Never in my wildest dreams did I think my teenage daughter would become my business partner. Three years ago, that is exactly what happened. During the early days of the pandemic, I was looking for things to keep my kids busy and happy due to the isolation they were facing. We wanted to buy a subscription box for my daughter Sienna, who was 13 at the time, but we struggled to find a suitable option in Canada.
That’s when Ruby Crate was born. Sienna and I were already spending a lot of time at home together, so we decided to build an age appropriate subscription box for tween and teen girls filled with treasures in the beauty, room décor, cool gadget and accessory categories. Now three years in, we’ve sold thousands of boxes and launched a mini version for girls aged four to seven and one for young women living away from home for the first time.
The journey has been so rewarding and I’m proud that we’ve built something together. We have a stronger relationship because of it. But we didn’t get it all correct right off the bat. There were hurdles, struggles and challenges to overcome and I learned a lot about the resilience, creativity and the resourcefulness of kids along the way.
Here are five lessons I’ve learned from building a business with my teenage daughter:
1) Never underestimate your kid
Kids will amaze you with what they can do, and they can teach you a thing or two along the way. Sienna has taught me to be more fearless with social media. I’ve learned authenticity is key and overthinking it won’t drive a different result. We’re not taking ourselves too seriously, and it’s become a great source of fun and creativity for us.
2) Kids can handle responsibility
Giving her responsibilities in the business has helped Sienna’s confidence grow in major ways. I can see this most when she takes part in media interviews and speaks with potential new customers. She’s now taking the lead, preparing talking points and confidently selling the business. She is also taking business classes and making plans to take over and grow the business when she’s older.
3) It is ok to let them make mistakes
We started Ruby Crate with no road map. Building a business, like many new endeavours, involves a lot of initiative and risk. While we get a lot of things right, making mistakes is part of the learning process. If my kids see me ‘fail’ and try again, they know they can too. If Sienna is struggling, I’ve learned to ask questions to help her discover her own solution, rather than fixing it for her. Letting kids fail builds resilience, critical thinking and problem solving skills. Plus, the success in the end is all the more rewarding because they know they can handle the challenges life might throw at them and have the capability to solve them.
4) Kids have valuable ideas
Trusting Sienna’s opinion and ideas have been paramount to our success. She encourages me to think differently and consider new perspectives. As a teenager, she is our target demographic and we embrace that in every aspect of Ruby Crate from the branding to the product selection to the marketing. She holds focus groups with her friends to determine what girls want and need, and the issues they’re facing. They take it upon themselves to make sure they’re focusing on a variety of interests that young people have to ensure we are including something for everyone. It’s rewarding to see the level of careful consideration she puts into the business.
5) Make time for fun
Building a business is time consuming and a lot of work. We spend a lot of time collaborating, brainstorming and packaging the boxes and it has definitely strengthened our relationship. We’ve had some really incredible experiences together from being featured at New York Fashion Week to product sourcing at trade shows. But what has really brought us closer, is taking time out to have fun both on and off the job.
Most parents will never start a business with their kids. It wasn’t something I planned for. Seeing my daughter mature, embrace responsibility, develop important life skills and have her confidence skyrocket is the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had. If you’re considering a major project with your kid, why not jump in with both feet and enjoy the adventure. I guarantee you’ll both learn a lot about yourselves and each other.