Sherman mother organizes children's business fair 'to make that hobby profitable and try new ideas'

Photo of Sandra Diamond Fox

SHERMAN — Seven-year-old Skyller Mikaloff is putting the finishing touches on his handmade soaps, ahead of selling them at the children’s business fair this weekend.

Children’s Business Fair: My Kid Entrepreneur, is set from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday on the green in front of IGA on Route 39.

About two dozen children ages 5 to 17 are participating. The volunteer-run event is free.

The fair is sponsored by Acton Academy, the Acton School of Business and My Kid Entrepreneur, with the support of donors and volunteers.

Sherman’s Natalia Story, Skyller’s mother and one of the fair’s organizers, said this is the fair’s first time in Sherman. She said Acton Children’s Business Fairs are held regularly across the United States.

Aside from homemade soaps, kids will be selling smoothies, cookies, scrunchies, chocolate-covered apples, dog and cat toys, coloring books and dog treats.

“They can come up with any idea,” Story said.

The purpose of the fair, Story said, is for children to learn what it takes to be an entrepreneur, to experiment, and to establish a money-work connection.

“It’s to teach them the value of money but also to follow their passion — not just to have a hobby, but also to make that hobby profitable and try new ideas,” she said.

All children will have their own fair space, where they can set up a table with products they made or designed, Story said. Most of the items cost from $1 to $10.

All the children’s businesses are automatically accepted into the competition. They’ll be judged by local store owners in the categories of: Most Original Business Idea, Highest Business Potential, Best Presentation/Creativity.

The winner in each age group and category will receive a prize and a signed copy of the book "My Kid Entrepreneur" by Story and her husband Zach Mikaloff.

Some children have their own business cards and websites, Story said.

“Some kids who are in this already had a business and some created their business for the fair,” she added.

The children will answer questions about their products from fair guests.

“It’s interesting for the kids to see the transition in themselves from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., how open they become after speaking for a few hours,” Story said.

Skyller’s soaps are clear and have a plastic toy inside — a very bright plastic fish. He made the soaps himself, from a soap base and adds oil for smell and texture.

He said he thought of putting a toy inside soap during the pandemic, as a way to encourage kids to wash their hands.

He has named his business “Free the Fish and Make a Wish.”

However, soaps aren’t Skyller’s first product. Last year, he sold Lilies of the Valley, which grew outside his home.

In June, at the Orange County Children’s Business Fair in Newburgh, N.Y., Skyller won two awards and sold $130 worth of soap in four hours, “which I spent in an amusement park with my sister, Luna. It was so cool to have my own money,” he said.

Over the summer, Skyller sold lemonade and gluten-free cookies by his house.

“Now I am saving for the new bike I want,” he said.

Story said she would like to make the event an annual tradition in Sherman.

“We really hope to make it a regular event, as we strongly believe that entrepreneurship is the best school for kids,” Story said.