawn.
She told me that she thought my ideas might be patentable. So, my mom and dad helped me prepare to make my first presentation to a patent attorney. I was only 8 and went into a board room and had to share my ideas with adults in the attorney’s office. I applied for a provisional patent and later a full patent for my products. Then, I went on to open my on-line business www.HayleighsCherishedCharms.com. I also have email (email@example.com), a facebook page, twitter account, and an ETSY shop as well. I have been very blessed to have distributers of my charms in both nationally and internationally. I am currently working on partnering with a major hearing aid mold company to produce part of my product line. It is very exciting.
DreamerENT: How did you learn about where to get your materials, and how to set up the business? Did you have any challenges along the way?
Hayleigh: My family has always been interested in crafts so we had a little bit of an advantage because we knew about craft stores and had some connections already that could help us. I did not know how to shop to get discounts so that my products could be affordable to anyone who wants them. So, I had to learn how to approach businesses and share my business so that I could receive discounts on products so that I could share that discount with my customers.
One challenge that I had was that no one in my family had ever had a website before. I had to do a lot of research to learn how to set-up a website and needed a lot of help. Now, I can update my own website, create paypal buttons, and link other websites to my own. It was a great learning experience.
DreamerENT: Who have been some of your customers and what have been the responses from people who you’ve been able to serve? Are there any stories from customers that stand out to you?
Hayleigh: I have a broad customer base. I have sold charms and tube twists to adult men, women, boys and girls. I have two favorite stories that come to mind. One is about a woman that read about my charms in a magazine and was so excited that she jumped on her daughter when her daughter was waking up to tell her that her ears could be beautiful now and that her dreams of having earrings were coming true. This little girl was one of many that was born with a condition that caused her earlobes to be malformed. I had no idea that starting my business would reach a group of children that had a condition that I had never heard of. Her family is so grateful and I have enjoyed making this little girl and her mother matching mother/daughter earrings and charms.
I also received an email from a man that was very upset that his daughter was deaf. He was grieving the loss of her hearing and stumbled upon my website. What made the story even more interesting is that the dad is deaf himself. He said that he just needed to be reminded that anything was possible and her future was bright. He said that he was so grateful to have a role model for his little girl.
DreamerENT: Tell us about the ways you are giving back with your business and how you hope to grow Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms in the future?
Hayleigh: My parents have always talked to us and shown us ways to be grateful and generous. I donate 10% of every sale to schools for the deaf and toward research for the deaf and hard of hearing. I also donate to local charities, fund raisers for the deaf and hard of hearing, and to chapters of hearing loss groups.
My dream for Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms is that it be a household name among the deaf and hard of hearing communities and I would like to expand my product base. I have products for cochlear implants, BTE hearing aids, and RITE aids. I would like to have products available for the Baha. This is something that I am working on now.
I have had the opportunity to speak to hearing care professionals, teachers of the deaf and parents at conferences. I would like to do more of this in the future and be a motivational speaker in addition to being a business woman.
DreamerENT: What are some of your other hobbies and passions and how do you balance school with your business and having fun?
Hayleigh: I enjoy horseback riding and babysitting. I have a little brother that is 19 months old and he is a lot of fun to take care of!
There have been periods of time where balancing work and school have been challenging. I try to limit my business work to 1-2 hours a day. I answer every email personally and I write a handwritten note for every order. This personal touch takes time but I know that it is really appreciated. On the weekends, I work on creating new products (I make all of the charms myself) and updating the website. My sisters (my 12 year old twin sister, Vienna and 9 year old sister Sarah) join me working on the weekends because they create necklaces and bracelets that can be made into sister sets or sold individually.
DreamerENT: What keeps you motivated to keep up with your business when it may get challenging. Do you have any role models or people who inspire and/or help you as well?
There are several things that keep me motivated. One of them is the nice emails that I get from people. I love hearing stories about how people feel better about their hearing loss or how they are inspired by my story. I also love to receive pictures of smiling customers with their new charms and tube twists. My mom and dad also really encourage me and help me with my business when I have a lot to do (like making trips to the post office, helping me package everything, ordering additional supplies, etc.
DreamerENT: Do you have any advice or motivation for other young people who want to start a business or do something creative to help others?
Hayleigh: I think the most important thing is to do something that you enjoy doing, that you are passionate about. It is hard work running a business and balancing your life. You need to do something that you enjoy…..and remember Have Fun!