What do you want to be when you grow up? A baseball player and an entrepreneur
What’s your favorite food?Raw oysters
What’s your talent? I raise money for the community
Who inspires you and why? My parents inspire me and Martha Stewart because she gave me my first big donation and inspired me to do more (Ian did a live call to her show in May 2007).
We’re all familiar with the titles of president, vice president, CEO and CFO in the workplace, but what about CBO and CNO? Those stand for Chief Bracelet Officer and Chief Necklace Officer and they were created by 8-year-old Ian Cahr for his business, Ian’s Bead Company. Despite the formal titles, this business is nonprofit, with all money raised going to help local animal shelters.
"I’ve had two dogs and I love animals. They’re one of my favorite things," the Chicago boy explains.
Ian’s Bead Company started out simple enough—Ian and a friend wanted to sell something during the summer two years ago. They decided to make bracelets and key chains, which they sold for 15 cents a piece in front of his friend’s house. The first $20 they made went to the shelter New Leash on Life in Chicago, where Ian’s mom, Jill, had volunteered. Jill also worked with Kiehl’s and during a fundraising meeting at their home, Ian took it upon himself to show everyone his wares and tell them about the shelter. The people at Kiehl’s were so impressed they allowed Ian to have a sale at their store in Chicago.
"We were worried no one was going to buy them ... but he ended up raising $260 that day," says Jill.
Today Ian has more than 30 kids in grades 1-5 helping him make everything from cuff links and bracelets to ornaments and greeting cards. Ian runs everything as a real business, giving titles based on who likes to do what and insisting that everyone who participates in sales dresses appropriately.
The organization and professionalism have definitely paid off—Ian has raised about $12,000 so far and was the grand prize winner in the 6- to 12-year-old category for the American Humane Association’s Be Kind to Animals Week this past May for helping save more than 280 dogs. He won $2,000 for that contest and decided to split the winnings among three animal shelters—Chicago Animal Care and Control, New Leash on Life and Small Dog Adoption in Plantation, Fla., where the family recently adopted a dog.
Ian and his employees now meet once a month at Unicoi Art Studio in Chicago, which donates the space, to make all the items. Ian particularly loves to make the Christmas ornaments, which will be featured at the group’s holiday sale Dec. 6 at Kiehl’s, 907 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago.
As for the future, Ian hopes to "go to the next level with rubies, diamonds and sapphires." Right now, he says his favorite part about raising money for the shelter is "influencing kids to make a difference in their community."
You can buy Ian’s items at any time by visiting his Web site at www.iansbeadcompany.com.
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