KidzFair in Great Dunmow shows off entrepreneurial skills of next generation of business people
A young refugee from Ukraine showed off her entrepreneurial skills at Uttlesford's KidzFair.
Anna, 14, and her family fled from Irpin on March 4 on the last train from the city to Kyiv. The next day, the rail tracks were blown up as the Russian invasion continued.
From the capital, they faced a difficult journey to Lviv and then made their way to Chervonohrad, where Anna's grandparents live.
Sponsor Claire Knight welcomed the teenager, her parents and younger brother and sister to her Great Canfield home on May 9 as part of the Government's Homes for Ukraine scheme.
Claire introduced Anna to Kidzfair, co-founded by Natalia Ivanes. The fun event at Foakes Hall in Dunmow on Saturday June 11 featured business stalls, free workshops for children, performances by youngsters, activities and refreshments.
It also showcased young entrepreneurs aged 7 to 17, including Anna, who created a range of crocheted toys. The youngster named her business Chado Toys – 'chado' is the Ukrainian word for child
"For her business, Anna applies a skill that she picked up back in Ukraine just a couple of months before the war started," said Natalia.
Her hard work paid off – she won the award for Best Handmade Product from the judges.
Anna said: "This was my first experience of selling. I had only one toy left unsold, so I am very happy. I would like to transfer part of the money to the Ukrainian armed forces."
Her fellow innovators included 10-year-old Evi, a pupil at Summercroft Primary School in Bishop's Stortford. Her business, Evi's Crystal Craft, makes jewellery and took the Best Product title.
She said: "I really enjoyed KidzFair. It was an amazing experience and very fun. It was extremely busy, and a lot of clients came. I sold about 30 items and earned £71.10. When I got my first customer, I was jumping off the walls!
"I would love to participate in KidzFair again. It would be amazing if more people participate and if the room was bigger."
Herts and Essex High School student Sianna, 12, runs SC Designs and manufactures jewellery. She is well on the way to achieving her ultimate aim of opening her own shop after she won Best Brand.
Manor Fields Primary pupil Patricia sold her book, The Menacing Mystery of the Troublesome Town, and was judged to have the Best Sales Pitch.
The 10-year-old wrote the story when she was eight during the Covid-19 lockdown and turned it into a volume with help from an illustrator. Patricia hoped her story would prove to other children how a small idea could turn into a huge accomplishment.
She said: "I really enjoyed KidzFair. It was a great experience to learn about business and sales. I also had lots of fun looking at the different stalls and buying some of their products.
"I sold around 10 books, each for £4.99, and it also came with a free surprise.
"A lesson I learnt was that running a business takes a lot of thought and creativity with certain customer service skills and marketing. I definitely will participate again as I had a wonderful time."
Sienna and Isabelle, 10-year-olds who attend Sheering Primary School, run Dream Shop, creating jewellery and personalised gifts. They won the award for Best Customer Service.
Artist Marcel, 10, a pupil at Reedings Junior School in Sawbridgeworth, has previously featured in the Indie. The winner of the Best Promotion Campaign sold a stack of landscapes and paintings of flowers, abstracts and wildlife.
He said: "I sold 11 paintings and earned £133. I would love to take part in the event again. I looked around the event. What impressed me the most were the businesses run by kids, which I found quite inspirational."
Sisters Hayley, 12, a student at Dunmow's Helena Romanes secondary, and Ruby, 10, who attends St Mary's primary in the town, run H&R Bakes to sell their range of cakes and buns and took the Best Presentation title at the event.
The Most Creative Idea award went to Lion Doodles, a range of customised tote bags created by 12-year-olds Ruhani, Rebecca and Tejas, who all live in Dunmow.
Fellow Dunmow girl Sofia, 11, runs BubbleKitti and aims to open a cat café. Her bubble tea outlet was judged Most Innovative Idea.
The event attracted around 450 visitors who enjoyed a range of entertainment led by master of ceremonies Theo Smith, a 12-year-old veteran of Dunmow Players. Performers included Dunmow Players, Pauline Quirke Academy Bishop's Stortford and seven young pianists.
Natalia said: "One of the young singers was Maria Yakimchuk, a nine-year-old who moved to the UK in early May as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme. She won several singing competitions in Ukraine, and her voice was an absolute showstopper."
KidzFair also raised £200 with a raffle in support of UK-AID, an Uttlesford charity set up to help the children and families still suffering from the 1986 Chornobyl disaster and which now sends relief to Ukrainian refugees too.
Cllr Mike Coleman, Dunmow's deputy mayor, said: "Every child needs support, motivation, guidance. The one thing they don't need is to be told they are wrong and have failed. They don't fail, they make mistakes, they learn, and by doing so they will become better and improve what they're doing next time. Children find their own way; every child is different and they will all succeed in life with support and guidance."