Abi Smithson may be the youngest entrepreneur celebrating Small Business Month in Canada.
Smithson, age 10, is the founder of Love Sandal, a philanthropic footwear company in Toronto. The budding entrepreneur is the youngest member of Ryerson Digital Media Zone, a business incubator. She’s crowdfunding money on Indiegogo for her socially responsible brand.
Although only in elementary school, Smithson is well on her way of achieving to her entrepreneurial ambitions. It began when she took Kids Learning Code, a program ran by the Toronto-based Ladies Learning Code to teach programming and other technical skills to youth. It was through the program that Smithson developed her own video game and learned HTML coding, CSS and Google Glass.
“The experience was not like my normal school because I did things that I never would have done in my classroom,” Smithson told Techvibes earlier this year. “I learned how to set up my Gmail, create a blog and website, and then learn to code, which I want to know more about.”
Smithson aspires to be either an inventor or coder when she’s older. “I like inventing because it lets me be creative and solve problems. I enjoy coding because it is fun and I get to learn a new language.”
But her current project is the Love Sandal, “a shoe for girls and women that leaves hearts in the sand when you walk.” The idea came to her two summers ago (at age eight) when she noticed the tan lines on her mom’s feet while they were in the car. “It would be better if the tan lines were in the shape of a heart,” Smithson said.
Entrepreneurship runs in the family. Smithson’s mom, Julie, and her dad, Alan, are both entrepreneurs themselves. They manage SmithsonMartin, a Toronto-based startup (of which Alan is cofounder) that specializes in multi-touch control applications for music, recording, professional lighting and performance art.
Smithson isn’t going to stop at footwear. “My dad and I are always looking at problems and trying to solve them through software,” she said.
With files from Samuel Dunsiger.