WHITE PLAINS, Md. – It all started with a jewelry making kit. It seemed like a cute gift for a little girl, one that might keep her busy for a bit. It’s been two years and Cassidy Tyson has not only stayed busy but found a creative outlet that launched a business selling handmade bracelets.
The Billingsley Elementary School third grader and proprietor of Cassidy’s Creations was recently named the winner of the Youth Shark Tank competition in the 6-to-12 years of age category during an annual community event held at The Shops at Waldorf Center. Youth entrepreneurs between the ages of 6 to 18 were invited to pitch their ideas and businesses to local community and business leaders.
Among the wares sold by the children and teens were t-shirts with inspirational sayings, throw pillows, hair products and fashion accessories. Ciera Hodges, a college student who runs a haircare business, was the first-place winner in the ages 13 to 18 category. In all, 30 children and teens set up outdoor storefronts for the event with 16 competing in the Shark Tank contest.
As the winners of the competition, Cassidy and Hodges will each man a free storefront at the Pop-Up and Grow vendor shop during the weekend of Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year. They also each received a free membership to the Charles County Chamber of Commerce.
Cassidy said she was impressed with the businesses run by her fellow contestants, and when her name was announced as the winner, you could see the shock on her face. “You looked surprised,” Cassidy’s mother, Shalyce Tyson, said. “I was happy,” Cassidy clarified.
“A huge part of my job is to assist businesses in being successful,” Natonya Thomas, assistant general manager at Madison Marquette, said. Madison Marquette is the owner of The Shops at Waldorf which hosted the event last month. “Many of those are small businesses run by members in our community who started with just a dream. Because of that, we truly understand the importance of entrepreneurship and learning how to run a business at a young age. There are so many kids with enormous dreams, and we just want to nourish them.”
Cassidy continues to be the crafter behind Cassidy’s Creations on Etsy and the main shipper. She packs up each purchase, addresses the envelope, adds some stickers and gets a lift to the post office from her parents. Cassidy is on her way to building an empire, one bead at a time.
“I started when I was 6,” Cassidy said as she arranged bracelets on a desk, meticulously separating them by size and type of material. “I found that making bracelets brought me so much joy.”
At first, Cassidy strung beads together for friends and family. Her mother realized that her daughter’s hobby was growing into something more. “All she did was make bracelets. I thought, this could be a thing,” Shalyce said. “I think I can help her do something with this.”
Shalyce is an entrepreneur herself and hosts a podcast, interviewing women about different aspects of business, lifestyle, motherhood and personal growth. The example has made an impression on Cassidy and her older brother, Cameron. While Cassidy has Cassidy’s Creations, Cameron, a sixth grader, is dedicated to playing football and expressing his creativity in the kitchen through cooking. “He wants to play in the NFL, then after that he wants to own a restaurant,” Shalyce said. Cameron and Cassidy also have 6-month-old twin siblings, Skyler and Tyler.
Cassidy makes bracelets with colorful plastic beads and gemstones that she sells via her Etsy shop — she also has taken part in a couple of pop up vendor events. Her bracelets can include an affirmation or name; others have a charm. She knows her audience — making bracelets in adult and kid sizes. Many people in her orbit have a bracelet of two, thanks to Cassidy gifting them on birthdays, holidays or “just because.” Her friends, family members, teachers and neighbors wear them. And she’s always open to making items in specific color combinations or for a holiday. After learning about glow-in-the-dark beads, Cassidy is thinking up designs — those beads who be great for Halloween designs.
Cassidy may entertain branching out from bracelets into creating other pieces, but right now she’s content. She takes gymnastics and dance lessons, likes watching television and counts math, physical education and art as her favorite subjects in school.
Shalyce Tyson sees the benefits of stoking her daughter’s creative pursuits and business acumen. “She is learning responsibility and developing certain skills sets that will give her a leg up in the future,” she said.