Oakland, CA sisters Brianna and Ashley Wong are the founders of duck+chick, a handmade leather goods company that donates proceeds to various nonprofits. These young entrepreneurs sprang into action during shelter-in-place by raising money for No Kid Hungry, a nonprofit organization providing meals to kids across America. Brianna and Ashley’s mission is to help others and show that kids can make a difference. Over the Summer of 2020, Brianna participated in Nasdaq Center’s Youth Entrepreneurial Camp with Girls Crushing It where she used the design thinking framework to develop and implement strategies to pivot duck+chick’s business model in response to the pandemic.
How did your business come to be?
Brianna and Ashley Wong: Two years ago we decided to use our Christmas money to buy flocks of ducks and chicks for families in need because their eggs provide nutrients. We liked donating to non-profits and wanted to keep donating so our parents told us to figure out how to raise money. First we got money from recycling cans but that took a long time. Then we brainstormed and decided to start a business making leather bracelets. Our friends and family loved them so we made a variety of products and sold them at a booth at our school’s vendor fair. In our first year we were able to purchase over 1,000 ducks and chicks and raise money for our school!
What causes do you support?
BW & AW: We originally donated to Heifer International to purchase ducks and chicks. When COVID caused schools to close, we thought about how some kids who depend on school lunches for their meals were unable to eat. We decided to donate to No Kid Hungry, and have currently donated over 7,000 meals! We have also donated the Oakland Zoo, Children’s Fairyland, and other Oakland non-profits. We like donating to different organizations because we can help a wider variety of people, and gives us a chance to learn about what each organization does.
What are you most proud of?
BW & AW: We are really happy when we hear that we inspire other kids to raise money for organizations they are passionate about! This past Christmas we partnered with two friends in Virginia to make special Christmas ornaments and used the money to buy over 2,000 eggs for their elementary school’s food pantry!
What has been your biggest challenge?
BW & AW: When we started our business we decided we wanted to work with leather – but we really had no experience. It took a lot of research with our parents to understand the basics of leather crafting, the costs associated with the material and the tools, and just plain trial and error as we figured out how to cut and stamp the leather. Because it’s a handmade craft, there’s many different ways to work with it – which is challenging, but also fun!
What has been your greatest success?
BW & AW: This year we’ve been featured on the news a few times and even did an interview in Mandarin! Because we were on the news, more people learned about our company and we were able to raise more money to donate.
How have you adapted your business in response to COVID19?
BW & AW: We were originally planning to do in-person vendor fairs, but since we can’t do that right now, we are focusing on online sales through our website (duckandchick.com) and instagram (@itsduckandchick). We also participated in the Girls Crushing It Virtual Winter Pop-up Shop. Since we are a smaller company, we also reach out to bigger companies to do collaborations and together raise more money for non-profits.
What is the biggest lesson you learned through entrepreneurship?
BW & AW: Try new things, and if it doesn’t work out, be flexible and try something else.
How do you balance entrepreneurship with schoolwork?
BW & AW: We always make sure we do our schoolwork first. After school we check our orders to get an idea of what we need to do, but we mostly work on our business on the weekends.
What advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs?
BW & AW: Just ask! If you want to collaborate with someone, just ask. If you want to be on the news, just ask. We reached out to people and they actually responded to us! We learned that the worst they can do is say no, or ignore you. It can be hard though, because sometimes it’s intimidating to talk to adults. We are still learning!
How can parents support their children’s entrepreneurial spirits?
BW & AW: Parents should listen to their kids’ ideas, help them when they need it, and make it fun!
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