NAPLES, Fla. — The Greater Naples Chamber is gearing up for its annual Youth Business Fair.
As the name implies, the event is showcasing the talents of tomorrow’s entrepreneurs all in one place.
"For them, it’s their first step into entrepreneurship. They frequently do an impressive job.”
A few young entrepreneurs are being celebrated. Working with the Chamber, students learn free-market principles as well as a thing or two about how the workforce helps drive the local economy.
"Our mission is to promote economic opportunity for all," said Michael Dalby, President of the Greater Naples Chamber. "So, for our students, this is an opportunity for them to show how they’ve learned about business and what they understand about bringing in product to the market and how do you sell that product, how do you market it.”
Students like the Sanchez brothers- a trio specializing in selling dog collars.
“I went to the youth business fair in 2020 and saw that they were making money so I told my brothers about it and we started a business," said Andrew Sanchez.
But it’s not just any dog collar business, its Brothers Unleashed. Starting a business at an early age can be daunting enough, but doing that work alongside your brothers makes a difference.
"It’s kind of different because, normally, we have different after-school things," he says. "So we don’t see each other as we normally do on the days we make a bunch of leashes.”
And they’re not the only ones…
“We have some resin creations that I make where we make the resins in molds and we add things like shells and different things. This one’s like message in a bottle.”
Mary Robe is a freshman at Lely High School and the creator of Rabe’s Resin.
“I think it’s just seeing the things you can make and, looking at these things, it’s just such a neat thing to see and to know I did that," she says. "It’s just a cool thing to do.”
And one of the youngest entrepreneurs is John Disser, creator of John’s Woodworking Company.
"After Irma came, like September of 2017, at the end of our street people dumped wood there. I didn’t want to see the wood be shredded or mulched, I wanted to do something with it. So me and my dad took some wood and we turned it into our creations that somebody can centerpiece in their home.”
Proceeds from the fair benefit the Leadership Collier Foundation, supporting work-based learning programs for students. Helping these youthful entrepreneurs become the business leaders of tomorrow.
"Seeing how everyone individually does such amazing things on their own- it’s getting inspiration from that and giving inspiration," says Rabe. "It’s such a fun event where everyone gets to share.”
"Many of them put a lot of time and effort into what they’re creating, but also just the idea of understanding business," Dalby said. "Understanding sales, business, marketing. Understanding resources and sourcing product to be able to sell. What goes into it from a time and money standpoint. All of those things are great in helping them better understand what it takes to run a business.”
Friday is the deadline to sign up for the Youth Business Fair. You can find more information, including how to sign up, online right here.