Duct dreams

Tribune Chronicle

Hailey Rose, an 11-year-old student at Reynolds Elementary School in Transfer, Pa., has always enjoyed making crafts, but this was the first time she began selling homemade items.

Hailey’s first business venture didn’t consist of the conventional knitted or crocheted patterns. For one, the items are primarily made of duct tape.

The young entrepreneur said she’s thought about working with other materials, like beads, but said those probably would not have sold as well.

“I always liked doing crafts and stuff,” she said. “But doing it with duct tape was new.”

Her mother, Michelle Redmond, admits being skeptical when her daughter bought duct tape for projects.

“I asked ‘What are you going to do with that?’ And she said ‘You can make wallets and stuff with it.’ I thought no one was going to buy them,” Redmond said. “And then she asked to put some of her stuff on Facebook. I was shocked, we had five orders in about an hour.”

Hailey and her mother said it all started at a small scale after she learned how to make duct-tape bows from an online tutorial.

Since Hailey’s bags are primarily made out of duct tape, her mother suggested she add more materials to the construction. Redmond said her daughter learned how to structure the bags after adding poster board to the design.

All items are custom-made and now range from bags and purses to wristlets and phone cases. Customers can purchase her items with a variety of designs and patterns, but Rose said the most popular ones have football logos, like the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns.

“I have most football teams, and rolls of leopard and zebra print, cotton candy and skulls,” Rose said. “But the football ones are popular everywhere.”

Her mother said in the beginning Rose had some sales across the country, like in Alabama, Florida and California, but a majority of purchases were from customers in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Not to mention, recent interviews in the local media have led to sales increases.

“I’m excited. I’m now making 30 to 45 bags a week,” she said.

It’s a good thing the soon-to-be sixth grader is on summer vacation, because her weekly orders have nearly doubled. Though Hailey puts in several hours of work a day, she’s had so many buyers recently that she is a couple weeks behind.

“It usually takes me an hour and a half to make a bag,” she said.

But not to worry, when she gets overloaded with purchases, Hailey’s mother is right there to assist. She even helped her daughter set up accounts with Etsy, Facebook and a personal webpage, juststickwithme.com.

In fact, Hailey’s whole family is very involved with the business.

“My family is very proud. My dad even delivers stuff for me,” Rose said.

Redmond also warned that Hailey’s grandmother, who currently lives in Oklahoma, is moving to Texas soon and she expects a lot more orders to arrive.

“My mother has people buying stuff off of her all the time,” she said. “When she moves to Texas in a couple of weeks, we’re going to repeat the entire cycle.”

Saving money for college is what mainly motivates her, she said. Hailey wants to attend Yale to become and doctor or dentist. And yes, she knows it’s an expensive school, but that’s exactly why she wants to start saving now.

Her next plan, she said, is to make duct-tape kits for kids, this way they can learn how to make these items themselves.

“It’s a fun activity for other kids to do,” she said.

Hailey and her family have worked hard at spreading the word around. She has done everything from donating her merchandise to pageants in Florida and a couple of Relays For Life in Pennsylvania, to auditioning for the ABC TV show “Shark Tank.”

“It’s a show for people who make inventions,” Rose said. “They give you loans to help your business.”

Though Hailey’s still in the video round of the audition, she said she’s hopeful.